RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — Richland 2 superintendent Katie Brochu has submitted a 75-page response to school board members who had raised a series of questions about the direction of the district and the costs of the professional training she has instituted for teachers and administrators.
About 25 pages was a direct response to board inquiries following a tense public meeting in late October Another 50 pages were devoted to line items delineating the cost of Schlechty Center professional training that Brochu has embraced for the district, said board member Bill Flemming. Members received the information Wednesday.
The total amount of money is what we have always been spending, about $600,000, Flemming said of the professional training.
Brochu addressed ways she plans to improve what some perceived as flagging relationships between the school district and the community, and more importantly, how she plans to tackle the thorny issue of sliding academic scores, he said. Some of the information in her response was repeated from the district progress report she submitted to the board in early October.
We have to work on the academics now, Flemming said. Our scores, now over the last seven years, have been slipping.
Board member James Manning said that, too, remains for him the critical element that Brochu must address in coming months.
For me the missing piece is not being afraid of change but figuring out how we measure success, how do I measure whether we are successful, Manning said. He said an initial look at her responses suggested he may have further questions to ask of Brochu.
With a lot of things in the district, you (Brochu) are telling me you are doing things, but you havent given me a measure to see that we are making the mark.
Flemming characterized the boards evaluation of Brochu, as middle-of-the-road to critical, and said it perhaps served as a wake-up call to Brochu, who came to the district in July 2010 and earns $223,000.
Brochu, who succeeded veteran superintendent Steve Hefner, slashed the number of administrators and moved to eliminate many working retirees, initiatives that were met with protest and suspicion that she was changing the Richland 2 culture.
Overall for what we have asked Katie to do and what she has had to do, shes done it, Flemming said. Lets just face it, anybody coming into this job after a longtime superintendent, its tough.
A newly released climate study found of those employees who responded, most are satisfied with their jobs and the district.
That leaves Manning in the weeds a bit about exactly what should be addressed beyond academics.
Im not sure what I can put my finger on, Manning said. Overall, people are happy. My phone is not beat up nor my email saying we are going down the toilet.
Flemming said the portfolio style of evaluation, which focused on goals rather than numbers, was unfamiliar to some board members who were used to a more straightforward, analysis of the district based on quantifiable numerical progress. Now we have to decide if we want to go back to that.