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Schools

Wilcox scores well in review

With a few quibbles, the school leader gets high marks overall.

By DONNA WINCHESTER
Published July 9, 2007


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The Pinellas School Board sent a clear message last year to superintendent Clayton Wilcox.

Work harder to raise teacher morale, tone down the sometimes caustic comments about district employees and take the lead in charting a districtwide strategic direction.

Most board members gave Wilcox high marks in those areas over the past few weeks as they compiled his annual job evaluation, which will be discussed today at a board workshop.

In his most favorable evaluation in three years, Wilcox earned praise for his leadership ability, his grasp of budgetary and financial issues and his efforts to communicate with the public.

Most board members also praised him for working to reach the goals he set last year, including improving relationships between the board and district leaders.

The board graded Wilcox on a scale of 1 to 5 on nine performance standards established by the American Association of School Administrators and the National School Boards Association. His average score was 4.27.

"If you think of 3 as average, you're starting to do really well with anything above 3.5," said Steve Iachini, the district's director of research and accountability. "Anything above a 4, I think you're doing really, really well."

Wilcox, who reviewed the data last week, took a more cautious view.

"I thought overall it was a good evaluation," he said. "But whenever you reduce anything to a numeric average, you tend to lose the importance of the words and the actions behind the number."

His caution might be justified, given the range of the scores. While board members Jane Gallucci and Peggy O'Shea gave him the top mark on every benchmark, Linda Lerner rated his performance with a composite score of 3.7, and Janet Clark gave him a 3.2.

Lerner wrote that Wilcox "needs to improve his communication to the board and more clearly understand his role on the leadership team." Clark criticized his "top-down" leadership style, which she said leaves too few decisions in the hands of teachers.

Meanwhile, Mary Brown, who in past years has been one of Wilcox's biggest supporters on the board, handed him his lowest scores in two categories and tied with Clark for the lowest score in a third.

In her written comments, Brown urged Wilcox to become more conservative with the budget and to work harder at hiring minorities. She also encouraged him to push for increased parental involvement in the schools and to continue working on staff morale.

The superintendent's evaluation comes 10 weeks after an annual survey of more than 8, 600 Pinellas school employees showed that 43 percent agreed Wilcox is providing "quality leadership." That figure was up from 34 percent last year.

 

How the superintendent did

Pinellas School Board members rated Wilcox on a scale of 1 to 5 on nine standards.

Performance standard Average rating

Leadership and district culture 4.36

Policy and governance 3.79

Communications and community relations 4.29

Organizational management 4.21

Curriculum planning development 4.07

Instructional leadership 4.21

Human resources management 4.00

Values and ethics of leadership 3.86

Labor relations 4.43

 

[Last modified July 9, 2007, 06:54:38]


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