Board chair Jennifer Yenssen explained the review was delayed from its originally scheduled time in order to complete the education outreach, read: the Messrs. Fix-its review and surveys. Alton's name and reputation have certainly been the centre of much attention throughout this process. The entire process also provided an opportunity to see how some trustees don't understand their role in today's school board governance. Many trustees don't see their role as corporate governors, providing policy and financial approval to board business but doing so through the only employee they actually hire and supervise-- the director of education.
Trustees are prepared to shift the format of the director's performance review to one that uses feedback and data from those who work most closely with Alton, such as the senior administrative team, central office staff, principals and union heads, as was suggested by education consultant Geoff Williams.None of these evaluation concepts are earth-shattering for those with experience in evaluating those who hold positions of senior management. As an employee at a non-profit some years ago, I completed one of these 360 evaluations on my own supervisor at the time as part of his performance review.
Williams, who was dispatched to the Bluewater headquarters last year at the request of Education Minister Kathleen Wynne to help the board work through its problems, says trustees will find that data gathered year-round from staff reports and surveys will help them enormously in the evaluation process.
"They will absolutely be able to gauge whether the director is doing the things the director is supposed to be doing from this information. A 360-degree survey collects data the board is looking for on an ongoing basis from a variety of sources . . . they should be collecting evidence over a period of time as opposed to receiving it as part of a one-shot event," said Williams, adding that he doesn't see the delay in the review being problematic.
Oh, and to clarify-- I wouldn't expect Alton's review to be conducted in public. Don't expect to be able to sit in the meeting where trustees sit down with her and discuss her review, as this is a textbook example of an in-camera meeting that every board follows when conducting its director of education performance reviews. Once she has received it though, it's fair game to ask the chair of the board whether Alton received a favourable review or not. For those who want to know more, it may also be fair game to pony up the $5 for the freedom of information request and ask for a copy of the evaluation. The request might be declined by the board, but overwhelming public interest would be a good route to appeal (another $25 fee) it to the Information and Privacy Commissioner.