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.