New eval system draws praise from school board

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Presentations on a potential new evaluation system for the school superintendent and an energy-saving project for two schools drew positive reviews from the Board of Education president and will be discussed further by the board.

After representatives reviewed proposals with the board Thursday night, board President Paul Fitzpatrick said members may decide soon at upcoming meetings on whether to proceed with them.

Fitzpatrick said he favors changing to the new online evaluation system, adding it could be “doable this year” for Superintendent Peter C. Blake’s next evaluation after the current school year ends next June. There could be a decision “hopefully at the next board meeting,” pending board members trying out the system, he added.

Of the proposed energy-saving project for Rome Free Academy and Staley Elementary School, Fitzpatrick said “I like it....I think it’s a no-brainer” to pursue based on projected financial savings on energy expenses; savings would be generated by improvements in various operations at the schools, in projects with cost options of about $3.8 million or $4.9 million. He said it could be done separately from possible broader capital projects for those schools, adding the board will “discuss it...and move forward” including a decision.

In the presentations:

• Scott Read of the PLS 3rd Learning company outlined the “SuperEval” online evaluation system through a large-screen showing of its features.

The system, which includes allowing a superintendent to file supporting documents and information in relation to meeting goals, gives a superintendent a “chance to really dive into what he or she is doing,” said Read. A school board in turn gets to “see a snapshot” of the superintendent’s various activities, he said, adding that boards often may be “not aware of all the nuances.”

​The system also saves time with automatic compilations of ratings entered by individual board members, plus it uses color-coded symbols to “flag” differences in board ratings of a superintendent compared to a superintendent’s self-ratings, said Read. The ratings cover various categories and sub-categories. An overall rating can include such levels as “ineffective,” “developing,” “effective,” and “highly effective.”

The “SuperEval” program would cost $1,950 for the first year and then would be $1,800 annually, said Read. He added he would provide log-in information for board members who would like to look at the system further.

• Officials from C&S Companies of Syracuse reviewed energy-savings projects for RFA and Staley that could generate annual average net benefits of $191,563 after an approximately $3.8 million project expense, or $247,646 after a $4.928 million project expense. A project would “pay for itself” in 18 years, explained Andrea Orlando of C&S.

The projects could include improvements for such categories as LED light systems, high-efficiency boilers, the RFA air-conditioning chiller system, the RFA pool heating system, and weatherization and insulation measures. Among cost differences in the two project options are the number of light fixtures being converted and the amount of weatherization and insulation, plus other factors.

The projected net benefits are derived after balancing annual estimates for energy savings, state financial aid for the project, and a lease payment for the project, said Orlando. The project expense would have no impact for local taxpayers, she said. A project would be completed in 18 months. If the energy savings “come up short” of projections, C&S would send a check to the school district for the “difference in the units of energy that are not saved,” Orlando noted.

The board last July selected C&S as the provider for an energy performance contract project for the school district.

The company conducted an energy analysis for RFA and Staley, which offer the “greatest opportunities” and have not had energy-related work done in the last 15 years, Orlando commented.

The district’s other six elementary school buildings have undergone major overall renovations and upgrades in the past 10 years, while Strough Middle School’s Laurel Street building is currently being renovated.

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