Rochester schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas met with school board members last night to discuss his evaluation.
The seven-member board’s chief responsibility is to hire and supervise the superintendent. But board members’ evaluation of Vargas is also a review of their own skills as a publicly elected body. And their participation in and influence on the superintendent's decision can’t be minimized.
The board will likely commend Vargas on his communications efforts and accessibility. No superintendent in recent memory has been so available to parents, teachers, students, and community members. Between his public appearances and his monthly Coffee and Conversation open-mic sessions, this superintendent isn’t hard to find.
And Vargas should be credited with confronting long-ignored problems like truancy and reading proficiency. He’s also forged a functional relationship with Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association, as well as Mayor Tom Richards.
But the modernization plan, which involves shrinking the district’s footprint and closing some city schools, is just one of several major issues that will require the board and the superintendent to work with more synergy than in the past.
Jolting the district out of its status as the lowest performing of the Big Five districts and implementing rigorous teacher evaluations are equally pressing concerns.
A lot is at stake. Too often the decisions made by superintendents, with the board’s acquiescence, have been unproductive and even counterproductive. Reconfiguring city schools from K to 6 to K to 8 is arguably a good example.