School board takes part in self-evaluation process

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

When members of the Cape Girardeau School Board recently embarked on a self-discovery mission, they weren't sure what they would uncover about their effectiveness to govern a school district.

A self-evaluation through the Missouri School Boards Association revealed the board is doing many things well, but should focus on areas such as involving administrators and interacting with district patrons.

"This has given us a chance to measure up, see how we're doing," said board member Robert Brown. "Of course, there's always room for improvement. But I thought we did really well."

All seven board members and superintendent Mark Bowles filled out surveys in September that covered issues such as confidentiality, planning, teamwork, decision-making and conflict management. The results of those surveys were delivered at a special meeting Monday night from MSBA facilitator Jeff Hahs.

"Your hands are tied when it comes to state rules and DESE, but there are still some ground floor things you can do to make your district better," Hahs told board members.

Among Hahs' suggestions for improving the district were asking principals to regularly attend board meetings, holding an orientation for new board members, monitoring teacher performance and establishing ways to measure the board's goals.

Offered free of charge

It's the first time the Cape Girardeau School Board has participated in the free evaluation through MSBA. According to Hahs, the organization averages between 30 and 40 evaluations each year.

The surveys asked board members to rate how comfortable they felt being themselves at meetings, how confident they were that their decisions would be carried out and how well disagreements were handled during meetings.

After rating each question, members were asked to give specific examples of situations that backed up their answers.

"After taking this survey, I felt really good about our board," said board president Sharon Mueller.

"It brought up some interesting issues."

Mueller said board members will decide at a later date what they plan to do with the information taken from the surveys.

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