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Published November 26, 2013, 09:11 PM

Performance evaluation time for Grand Forks superintendent

Grand Forks School Board members discussed ways to improve the school district’s public communications during the equivalent of a midterm exam of Superintendent Larry Nybladh on Tuesday.

By: Jennifer Johnson, Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks School Board members discussed ways to improve the school district’s public communications during the equivalent of a midterm exam of Superintendent Larry Nybladh on Tuesday.

The district’s superintendent evaluation committee, composed of several School Board members, discussed Nybladh’s performance throughout the year and also what the board wants to accomplish in the future, which includes improved communication with the public.

The committee has been gathering now for several months to develop and fine-tune the evaluation, which was based on the district’s strategic plan. Several community and school groups were involved in creating the five-year plan, which was updated in January by School Board members.

Communication

Committee members spent some time talking about the communication problems the School Board and Nybladh have run into this year. Communication was one of the five evaluation areas.

Several months ago, the board endured public ire after it proposed a 28.6 percent property tax increase. The pressure eventually led the board to approve a smaller increase of 21.6 percent.

Nybladh said he’s learned from the experience, but added the district has made efforts to communicate with the public.

For example, Business Manager Vicky Schwartz created a budget overview and handout that answered questions from the public, he said. In addition, the board hasn’t always received media coverage when discussing the budget at meetings, he said.

When the district formed a demographic task force in 2011 to see whether there was a need for a new school, public input was also accepted, he said.

“I think some people forget that because it was done two years ago,” he said.

School Board vice president and committee member Mike St. Onge said the board wants to get better at communicating its mission and progress, so in the future it will try to be more transparent by trying several different avenues. They want to see improvements to the district’s website and provide more information about school budget and construction updates on the new school on the city’s south end, among other things, committee members said.

“There are massive amounts of information that need to get out to different constituent groups,” said Nybladh.

Four areas

Nybladh was assessed in four other areas: his oversight of administration, curriculum and instruction, personnel decisions and his leadership decisions.

Board members provided written evaluations of Nybladh, a few of which were read at the committee meeting.

State law requires the superintendent be evaluated twice a year. The first one is a “formative,” due in December, that assesses his current performance and how the board wants him to improve, while the second one, due in March, summarizes how he met his goals.

Nybladh commended the committee on its progress toward the district’s strategic plan and for contemplating the issues the district faces.

“I appreciate the opportunity for a midterm assessment,” he said. “It not only helps me, but it also helps my administrative staff and teachers.”

Comments in his review will be summarized and presented to the School Board for approval at its Dec. 9 meeting.

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