Bartow superintendent's contract extension contested
by Mark Andrews
Jun 18, 2013 | 3279 views | 0 0 comments | 114 114 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bartow County Board of Education on Monday voted to extend the contract of Superintendent John Harper for another two years. However, the vote wasn’t unanimous and board member Matt Shultz, who previously served on the board from 2004 to 2010, said his vote against the extension was based more on the process of Harper’s evaluation than a vote against Harper himself.

He added the process doesn’t allow for group discussion on board member’s individual evaluations of the superintendent and that Harper’s evaluation had not been completed at the time of the vote.

“I just think it’s inappropriate to vote on contract extensions when his evaluation hasn’t even been completed for this year,” Shultz said. “The whole time we did [evaluations] when I was on the board, we did it together, so each individual board member would fill out their own evaluation sheet or form and then we would come together as a group and we would speak about it; we would take our individual evaluations and come up with a collective school system evaluation of the superintendent ... and then we would pull the superintendent in and we would go over the results, talk about strengths and weaknesses and we would do that as a group.

“The way this group does it, they do their individual evaluations and then nobody sees each others’ evaluations and then the

chairman evidently collects those evaluations and in a one-on-one meeting speaks to the superintendent without anybody else being able to participate. My concern is with that process, none of the board members know each others’ hot-button issues; they don’t know what each [board member] put in their evaluation ... and as far as I know, nobody through this process has set any measurable goals for the superintendent, so I just don’t know how you hold anybody accountable under that process.”

Harper has been with the district since 2007 and Shultz returned for his first board meeting in May after running unopposed for the District 3 seat left open when board member Angie Cornett resigned in January.

In other news, the board was able to extend about 30 contracts to employees within the school system for the upcoming year, including several paraprofessional teachers with teaching certifications who were able to acquire full-time certified teaching positions.

“One of the things that the economic downturn has allowed us to do is hire a number of certified teachers in paraprofessional positions and ... being hired into paraprofessional positions gives us a chance to look at them, learn who they are and work with them and it gives a good shot at hiring someone who is loyal to the Bartow County School System and the principals see they are effective,” Harper said. “One of the things we do when people leave us is we look at what our [full-time equivalent student rate] is and we don’t replace positions from some of those who leave us, opposed to letting some teachers go, so that’s an initiative the board and I have worked very heavily on.

“If we are losing staff because of student enrollment, then we use those people as attrition to let people go rather than letting staff go who are currently employed with us.”

In other school news, the board voted unanimously to approve the 2013-2014 calendar, which remains unchanged from the current year in terms of meeting 180 days of seat time and continuing across-the-board furloughs for all BCSS employees.

The board also voted unanimously to approve its FY 2014 adjusted budget, which saw a $497,763 loss in total revenues compared to May’s projected budget of $101.5 million in revenue, making the projected adjusted budget $100,986,458 in terms of revenue and $107,691,080 in expenditures. The projected budget deficit for 2014 is $6,704,622.