Super’s evaluation documents incomplete

Salary Info Obtained With FOI Request

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County school board members voted to extend Superintendent Dr. J.R. Green’s contract another year, but individual evaluations remain shrouded in secrecy.

The district, which has a $43 million budget and whose millage is more than half of a typical property tax bill, released only four evaluations from the seven-member board.

In addition, the forms that were released were anonymously written, making it impossible to determine how individual board members rated Green.

On Dec. 18, board members voted 4-1 to extend Green’s contract by one year to 2024. Paula Hartman voted in opposition.

The Voice requested individual evaluations the following day through the S.C. Freedom of Information Act, but the district didn’t provide the documents – consisting of four pages and a cover sheet – until Monday, Jan. 7.

Public bodies have 10 business days to respond to FOIA requests, according to state law.

Jay Bender, a media law attorney with the S.C. Press Association, of which The Voice is a member, said taxpayers are entitled to know precisely how school boards evaluate the superintendent.

“If the board members are evaluating the superintendent anonymously, that doesn’t seem like much of an evaluation to me,” Bender said. “If they’ve structured a process where the evaluations are all anonymous, it seems to me that that’s worthless.”

Board chairman William Frick couldn’t be reached for comment late Tuesday to address why only four evaluations were released or why they were conducted anonymously.

What the evaluations said

Three of the four evaluations give Green an “exemplary” rating in each of five categories: Community Engagement, Student Achievement, Leadership, Learning Environment and Fiscal Management.

The fourth form gave Green a “proficient” rating in Leadership and Learning Environment, and exemplary in the other three categories.

None of the evaluations released to The Voice gave Green a “needs improvement” ranking in any category.

Only two evaluations include written comments.

One board member praised Green for his “excellent fiscal management” and “continued improvements” in student achievement.

“I enjoy working with Dr. Green,” another board member wrote. “We need make it harder [sic], going too good!”

The glowing comments align with what a majority of board members stated publicly at the December board meeting.

“I’m glad we can essentially tie him down one additional year,” Frick said.

Board member Henry Miller said that Green is a heavily recruited superintendent, claiming that Richland One previously was interested in hiring him.

“They were definitely wanting him to leave us,” Miller said. “I’m just glad we have him. He’s a hot commodity all over the state.”

Hartman, who cast the lone dissenting vote, didn’t think extending Green’s contract was necessary. She said three-year contracts are standard in most school districts.

“I don’t think whether it’s three years or six years, it’s telling someone that we don’t want them,” Hartman said. “I don’t understand why we continue to keep it at six years.”

Frick said maintaining continuity with the superintendent is critical.

“We had a slight history in this district of superintendents not necessarily staying,” he said. “That was I believe a serious destabilizing effect on the community.”

Superintendent’s salary

Green said the contract extension is important to him because he interprets it as a vote of confidence from the board. He added that he has not asked for a salary increase.

That prompted Hartman to ask Green to publicly state his salary, but Green stated that he didn’t know it.

In response to The Voice’s FOIA request, the district listed Green’s annual salary at $182,287. His current annuity contribution is $29,165, documents state.

Green’s salary ranks toward the high end of Midlands area school districts, according The State newspaper’s online salary database.

Richland One Superintendent Craig Witherspoon makes the most at $222,895.29, followed by Lexington One Superintendent Gregory Little at $204,373.

Dr. Baron Davis, superintendent of Richland Two, makes $193,903, followed by Green, according to the database.

Christina Melton, superintendent of Lexington-Richland 5, follows at $175,000. The superintendents of Lexington 2, 3, and 4 make less than $169,000, the database states.