Board, others give new superintendent rave reviews for first 90 days

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comOctober 13, 2013 

Jeffrey Moss officially started as superintendent of the Beaufort County School District on July 1 and has completed his first 90 days on the job. In that time, many parents, teachers and district officials have said they've been impressed with how quickly "the new guy" has jumped in.

"He's gotten here and had a pretty remarkable schedule in the first 90 days," said school board chairman Bill Evans, who has worked closely with Moss as he gets acclimated. "He has been all over the county now and to all the schools and has met with students, staff and parents."

At the board's Oct. 1 meeting, Moss presented the results of his "90-Day Entry Plan" that he put together soon after accepting the job in February.

The plan is a list of 37 goals covering what he thought to be five key areas: forging an effective board and superintendent partnership, increasing student academic performance, raising staff morale, improving district support operations and providing staff development.

Moss, who completed the self-evaluation of goals that he crafted, said he has completed 73 percent of them, and the other 27 percent are in progress.

"I think it was an ambitious list," Evans said. "I'm not concerned about the parts he said he hasn't quite completed yet because, frankly, it's his list and not something we gave to him."

The board completes its first evaluation of the superintendent at six months -- which will be in January -- and then will have annual reviews after that.

Attempts Friday to talk with Moss about his first 90 days were unsuccessful.

His to-do list was provided to district and school staff before he started. This let them know what Moss had in store during his transition period, Bluffton High School principal Mark Dievendorf said.

Just how important are those first 90 days?

"The adage that you never get a second chance at a first impression, I think, bodes well when looking at the importance of hitting the ground running with a plan," Dievendorf said. "The plan communicates areas of priority and identifies those areas where he wanted to gain immediate perspective."

Dievendorf said his students and staff appreciate Moss' accessibility and availability -- a sentiment echoed at other schools.

"We needed a superintendent who understood what was going on in the district and listened to the teachers' and parents' needs," said Scott Shipsey, a teacher at Lady's Island Middle School who also is the School Improvement Council chairman at Beaufort High School. "At this particular point, what we've asked for in a new superintendent -- he's delivered."

One of those needs was addressing overcrowding in Bluffton-area schools, a long-standing problem before Moss came on board.

Within his first 90 days, Moss put together five proposals, which he trickled out over a month. The board ultimately voted to build two schools in greater Bluffton.

Shipsey, who has also worked with Moss on the Strategic Planning Committee for the district's five-year plan, said Moss has made those big decisions by observing the district before acting.

When Moss was selected for the job, he began working with acting superintendent Jackie Rosswurm almost immediately to acquaint himself with the district. She said he has done an "excellent" job.

"Certainly this first period of time is critical," said Rosswurm, who along with several other district officials, recommended that the board hire Gloria J. Davis of Decatur, Ill., who ultimately was passed over. "He went into it with his eyes wide open and trying to understand the structure of everything, the folks involved and see where the strengths were and where the challenges might lie."

Evans, Dievendorf and Shipsey all said they haven't heard any negative reviews so far.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how Dr. Moss progresses along the next 90 days," Shipsey said.


Document: Beaufort County School District Superintendent Jeffrey Moss 90-Day Review

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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