Board gives superintendent solid grade

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

School board members showered Clovis Municipal School Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm with the equivalent of As and Bs in an evaluation of her performance completed late last month.

The superintendent received a mean rating equivalent to an A- in the six-tiered evaluation, which measured her performance in 49 areas of responsibility. She rated highest in educational leadership and lowest in business and finance.

Providing more evidence of their strong approval, board members extended Seidenwurm’s contract by two years. It will now expire in June 2008.

Board members said they would consider giving Seidenwurm a raise in April when they set the school budget.

In her eight months on the job, Seidenwurm received a fair amount of criticism.

She chose to return, next year, to a six-period schedule at the high school despite teachers’ overwhelming support of a block schedule. Instead of the 90-minute class periods of the block schedule, teachers are allotted 55 minutes per class under the six-period schedule.

Also, many parents disapproved of two cost-cutting measures she proposed last fall. Board members narrowly approved one of those measures, merging Bella Vista Elementary School with Lincoln-Jackson Arts Academy, while postponing another, the closure of Ranchvale Elementary. Seidenwurm rescinded her recommendation to close Ranchvale this week, citing optimism that Cannon Air Force Base will receive a new mission rather than close and that state funding will be more than had been predicted earlier.

The controversial issues helped spur support from some school board members.

“She has taken on very difficult issues with courage and integrity,” board member Max Best said.

Board member Mark Lansford also applauded the superintendent for her integrity.

“I believe she stood up for what she believed is right,” Lansford said, “regardless of how the political wind was blowing. That is a trait I admire.”

Best, reflecting her ratings, said Seidenwurm excels in educational leadership.

“She is really in touch with trends nationwide and statewide in education,” he said.

Seidenwurm said she was “thrilled” to have her contract extended.

“I told the board when they hired me I wouldn’t be here longer than nine years. I am glad they wanted me for a third (year),” Seidenwurm said.

Board ratings

School Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm received ratings in six categories from school board members during her recent evaluation. The highest rating is 3.0. These were her averages:

Category Score
Educational leadership 2.79
Relationship with the board 2.77
Community relationships 2.70
Personal qualities 2.69
Staff and promotional relationships 2.54
Business and finance 2.50

3 — exceeds expectations
2 — meets expectations
1 — needs improvement
I — insufficient information

Source: Clovis schools