O'Shields given contract extension, raise following evaluation

Following a formal evaluation of his performance as superintendent of Laurens School District 56, the board has extended Superintendent Dr. David O’Shields’ contract for another year – through June 30, 2019 – and given him a 2% raise, retroactive to July 1. Board Chairman Jim Barton said the raise is the same amount given all District 56 teachers with more than 22 years experience. In a letter to the superintendent, which was released to the media Monday, Barton said, “We believe this action is an appropriate expression of the Board's gratitude for the leadership you are providing and a strong statement our confidence in your ability to continue your efforts to take this school system to the next level in academic achievement. “The Board also asked that you update as appropriate your goals for the 2016-17 school year and provide a copy to us at our next meeting for consideration. We anticipate that next year’s evaluation will be based on a mixture of academic achievement targets and these other intangible goals discussed in this letter.” Six of the seven board members met Nov. 1 to review and discuss O’Shields’ job performance and progress toward the goals approved by the Board this past winter. All seven members reviewed documentation the superintendent gave them related to his progress toward identified goals. Following the discussion in executive session on Nov. 1, Barton said, the board authorized the letter to summarize the board’s conclusions and to provide guidance to the superintendent. “The Board members unanimously concur that the District is fortunate to have you as our educational leader. We look forward to the demonstrated and committed leadership you will continue to provide the District in the coming years,” the chairman said in the letter to O’Shields. “I am pleased to report that the Board remains satisfied with your performance during the past year as our educational leader. The Board believes that you made good progress toward your goals, which focused on implementing the Board’s vision, academic achievement, personnel management, fiscal responsibility, policy development and superintendent-Board relations,” Barton said. “The Board believes that you continue to be a visible and positive presence in the community, are dedicated to our students and this school system, and exhibit a depth of knowledge of instructional issues. Although student achievement increased in many areas, other areas, particularly including history at the high school, deserve a renewal of efforts to ensure better achievement. The Board also believes that efforts need to be made at all levels to teach students ‘soft skills’ in order to be successful in life. “The Board is confident that you will maintain your focus on this important priority of student learning and success, which is the reason our school system exists. We aspire to be a Top 10 school system in South Carolina,” the evaluation letter said. The board told the superintendent that during the 2016-17 school year, it will be important for him to work with his administration to ensure that expectations and rules for District 56 employees are consistent and consistently enforced systemwide. “The Board also believes that focusing on developing the leadership potential of your administration will be beneficial for all aspects of the District’s operations; the leaders in each of our schools need to be focused on common academic goals while at the same time taking steps to positively motivate their employees and students,” Barton said in the letter. “Additionally, please continue to keep all Board members apprised, in a timely manner, of critical information regarding the operation of our schools so that we can ensure we all are ‘on the same page’ when speaking with employees and members of the community. “Finally, the Board would like for you to study and analyze our needs for alternative education programs, as well as review our career options. We believe it is important for you to consider these programs and present ideas to the Board for consideration prior to the budgeting process for the next school year.” Barton said O’Shields will be given the chance to respond in writing to the evaluation if he wants to.

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