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As part of its continued focus to provide resources to school board presidents, the New Jersey School Boards Association will be answering questions through its monthly Board President’s Corner column. This month’s question is below. Submit your question and you may see it featured next time.

Question: As board president, what do I need to know about evaluating our chief school administrator, or superintendent?

The chief school administrator evaluation is required by law. Every local board of education with a CSA must evaluate his or her performance at least once a year in writing.

As board president, you should ensure your board carries out the evaluation and that you meet deadlines. You should use the assessment to spark a conversation with your fellow board members and your superintendent on how to move your district forward as the evaluation is the board’s means of overseeing and appraising the effective management of the school district.

The evaluation will be based on the goals and objectives of the district, responsibilities of the superintendent and other such criteria prescribed by the New Jersey State Board of Education.

The written evaluation must reflect the majority perspective of the board, and any minority perspectives should be shared at the meeting with the superintendent. In addition, the evaluation of the superintendent is required to be a provision within the superintendent’s employment contract with the board.

Boards of education are required to adopt a policy and implementation procedures for the annual evaluation of the superintendent by the district board of education. The policy is required to identify the evaluation criteria, which must be based upon the board of education’s annual district goals; program objectives, including indicators of student progress and growth; policies; instructional priorities; state goals; statutory requirements; and the functions, duties and responsibilities of the superintendent.

The entire evaluation procedure, including the preparation of the annual written summary evaluation performance report and the holding of the annual summary conference, must be completed by July 1 each year. The performance report must include areas of strength, areas that need improvement, recommendations for professional growth and indicators of student progress and growth. A summary conference meeting shall include a majority of the total board membership.

Boards of education are required to ensure that all written performance reports and supporting data regarding the superintendent are added to their personnel file. These records are confidential and are not subject to public inspection or copying pursuant to the Open Public Records Act (N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq).

Additionally, each newly appointed or elected district board of education member is required to complete a New Jersey School Boards Association training program on the evaluation of the superintendent/chief school administrator within six months of the commencement of their term of office. The Association’s New Board Member Orientation program covers this material in detail.

As an ethics reminder, a board member whose relative works in the districts may not take part in the evaluation process.

You can learn more about the evaluation process as well as the role the board president is expected to carry out in NJSBA’s Guide to the Chief School Administrator Evaluation Process.