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Board praises superintendent

Published September 26, 2006

TAMPA - Hillsborough's school chief earned high marks from her bosses on the School Board in her first evaluation.

Overall, superintendent MaryEllen Elia scored "above satisfactory." Under her contract, she's automatically due a 10 percent raise - the same increase as teachers got this year.

With the $21,500 boost, Elia will earn a base salary of $236,500 to run the nation's ninth-largest school district. She also receives bonus pay when student scores improve.

Board members are expected to discuss Elia's first-year report card tonight. In advance, each was asked to evaluate her leadership in key areas.

Elia received only a handful of average scores. They came from the board's newer members, Doretha Edgecomb and Susan Valdes.

Both stressed confidence in Elia's leadership. But they wanted to be fair and set high standards.

"She's an extraordinary leader, but she isn't Super Woman," Edgecomb said.

In their evaluations, board members observed the following strengths and weaknesses:

- Elia impressed several with her decisiveness and her ability to bring change.

- She earned her highest marks for leadership in instruction.

- Communications needs improvement. One board member commented that Elia could do more to reach out to the community - and be more tactful.

Individual board members' comment sheets weren't available Monday, so the author of that comment couldn't be determined. But board member Jennifer Faliero didn't agree with the observation. She also has reservations about tying Elia's salary to teacher raises.

"She should be more in line with an administrator's pay, rather than a teacher's," said Faliero, noting that she isn't backing away from the amount Elia earns. "We're getting a bargain."

Letitia Stein can be reached at or 226-3400.

[Last modified September 26, 2006, 06:09:44]

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