The Richmond Register

March 28, 2014

Board hires architect for new central office

Gets update on new educator evaluation system

By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — What was originally planned as a Madison County School Board work session turned into a special-called meeting Thursday when a few actions items were added to the agenda.

The board voted to hire the architectural firm of Sherman, Carter, Barnhart to design and oversee renovation of the building at 301 Highland Lakes, which the board purchased this month to be the district’s new central office.

Although the Lexington firm of Clotfelter-Samokar has been managing construction projects for the district since 2000, Superintendent Elmer Thomas said at January’s board meeting that other architects would be considered for future projects. During that meeting, board member Mary Renfro opposed hiring Clotfelter-Samokar for the renovation of three elementary schools this summer.

Sherman, Carter, Barnhart was hired Thursday for the “fairly small job” of renovating the new central office “to give us the opportunity to try out somebody else,” said board chair Mona Isaacs.

The superintendent agreed the project will be “a good trial for another architect.”

District offices now scattered in several places will be moved to the 22,000-square-foot Highland Lakes property, so the project will involve building walls and doors to create offices, installing carpet and painting. The architects also are expected to plan and develop a board meeting room, the superintendent said.

Thomas envisions the space to have expandable doors, so it can turn into a small- or large-room training center.

Otherwise, the building’s restrooms, HVAC system, entry ways and elevator are all in good shape, he said.

The board issued a request for professional services and received portfolios from six firms, Thomas said. After speaking with former and current superintendents who have worked with the various firms and considering the location and accessibility of the architects, the board decided on Sherman, Carter, Barnhart, which has an office in Lexington.

This architectural team has worked on 11 other districts’ central offices in the past, Thomas said.

“This is an opportunity for someone to prove what they are capable of doing,” he said, pointing out that next on the list for school renovations is Silver Creek Elementary and Foley Middle schools, after White Hall, Daniel Boone and Kit Carson elementary schools, which are scheduled to begin this summer.


Professional Growth Effectiveness System (PGES)

Board members were updated on new evaluation procedures for educators through the Professional Growth Effectiveness System.

PGES is one layer of the state’s school accountability and assessment system, Unbridled Learning.

According to the state department of education, the vision for PGES is to have “every student taught by an effective teacher and every school led by an effective principal. The goal is to create a fair and equitable system to measure teacher and leader effectiveness and act as a catalyst for professional growth.”

To implement this system, Kentucky adopted the “Framework for Teaching,” based on the work of teaching effectiveness expert Charlotte Danielson. It looks at indicators of effective teaching in planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction, professional responsibilities and student growth, according to KDE’s website.

Under the new system, which has been piloted in schools since 2012-13 school year, both tenured and nontenured teachers will be evaluated differently. The program will be fully implemented in 2015.

Currently, tenured teachers undergo a formal evaluation every three years, with perhaps one informal observation during that time, Thomas said. Under the new system, tenured teachers would have one formal observation, two mini observations and a peer observation every three years.

Previously, nontenured teachers have had two formal observations annually but now will be required to have two formal observations, one mini observation and one peer observation each year.

Evaluations for principals and superintendents also will be phased in.

Thomas is participating in the pilot superintendent evaluation program.

The old superintendent evaluation system was very “subjective,” Isaacs said. Each board member was required to fill out a form, rank the superintendent on a scale in different areas, and send the forms to the district’s attorney who then created a summary for the record.

Under the new system, Thomas must record evidence of his effectiveness in eight categories: strategic leadership, instructional leadership, cultural leadership, human resource leadership, managerial leadership, external development leadership, micropolitical leadership and dispositions — the human elements of being a superintendent.

For example, he said, evidence of his strategic leadership could be found in the formation of the district’s mathematics task force, a team of teachers representing every grade level and every school to develop a systemwide approach to teaching math. Thomas proposed the idea during his first day in office.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.