Truesdale gets passing grade from school board

The Beaufort County Board of Education voted 10-1 to extend superintendent Valerie Truesdale's contract an additional year, until June 2014, after her annual performance evaluation Tuesday.

After a closed session, chairman Fred Washington Jr. read a prepared statement on her performance during the 2009-10 school year, her third with the district.

"The board is extremely satisfied with the instructional leadership and general management skills that our superintendent has demonstrated," Washington said.

Board member Michael Rivers voted against extending Truesdale's contract and declined comment on his vote.

Washington said there was no pay raise affiliated with the evaluation, but Truesdale would be eligible for incremental pay increases given to certified employees for additional years of experience. Her annual salary is about $205,000.

Truesdale was evaluated in six areas -- academic achievement, financial management, facilities management, community relations, board relations and human resources. Criteria included 30 academic goals, many that assess the district's progress toward closing the gap between its average scores on state-required tests and state averages.

"In academics, Dr. Truesdale is the first to say, that after three years, 'We are not where we need to be,' " Washington said. "The Board of Education agrees with her statement."

However, he said improvement is evident since Truesdale joined the district in 2007. The district has surpassed state averages on 12 of the 30 measures and improved from last year on 26, he said.

Washington said the district only met state averages on one of 24 measures in 2007.

"With her focus on higher expectations for our students and professional training of our teachers and staff over the past three years, the board expects major academic improvements this year," he said.

Washington said Truesdale met 97 percent of the board's goals for management of the district. He commended her financial and human-resources management, as well as for opening six new schools since July 2009.

The operational goal Truesdale did not meet involved providing a detailed plan describing both the existing and planned technical education curricula at all five high schools, Washington said. He said she has committed to substantial improvement of technical education curricula.

Truesdale thanked the board and said the district would not be able to accomplish improvement without the help of senior leadership, teachers, other staff and students "who are working very hard to meet your high expectations."