Barber’s Contract Extended by Unanimous Vote

Last night, the BCSD Board of Trustees unanimously voted to extend Dr. Lonnie Barber’s contract, a package worth around $200,000/yr, for another year. This decision came after much public comment noting consistently mediocre BCSD SAT scores in spite of yearly spending approximately $20,000/student/year. The public comment also questioned the quality of the administration’s oversight of the McKinstry construction work; disagreements about this work has led to the current lawsuit between the BCSD administration and McKinstry.

The Trustees stated that the evaluation process of Barber’s work had been long an innovative. New this year, the Trustees hired a firm to conduct interviews with district and school administrators to get a broader, fuller picture of Barber’s job performance and the working climate around him. According to the Trustees, this firm stated that the climate of the BCSD district office and its relations with school administrators is one of “collaboration, community and family” and that the findings by this firm were “all positive.”

After a motion to extend Barber’s contract was seconded, Trustee Nurge addressed the public comment made via email and in person to the Trustees concerning this decision. He noted that people claimed that our students were “performing dismally” and replied that he didn’t at all believe that to be the case and that the residents of Blaine County are indeed receiving “full value for the money spent” through the education given to our students. Trustee Bates stated that he had “felt like a punching bag for the previous two days.” He took to task claims that the students’ SAT performance demonstrated that the students’ full potential was not being reached. He stated that such claims “reflect upon all of us,” referring to himself and his fellow Trustees, “as well as everyone in the district.” He stated that he and his fellow Trustees tirelessly worked “hours and hours” for the good of our students. He appeared to be somewhat personally affronted.

There were no concerns or reservations about Barber’s job performance expressed by the Trustees during this meeting. While Trustee Nurge noted that there is “always room for improvement,” all of the Trustees’ discussion and comments regarding Barber’s job performance were positive. After the discussion about the evaluation process and a lengthy response to the public comment received, the Trustees proceeded to approve the motion to extend Dr. Barber’s contract another year by unanimous roll-call vote.

During the final public comment portion of the BCSD Board of Trustees Meeting, Sherry Thomas praised the thorough inclusion and involvement of all the administrators within the district in evaluating the Superintendent. She urged the Trustees in future Superintendent evaluations to include patron involvement – the residents of Blaine County. The full webcast of the meeting can be seen at BCSD’s EduVision.

updated 3/13/2013 at 4:55pm

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Barber’s Contract Extended by Unanimous Vote

  1. Well, Mr. Nurge, a quick look through the demographics of the SAT scores (now available on the web, thanks to the efforts of the State Department of Education) indicate clear deficiencies in the upper echelons of the scores. Even your own administrators will admit that the “demographics are troubling”. These score gaps are what are holding the District’s SAT scores back.

  2. Gary Hoffman

    Not being able to attend the BCSD meeting last evening, I submitted the following statement to be read aloud. There are several small changes in the printed version here; the text is virtually the same.

    “I am writing this as a semi-retired pediatrician of over 10 years standing in the Wood River Valley. I own 4 pieces of property here and pay more than $12,000 annually in property taxes. And so I feel that this qualifies and entitles me to render judgment as to the quality of the education received in view of the large percentage of my property tax payments dedicated to the school district. My feeling is clearly that the value received is not consistent with the monies expended.

    I specifically have a problem with Mr. Barber as superintendent presiding over a system that endorses mediocrity and markedly substandard performance in its students. Proof? In 2010 I learned with extreme dismay that a local worker that I employed indirectly was illiterate in both English and Spanish. This was an individual who had come to the U.S. as a young boy, been educated in the Blaine County School District, and had graduated with a diploma from Wood River High School! I was incensed enough at this blatant dumbing down of graduation standards that I called Mr Barber to discuss it. In fairness I must state that this student had graduated before Barber became superintendent.

    When this travesty of a high school graduate being illiterate in not one but two languages was brought to Barber’s attention, he came up with the following, uniquely unsatisfactory explanation. He said that the important thing to him was that students stay in school and graduate as opposed to dropping out. Nothing about alternative career choices. Nothing about vocational training or apprenticeships. Nothing about the fact that by his definition, a diploma from Wood River High School was worth little more than something useful to line a birdhouse. Nothing about the demeaning and cheapening effect it had on those students who had earned the SAME DIPLOMA by applying themselves diligently to the curriculum for 4 years. And of course nothing about the $20,000 per year that was being paid to essentially babysit the student during high school.

    I feel that Mr. Barber’s ideas of a superior higher education are so inconsistent with those of the bulk of parents in this community that he has effectively terminated his usefulness here. If the only way to achieve this is to change the makeup of the School Board Trustees, then let’s get on with it. Now.

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