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Boards give school superintendents passing grades

by Brandon Roberts & Western News
| January 14, 2009 11:00 PM

Whatever the position in a school district – students, teachers or superintendents – there are always tests.

This week the Libby and Troy superintendents had their yearly evaluations conducted by each district’s school boards.

Each district’s format of conducting the evaluations differs. In Troy on Monday, the board conducted normal business before closing to the public and entering executive session to evaluate themselves as well as superintendent Brady Selle.

Meanwhile in the Libby district – per request by superintendent Kirby Maki – the board had its evaluation open to the public through a special committee meeting. From that, the board recommended whether to re-enter a contract with Maki or release him.

Maki’s contract is signed on an annual basis, whereas Selle is in the second year of a three-year contract.

In a 4-3 vote, the special committee recommended Maki’s retention. The official decision will be taken up at the Tuesday, Jan. 20 regular board meeting.

In Troy, “the trustees have determined that superintendent Brady Selle has met or exceeded their expectations for this past year,” said Sylvia Maffit, board chair. “It was a great session and a cooperative effort.”

Troy conducts a joint evaluation, self-examining the board and the superintendent over the past year.

“There are benefits to a joint evaluation,” Maffit said. “Our job is to help Brady with the district and if we aren’t doing our job, how can he do his.”  

Selle said they use an extensive 10-page form.

“The unique thing is that it evaluated the board itself and then myself on a variety of areas,” Selle said. “This is how all of us did as a leadership organization; it is looking at us together, not just pointing at me.”

The Libby board has not conducted a self-evaluation in two or three years and until this year, its committee meetings were held in private.

Libby chairman Jerry Frament began the meeting by making one positive and one negative comment about the board. However, only Frament and trustees Lee Disney and Tracy Comeau made comment of the seven present.

Disney, who has served on the school board for more than a decade, said he has never sat in an open evaluation of the superintendent.

“I respect Kirby to stand in front of the public, and accept the criticism admirably from the board,” Disney said.

“It is a team that can make things happen in a positive way for the best outcome of the kids,” Maki said. “I feel good about a lot of what we have done, though not everyone will agree.”

Trustee Paula Darko-Hensler spoke against allowing public comment during the committee meeting and said she would object to anyone reading her evaluation.

“We work for the taxpayers and we represent them,” Darko-Hensler said.

However, she said the superintendent is responsible for coalition building with the community.

The Libby evaluation ranked Maki’s yearly review as satisfactory. Disney made the motion to approve the retention of Maki for the 2009-10 school year.

The four votes in support came from Disney, Frament, Tony Rebo and Bruce Sickler. The dissenting votes came from Darko-Hensler, Comeau and Gela Koehler.