The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

July 7, 2013

New county school super praised in first evaluation

By Kim West
kwest@athensnews-courier.com

— The superintendent for Limestone County Schools received an overall positive report card from the Board of Education following a comprehensive performance review released July 2.

The school board hired Dr. Tom Sisk, a former human resources supervisor, in June 2012 from Baldwin County Schools. Bret McGill, the school board’s president, met with Sisk on Tuesday to review the results.

“The board overall is pleased with his performance during the first year. I took it as a positive evaluation, and I think the superintendent did, too. He was probably harder on himself than the board was in most areas,” McGill said Wednesday.

System employees, the seven board members and Sisk all completed a nine-category survey with a 1-to-5 scale. The range included unsatisfactory at one, improvement needed at two, solid performance at three, above expectations at four and exceptional at five.

The board’s composite score was 3.03, with seven categories rated with a solid performance that consistently fulfilled expectations and at times exceeded them. Only two categories — a 2.5 in communications and interpersonal relations and a 2.9 in management of student services — dipped into the category of improvement needed.

“When you have a new superintendent that comes into the system that made the scope of changes he made, a lot of people were going to be rubbed the wrong way,” McGill said. “There are times when he might be communicating very well, but people might not like what he is communicating.”

Both McGill and board member Earl Glaze said an area in which they would continue to seek continued improvement is the way the board is briefed on new initiatives.

“I think he has done really well with student accountability, and trying to do new things at the Tech School. I like his vision for trying to do construction projects, and he worked very hard to find funding to do that,” Glaze said. “There were times we did not have enough information when a new item was brought up during a board meeting … But I think he has done a pretty decent job as a first-year superintendent. He has made mistakes but he has been willing to admit them and move on from them.”

Sisk, whose self-evaluation composite of 3.11 nearly mirrored the board’s, received his highest marks as CEO of the school board and facilities management with a 3.3 in each area. In his first year, Sisk oversaw an $80.3 million operating budget and initiated a $26.1 million capital plan.

“I think the board was serious about their approach to the evaluation, and I know I was. My self-evaluation was very similar to the board’s, and I was surprised that the board holistically evaluated me pretty much the same way,” Sisk said Wednesday. “I look at the evaluation as an opportunity to get better, and I expect to get better. And I look at it as a tool to discover how I can get better at serving the children of Limestone County than I am now.”

Below is an average of the board’s evaluation, which considered the superintendent’s self-evaluation and survey results from system employees:

• 2.5 — communication/interpersonal relations;

• 2.9 — management of student services;

• 3.0 — educational leadership of the schools, personnel management and financial management,

• 3.1 — technology management;

• 3.2 — community relations;

• 3.3 — chief executive officer of the school board and facilities management.