Staff, students, parents, and taxpayers to give feedback on Cobb Superintendent
by Lindsay Field
February 26, 2013 01:22 AM | 4325 views | 17 17 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Michael Hinojosa<br>Staff/file
Dr. Michael Hinojosa
Staff/file
slideshow
Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa is taking the unusual step of sending out a survey as part of the annual evaluation of his job performance.

Kerr & Downs Research of Tallahassee, Fla., was awarded a $12,450 contract in light of the school board’s agreeing to a newly structured superintendent evaluation in October.

It will help the district get feedback from parents, high school students, staff and Cobb County taxpayers, and account for 10 percent of the superintendent’s overall evaluation and be conducted annually.

District spokesman Jay Dillon said stakeholder surveys are common, but including one as part of an evaluation is quite rare.

“The evaluation form was Dr. Hinojosa’s idea, and he had used a similar practice when he was in Dallas,” Dillon said. “It makes the evaluation more objective and less subjective.”

He couldn’t say if there were any other districts that conduct similar surveys.

Board Member David Morgan, who proposed the more in-depth evaluation in July, said he, too, isn’t aware of any other districts surveying stakeholders about their superintendents, but it’s a way that they can “continue to move the needle in terms of performance.”

“I think it’s an example that we are not only receiving (stakeholder) input but valuing it by it as being part of (Hinojosa’s) overall job performance,” Morgan said. “It’s also a great way for the stakeholders to know that they have a say-so in the performance of our superintendent.”

Newly sworn in and recently appointed Board Chair Randy Scamihorn said he thinks it’s good to get feedback from parents, teachers, students and taxpayers. But he’s a little concerned about the price tag.

Scamihorn wasn’t in office when the board approved the new evaluation form and said he can’t help but wonder what other things that $12,000 could go toward, including staff development or conferences.

“I’m willing to try any new ideas to come up with better data or information, though,” he said.

What are the details of the survey?

The board approved the district’s spending up to $15,000 to conduct the survey last fall.

Dillon said five bids were submitted in response to the requests for proposals.

The second and third place proposals came from Patron Insights Inc. of Stilwell, Kan., which submitted an $8,000 bid, and Kennesaw State University’s Research and Service Foundation with a $13,700 bid.

The process began last week with student surveys.

They were sent to all 16 high schools via email Feb. 20.

Dillon said each principal was asked to select one or two classes of ninth through 12th grade students to take the survey.

Email invitations for the Internet survey for staff, parents and taxpayers were sent out Monday and will be open through Wednesday.

Those surveyed are being randomly picked by Kerr & Downs out of a file the district gave them that includes parent and employee contact information, Dillon said.

“They have their own means of finding stakeholders … not sure how they do it, but I believe some of the data comes from the Board of Elections,” he said.

The company’s goal is to collect at least 200 responses per group.

“Response rates will be different for each group,” Dillon said. “They anticipate a 1 percent response rate for the taxpayer group, which means they will need to call and email at least 20,000 people. For employees, students and parents, the response rate will be much higher.”

Survey responses will be analyzed by Kerr & Downs and reported back to the district within two weeks of surveys being completed, or around mid-March.

Dillon said he expects the results to be talked about at a future board meeting, but he couldn’t say exactly when. Results will also be posted online for public viewing.

All but the “Board/Superintendent Relations” portion of the evaluation, which accounts for 15 percent of the superintendent evaluation, will be made public.

Other parts of the evaluation include graduation rates and Advanced Placement test participation data, the percentage of students exceeding on the Criterion-Referenced Competency and End-of-Course tests, individual school performance and fiscal management.

Will the survey be considered in contract renewal?

Dillon said the survey could be considered when the board takes up Hinojosa’s contract for renewal, but Scamihorn said his understanding of it is that the survey will be reflected in the annual evaluation, which is scheduled for June.

Hinojosa’s contract expires on June 30.

Scamihorn said the board will be considering extending the date of the superintendent’s current contract during Thursday’s board meeting, not issuing him a new contract.

“Currently, I’m satisfied with what I’ve seen,” he said. “He had a rocky start with Teach For America, Race to the Top and charter schools, but he learned from it and quickly realized the politics of the county and he changed directions, and I think you can only ask that of any employee.”

From other board members, he’s also heard “very little criticism.”

“There has been some or little (concerns) but not from the majority of the board members,” he said.
Comments
(17)
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a watcher
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February 27, 2013
Why would anybody approve of his performance? The man is still driving with Texas plates on his automobile. You have 39 days to register your vehicle when you move to Georgia he has been here a year plus.
Marietta Successful
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February 26, 2013
Marietta City is very successful with their superintendent. Why can't Cobb County School Board hire a competent woman? Maybe it is time for a woman at this district because the men are crooked and it isn't working out at all! Crooked Morgan and his wife seem to have Hinojosa in their back pocket. David Morgan should not even qualify to be on the board due to his dealings with Teach for America and his wife.
anonymous
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February 26, 2013
I received the invitation to take the survey in my school e-mail. When I tried to take it a message came up that the survey time had already expired even tho it was sent to me only 6 hours before I opened it. Now if others got the same message the school district is not going to get any responses yet have to pay the company for putting the survey out there.
Voice of Reason
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February 26, 2013
Give me the $12,000 and I'll do the same thing on Survery Monkey and the information will get used the same way - get thrown in the trash and ignore Board poor choice of this Fort-worthless Superindtendent and go pick another one - this time with the ipad idea instead of laptops!
All I care about is.
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February 26, 2013
Did Kathryn Euston approve of this survey????

