Saying the community is "fortunate to have a superintendent who is an innovative educator and instructional leader," the Jefferson County Board of Education unanimously approved a glowing evaluation of Superintendent Sheldon Berman Monday night.
"We wish to applaud Dr. Berman for his commitment to ensuring all our students are offered a high-quality education in a setting that supports them and meets their needs," Chairwoman Debbie Wesslund read from a board statement...
Dueling surveys recently yielded different results on Berman.
A survey of almost 1,000 teachers conducted by the Jefferson County Teachers Association gave him a "C" overall, with some teachers describing him as manipulative, self-serving and hypocritical...
An annual survey administered by the school district to 6,558 teachers, administrators and staff that was discussed at the meeting found that of the 4,670 who responded, more than 80 percent felt "the superintendent and central office administrators provide effective leadership for my school." ...
JCTA's Brent McKim told C-J, "The overwhelming number of teachers on my governing bodies would like to see him gone."
The teachers' union clashed with Berman after the contracts of more than a dozen non-tenured teachers were not renewed last year because of performance issues. Union members said the district was getting rid of the teachers without trying to help them.
Berman was correct to dump underperforming non-tenured teachers, some of whom had behaved terribly, and it seemed to this observer that he bend backwards to compromise. But criticism is part of being a superintendent, even if it is not always deserved.
On the other hand, Berman's self-assessment of the death of Pleasure Ridge Park High School football player Max Gilpin, appears to have been reduced to "the tragic death of a student athlete" - and tragic it was. But if he reflected critically upon his own handling of the disciplining of Principal David Johnson and the untimely release of the internal investigation - then, only under court order - C-J didn't report it. Berman chose to employ passive voice writing that, "situations created times of tension and difficulty."
Berman was also credited, even by McKim, for "the district's new student assignment plan to ensure diversity in schools and his efforts to make student instruction more inquiry-based."
C-J doesn't say, but it seems clear from the kinds of comments reported that Berman's evaluation was conducted behind closed doors. I'm generally in favor of everything being done in public. But it's very hard, in this case, to imagine any kind of meaningful public discussion of the year Berman has had without the whole scene turning into a circus.