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JPS superintendent gets favorable evaluation

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news Jamestown, 58401
Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

The Jamestown Public School Board has completed its first annual evaluation of Superintendent Rob Lech.

Lech began his one-year, $130,000 contract with the district on July 1 and inherited a projected $800,000 budget deficit for the end of his first year.

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Overall Lech received a positive review, and said he was pleased with the evaluations.

“It’s a process we go through, and I guess I look at it as an opportunity to coach for growth and I always look forward to those opportunities to grow professionally,” Lech said.

The evaluation uses a 3-point rating system for the various questions in nine different categories. Board members rated Lech with 3 points if he exceeded their expectations in that area, 2 points if he met their expectations and 1 point for not meeting expectations. The board adopted the evaluation form last summer, and Lech said some board members have talked about eliminating the point system.

“The biggest component to understand is that there’s really two ratings: satisfactory or unsatisfactory,” Lech said. “We equated some numbers in there to give a little bit of a range to understand where people were at. Any time you just have two options you don’t get a lot of feedback.”

In the first category, “Relationship with the board,” seven of the nine board members gave Lech scores ranging from 2 to 2.9 points, and board member Heidi Larson said he exceeded her expectations. The only low score came from board member Roy Musland, who said Lech did not meet expectations for making sound recommendations for board actions. Musland also noted that facilitating the decision-making process for the board was not applicable to the superintendent’s responsibilities.

In the second category, “Community and public relations,” Musland also gave the superintendent a low score on “Periodic communications are informative, interesting and well received.” Five of the other nine board members said he met expectations in that area, and members Larson, Tanya Ostlie and board President Roger Haut said he exceeded their expectations.

Lech met or exceeded all board members’ expectations in the categories “Staff personnel management,” Business and fiscal management” and “Facilities management,” however, board members Musland, Ostlie, Greg Allen and Gail Martin all noted the question “Completes the year within the approved budget” was not applicable in evaluating a first-year superintendent who has not completed his first fiscal year.

In the sixth category, “Curriculum management,” the only low scores for Lech came from board member Shelly Jystad, who said Wednesday her scores were entered in error and called Lech’s performance “satisfactory” in that area. In her evaluation she wrote she hopes the board will continue to use him as a resource and expert within our district.

“The superintendent needs to be a good listener and allow the board members time for conversation and exchange of ideas, thoughts and action plans,” she wrote in her evaluation last month. “This exchange of ideas amongst all members will be our strength rather than merely turning to our superintendent for a recommendation. Of course, this recommendation is valuable and important information, but the temptation is to skip the process which may give the appearance of the rubber stamp system.”

Lech met the board’s expectations and exceeded Larson’s expectations in the remaining categories, “Student services management,” “Personal and professional attributes” — where he also got perfect scores from board members Haut, Ostlie and Diane Haut —  and “Management and professional attributes.” 

“Those ratings and the comments associated with those ratings really help me gain a better understanding of where I am and how I can get better,” Lech said. “So I really do appreciate the opportunity to do it and I take my evaluations very seriously, and I like to have this process completed because ultimately our goal is to be the best that we can be. Without that consistent level of feedback we won’t know that, so I appreciate those things.”

The school board will re-evaluate Lech in December if the board decides to renew his contract after the school year ends this spring.

Sun reporter David Luessen can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at dluessen@jamestownsun.com

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