District 5 Leader Receives 'Excellent' Rating, Contract Extension
District 5 board agrees to extend Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hefner's contract one year. Hefner receives 'excellent' rating.
Editor's note: This article has been updated.
“We have one of the finest superintendents on the face of the Earth," board chairman Robert Gantt said.
Gantt said Hefner was a man of great integrity and honesty, and he appreciated his dedication.
Hefner also received an "excellent" rating for his performance since joining the district in January 2011.
Before the vote, Hefner discussed a report he prepared for the board, which was based on three required actions from the district's Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) report from 2010.
The three required actions, which can be viewed in the attached board packet, are as follow:
- Formalize a continuous improvement process
- Develop a succession plan for district leadership
- Conduct a comprehensive long-range study of land use, demographics, and population changes to address facility construction and needed modifications.
Hefner said he used those required actions as his goals, which he noted were already in progress before his arrival.
Some ways Hefner said he worked toward those goals included promoting employees from within to fill vacancies, and addressing facility and technology needs and choice options through the Vision 2015 plan (see attached PDF for latest update to the Vision 2015 plan).
Six of the seven board members commended Hefner for his efforts specifically with moving forward with renovations at Irmo and Dutch Fork high schools, the district's five-year technology plan and being able to handle "political problems" in the district.
Board member Ed White talked about the political fighting within the district that mostly stemmed from lawsuits involving Chapin High School and applauded Hefner for giving the district a four-year commitment given the challenges.
"That's a huge challenge for any superintendent to even survive in that type of environment," White said.
While board member Kim Murphy said she was prepared to vote on the acceptance of the goals Hefner discussed, she still had concerns about the process that the board chose to conduct the evaluation.
"The process and instrument we are utilizing in this particular instance is inconsistent with the process outline in the written policy," Murphy said. "... the evaluation process and instrument should not only clearly articulate and assess the superintendent's progress toward meeting and/or hopefully exceeding the expectations of the job description, but rather should also establish and identify new priorities and objectives for performance."
See the board's policy in an attached PDF.
Murphy said her concern was "less with Hefner's performance in meeting the goals he set himself, but rather in the goals themselves."
While Murphy agreed Hefner met those goals to a "satisfactory degree," she thought the board should have looked at other goals from priorities set by the board.
Murphy said she would submit her evaluation in writing for the record, which several board members criticized her for doing.
"We heard evaluation comments in open session from six board members who were willing to be open and transparent with Dr. Hefner's evaluation while one board member, Kim Murphy, announced that she is going to submit a written evaluation which is neither open or transparent," board member Beth Watson said.
After all members provided their evaluations, the board voted unanimously to extend Hefner's contract to June 30, 2016.
Watson made the motion, while White seconded the motion.
"I'm humbled by what the board said," Hefner said after the vote. "It's a lot to live up to."
Gantt said he will prepare a summary letter on behalf of the board based on their discussion and actions at the meeting.
The summary would then be sent to board members for review.
Gantt also said he asked Hefner to prepare his proposed goals for the 2012-2013 school year for the board to review at its next meeting scheduled for July 23 at H.E. Corley Elementary School.
In other business:
- The board unanimously approved naming the district's fourth high school Spring Hill High School. The school, which is being built near the intersection of Mount Vernon Church and Broad River roads, is set to open in August 2013. Before the vote, Murphy said several people in the community were upset that they were not part of the naming of the school. District officials met in April with residents from the community where the school is being built. Murphy attempted to make a motion to table the vote until other members of the community were able to participate. Murphy said she favored the Spring Hill name but wanted to allow for other members in the district to be part of the process.
- The board approved a resolution asking the South Carolina School Boards Association request flexibility for state-funded instructional materials to include the purchase of e-books and other technology in addition to the standard textbooks.