By Collin Brooks
The Washington County Board of Education delivered their annual performance evaluations to first year Washington County Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton this week. Overall, the board rated Halliburton at an average score of 3.79. Rating her above a 3 (expectation) on everything except “Remains impartial toward the board, treating all board members alike ( a 2.89 rating) and “Refrains from criticism of individual or group members of the board,” (a rating of 2.67).
The board was to mail their evaluations to the Tennessee School Board Association in Nashville by May 11. They were then emailed to the Washington County Central Office on Thursday, May 18 with a copy sent to the News & Neighbor later that day.
The News & Neighbor requested the documents from the TSBA on May 10, after which, Director Dr. Tammy Grissom sent out an email, telling all Washington County BOE members that media had requested a copy of their individual evaluations, which was confirmed by multiple Washington County school board members.
Four evaluations (Jack Leonard, Mary Beth Dellinger, Todd Ganger and Mike Masters) were signed before the email was sent, while four ( David Hammond, Phillip McLain, Keith Ervin and Annette Buchanan) were signed after the email was sent on May 10th or 11th. Clarence Mabe did not date his copy.
It was the first set of evaluations for Halliburton as the district’s new director and she said that they will help her address things that she may have not seen.
“For the most part I am pleased with almost all of the board members evaluations of me and I am really thankful that they were reflective about it, and took it seriously,” Halliburton said. “Many of them, but not all, called me to gather more information and I appreciate the time they took to do that.”
But that doesn’t mean that all of the votes were favorable for Halliburton.
The most “below expectation” votes came when it was dealing with the relationship that she has with the BOE.
Ervin, BOE vice-chairman, kept most of his votes within the 2-4 range, giving Halliburton six “below expectation” votes on her relationship with the board. He did, however, give her seven “above expectation” votes of the 12 possible in the her community relationships, with one “below expectations” vote on “Recognizes and values diversity.”
Buchanan provided Halliburton with seven “below expectation” votes and one “significantly below expectation” vote when it came to “Refrains from criticism of individual or group members of the board.” The rest of her votes were closer to at or above expectations.
Buchanan said she took the evaluation very seriously, even calling Halliburton to ask her about specific questions she had.
“I took the evaluation very seriously,” she said. “As I would have wanted anyone that would evaluate myself in a job.”
Phillip McLain gave her three “below expectation” votes when it came to the board relationship, but also provided her with two “above expectation” votes when it came to keeping the board informed. The rest of his votes in that category were at expectation.
McLain also gave her high praise, voting all “significantly above expectations” when it came to performance objectives and recognizing student achievement.
When asked about his ratings, McLain said, “We have a new director that has the opportunity to be a great director, and take our county school system forward. I looked forward to year two,” he wrote through a text message.
Mary Beth Dellinger, who was elected to the school board during last August’s elections, was Halliburton’s harshest critic. Dellinger rated 83 of her 120 ratings below expectations (38) or significantly below expectations (45) — the worst grade available. Dellinger did give Halliburton 36 votes “at expectations” and one “above expectation” vote in “Uses technology effectively to manager school operations.
“On technology she has done a good job,” Dellinger said about her vote, “As well as being visible in the community, such as ball games, and other community events.”
In the community relationship questions, Dellinger gave Halliburton an “at expectation” vote on eight of the 12 questions.
But it was the opposite on the list of questions that addressed the relationship with the board.
Dellinger gave Halliburton eight “significantly below expectation” votes and three “below expectation votes”. She did give Halliburton one “at expectation” vote when it came to keeping all board members informed on issues, needs and operation of the school system.
Dellinger claimed that the director doesn’t listen to all the stakeholders in the system and that she has fielded complaints from parents in the system that feel like they don’t have input. Dellinger also said that she has heard complaints that the director favors some schools over others and doesn’t provide proper publicity and attention to schools with lower income demographics.
“When I ran for school board people told me they wanted change, meaning less bureaucracy and more money spent in the classrooms,” Dellinger said. “No positions have been cut at the Central Office, in fact two more have been added. I feel eliminating instructional assistants and adding more supervisors is not going to help our students in the classroom. Those are my main concerns.”
Halliburton didn’t chose to discuss that specific matter, after a request from the News & Neighbor, but she did note that the system has started two new outreach programs into the community since she started as director, including a Parent-Director Alliance Team and a Teacher-Director Alliance Team. Each group has two parents or teachers from each school appointed to the board by the principal and meets monthly for input.
Halliburton also said that she is looking to start at Student-Director Alliance Team. She said feedback is extremely important in her role as director.
“I’ll be reaching out to many of them (board members) about some of the concerns they might have and I’ll be looking for ways and specific suggestions for some of the things that they scored me lower in and ways that I can improve,” Halliburton said.
She said she hopes to have those meetings before the students return to school fromtheir summer break, so that she can work on them before the students go into the classroom.
Multiple board members elected not to comment on the evaluations, because they had not seen all of the documents. Board Chairman Jack Leonard’s only comment that “I think she (Halliburton) is doing a good job.”
Former Chairman Todd Ganger, who negotiated the contract with Halliburton on the BOE’s behalf agreed with Leonard.
“I think she has done a great job,” Ganger said. “You know there is a learning curve for her and next year she will only get better.”
The board is set to talk about the evaluations during their June 1 meeting.