The Collier County School Board voted to extend Superintendent Kamela Patton’s contract for another year on Tuesday.
This is the fifth contract extension the board has granted to the superintendent, and extends her contract to 2021. Patton joined Collier Schools in 2011.
The board heard the presentation by Deputy Superintendent David Stump of an evaluation conducted on Patton’s performance before voting on the matter. Stump said that the superintendent scored 3.75 out of four on the evaluation, which took into account factors like fiscal responsibility, parent and community engagement, and relationship with the board.
Vice Chair Erika Donalds said that while she appreciated having the evaluation system in place she felt that too many of the categories were subjective or task based as opposed to being objectively measurable. She singled out events designed to help the district retain teachers as an example.
“I very much appreciate that these events are going on,” Donalds said. “But as a board we should not care how the retention takes place, only that it does take place. We shouldn’t be measuring how many events we have but what the actual retention is. Were the teachers retained? That’s all we care about.”
Board Member Stephanie Lucarelli agreed that objective measurements and standards are important, but said she was worried about tying too much of the superintendent’s evaluation to test scores.
“I am wholeheartedly against, with education, having things be so cut and dry,” Lucarelli said. “I’m against it for our teachers and I would be against it for our superintendent as well. Judging things solely on test scores really bothers me.”
Donalds urged the board to delay a contract extension until they had collectively had more time to learn about and discuss the agreement as it stood.
“We really need to take a look at the agreement before we extend it into the next decade without having a thorough look at what we are approving,” Donalds said.
The vote passed 3-2, with Donalds and Kelly Lichter in dissent. Donalds made similar arguments last year after a vote extended Patton’s contract through to 2020.
Lucarelli and Board Member Erick Carter echoed the concerns of many members of the public who spoke earlier in the night, fearing that Patton would be stolen away by another district if her contract was not extended.
“I know that there are other school districts in the state of Florida that would jump at the chance to steal Dr. Patton…I don’t see any reason why we [don’t] extend the contract as a thanks for an excellent job over the years,” Carter said.
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