Been There
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February 26, 2013
I remember the week off or three days off for Thanksgiving survey. Most wanted a week off, but the board went back to three days off, then back to a week. That being said this should be done for princpals and assistant principals. Teachers, parents,and students are more informed about the building administration than someone they have litte to no relationship with. And, the evaluation should be worth at least 15 to 20 percent of the evaluation. No way should a "bad" administrator receive an "A".
Good idea
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February 26, 2013
This is another can't-win for the school district. If they don't ask the stakeholders for input, then they get criticized. If they do ask the stakeholders for input, then they get criticized. I, for one, think it's a good idea. Spending $12,500 every year to gather stakeholder feedback is a pittance for an organization the size of the school district. I can assure you that large corporations easily spend 10 to 100 times that much to find out how they are doing. It's worth it.
Are you clueless
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February 26, 2013
Do you honestly believe that the board cares about what the public thinks? Get a grio. They have made it clear that they do not take anything the public or teachers want into account. No one wanted this superintendent because he was not successful in Dallas and had a 50 million dollar problem. Yet, the board hired him. He wants to replace teachers with online computer education. He gave the staff a days pay in December knowing we are short money for next year. Does anyone care? No.
sammisel
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February 26, 2013
What a waste of CCSD and taxpayer dollars. I am still waiting for Hinojosa to release his last performance review (I hear it was not very favorable) so interesting that they would do a bogus survey now. Is it for the benefit of SACS in light of what is happening in Dekalb? And to poll people who have no idea what is going on in the district office, is just insulting to those of us who do. I am not surprised at all by this revelation. Agree with Mr. Scamihorn, Hinojosa has made some bad decisions while he has been here. I say we start over, and pick the right superintendant. No more good ole boys, or ones that are politically correct... how bout a woman who knows the district?
Cobb Taxpayer
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February 26, 2013
Who is in control here?

1. "awarded a $12,450 contract in light of the school board’s agreeing to a newly structured superintendent evaluation in October." Why waste time and money, what is the reason or need?

2. "board approved the district’s spending up to $15,000 to conduct the survey last fall." When the school system is facing a major deficit they approve spending more money.

3. "All but the “Board/Superintendent Relations” portion of the evaluation, which accounts for 15 percent of the superintendent evaluation, will be made public." So what exactly will be released? Dr. Hinojosa will not even release his board evaluation. Why are taxpayers who pays his salary left in the dark about his evaluation.

4. "board will be considering extending the date of the superintendent’s current contract during Thursday’s board meeting, not issuing him a new contract." So if the board is pleased with his performance, why just an extension and not a new contract.

I'm sure the board is concerned if any issues surround Hinojosa are made public this will hurt their chance of passing SPLOST. I would like to see a new superintendent.

yupp
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February 26, 2013
Yes, sadly its all about passing SPLOST isnt it? I agree, we need new leadership, not only from a superintendant but from many of the old guard. Let's get some new blood in there. Also feel board members should only be allowed to serve one term.
anonymous
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February 26, 2013
What a complete waste of money. They're surveying 20,000 random citizens about...the school superintendent? How many of these people actually read any newspaper? Maybe two percent if we're lucky.

Surveying low-information voters at taxpayer expense for no apparent purpose. Just great.
Waste of Money
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February 26, 2013
Many parents and teachers know the reality of surveys administered in Cobb County. One of the last major surveys that was utilized was for the year round calendar. Parents and teachers voted 70% against it and the board still voted for it. Surverys mean nothing...and by the way, is there talk of the Superintendant's contract not being renewed? Why?? He just got here.
Craig Kootsillas
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February 26, 2013
Because he has broken the law.
Jack Handy
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February 26, 2013
Deep thoughts, from Waste and Craig

Craig Kootsillas
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February 26, 2013
On 10/31/2011, Hinojosa applied for a $50,000 grant.

According to the budget included in the grant application, $35,000 was to go to travel, $5,500 for supplies, $4,500 for "other".

According to the application, the governing board was to include Ms. April Jones, education policy analyst of the office of State Rep Alisha Thomas Morgan and Mrs. Alicia Thomas Morgan, wife of school board member David Morgan and GA State Representative for house district 39.

In the grant application, Hinojosa attested that he had the authority to apply for the grant - that the school board had passed a motion granting the authority.

That never happened. Board members (aside from David Morgan presumably) were unaware of the application.

I spoke to board members and other community leaders at the time and was told to wait for the evaluation.

I wanted to see him removed immediately.

It is now up to our elected officials on the school board to act on this matter.

Do the right thing. This cannot be allowed to stand.
your tax dollars
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February 26, 2013
It is unbelievable that the contract extension will occur BEFORE the evaluation.
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