I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

National School Boards Association Convention San Diego 2009 Day 1

I'm attending the NSBA convention in San Diego this weekend, and this year's convention is shaping up to be a good one.

It is my opinion that this convention is the single best event/learning opportunity yearly for school board members. This once a year event allows us to network with other board members from around the nation. It is also the best forum for meeting education suppliers/purveyors and seeing the latest state of the art products available in the education industry. Additionally, this event allows an opportunity for board members to attend break-out sessions to learn about successful programs from around the nation.

I understand that the Escambia County School District is currently in an unprecedented budget crisis, and it is for this reason that I am paying my own way to the conference this year; I'm not seeking reimbursement for airfare, lodging, rental car, meals or any other travel related expense associated with my attendance of this event. I just want to make that clear--but I also want to make it clear that I'm attending this event because I feel it is important as a board member to stay abreast of the latest happenings in education.

This morning, I attended a session on rational teacher/administrator evaluations that put Student Educational Improvement as the number one metric. The presentation was byRobert Summers, CEO (superintendent) of a school district in the state of Ohio, the Butler Technology and Career Development School District.

This school district demands performance from it's staff, and along the way went from being ranked number 41st in student achievement statewide to being ranked 1st (from 2001 to 2008). This district's philosophy is simple--put sudents needs in first priority position--faculty and staff second. This organization has been honored as a Malcolm Baldridge high quality school district--a notable distinction.

This district evaluates all administrators yearly, but only evaluates selected, low performing teachers yearly, (smartly eliminating the paper-chase of evelauating every teacher, even good ones, yearly) and if the low performing teachers do not shape up RAPIDLY, these low performers are "externally promoted" (terminated). This includeds "tenured" faculty--if these faculty are not meeting expectations.

This organization's goals are summarized as follows:

1. Focus on student success, not staff comfort
2. Support high quality staff, but move out poor performers, students should not have to be training pawns.
3. Be clear about what is expected, then expect it.
4. Provide premier support to the faculty and staff that perform
5. Don't be afraid to treat people differently based ontheir ability to improve student success.

This district's website can be viewed here:

I've got to say that I was excited and energized to see this presentation--I'd like to see an approach similar to this used in Escambia County! This Ohio district's success illustrates the fact that keeping top performers and quickly removing low performers is a recipe for superior performance.

Next up on the schedule for today, a presentation and speech from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, then three more break out sessions on the following topics:

1. National Teacher of the Year--connecting big ideas in science
2. Saving district's money using open source technology resources
3. Negotiating work agreements and contracts--putting students first


Robert Sommers said...

Jeff, I'm pleased you enjoyed the presentation. My state board member tracks your blog and saw the post. If there is anything I can do to help you advance your work, just let me know.

Bob Sommers

Jeff Bergosh said...


I really got a lot out of your presentation, and I especially like the way your organization puts students first at the heart of the decision making process. I'm sharing the story of your district's success at a board workshop here in Escambia county on Thursday---I only wish more board members could be exposed to your district's story....

Hope to see you next year at NSBA in Chicago.

Jeff Bergosh