Self-evaluation notes strengths and weaknesses of school board

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HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – The Hamilton Township Board of Education met Tuesday evening, Dec. 4 to discuss its annual self-evaluation and board goals.

Charlene Zoerb, field service representative for the New Jersey School Boards Association, explained to the board why self-evaluation is important and how it can be beneficial to the district.

Board members evaluate themselves individually and as a whole. The evaluation covers various areas including communication, ethics and planning. It's intended to help the board improve where there is weakness, and recognize its strengths.

According to the evaluation, the board could improve upon planning, board performance and board-superintendent team. Noted strengths include student achievement and finance, two areas that Superintendent Michelle Cappelutti said are important and say a lot about the board. Finance was an area of focus for the board a few years ago, and that area has improved tremendously, she said.

Zoerb commended the board for being honest in its evaluation because that is the only way it can improve.

"The worst type of evaluation is that when I go to the board and there's this glowing evaluation and I know in fact that that is not the performance level of that board,” Zoerb said.  “How do you improve if you don't recognize the areas where you need to do a better job?"

Board of Education President Anne Erickson noticed that there seemed to be a lot of self-satisfaction, but dissatisfaction with the board as whole.

Zoerb said it is not unusual for individuals on any board to believe that they are putting forth their best effort, while thinking that the board as a whole could be doing a better job.

As far as improving upon the questionable areas, the board plans on scheduling a retreat. The informal meeting would give members the opportunity to discuss how they can improve.

Zoerb also suggested a workshop with focuses on communication, ethics, planning and building a better board team. She said the workshop is a way for everyone to get on the same page.

Board members responded favorably to the idea.

"The challenge of being on the Board of Education is that your team changes,” Zoerb said. “So really at the beginning of the year, after reorganization, you have a whole new team, even if the change is one individual. That can make a big difference."

The board expects to schedule the retreat and workshop for January.

In addition to the board evaluations, the district hired MaryLynn Stecher as the district supervisor of special education and child study team. Cappelutti said she is looking forward to working with Stecher.


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