Performance Review And Porter Decision

Last month after I came back from a three-week trip to China, I was surprised to read in Woodbury Bulletin that South Washington County School Board didn’t renew Superintendent Mark Porter’s contract that will expire in June 2012.

No detailed explanation about the decision. I was curious and wondered why.

A few weeks passed, still not much detailed information was made public by the school board. But there were numerous letters from readers who questioned the school board decision and showed support for Mark Porter and his leadership.

I don’t know Mark Porter personally and don’t know anything about him and his leadership ability. I only saw him at school events. The most recent one was on Nov. 2, 2011 when he and his wife (who teaches at Lake Middle School) attended a joint band concert at Woodbury High School. I appreciated his support for the concert and for the band students/teachers through his appearance.

Imagine how many school events like this he attends every year as the superintendent, it’s quite a commitment and effort on his part.

From what I read and heard, our school district has been doing well under Porter’s leadership. At least I haven’t heard anything bad.

The one thing that bothered me the most about this decision was the school board failed to do the annual performance review with Porter as they should have.

If Superintendent Porter had not performed well in the last three years, the school board should have provided feedback through the annual performance review and given him a chance for improvement. They should not surprise him with the decision to not renew his contract without ongoing dialogue and feedback.

The school board should not surprise the public with the decision and not offer any reasonable explanation.

I liked school board member Jim Gelbmann’s Jan. 11 viewpoint article in Woodbury Bulletin: “School Board can, should reconsider Porter decision.” He was one of the two school board members who opposed the decision.

Like the Dec. 21 Woodbury Bulletin editorial says: “School Board owes public explanation for Porter decision.”

The school board needs to be more transparant in what they do in order to gain the trust from the public.

Trust is a sacred commodity. Once lost, it’s hard to regain it. Trust can only be built through openness and transparency.