Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Berkeley County School District Superintendent Rodney Thompson received an “Excellent” rating from his school board, a one-year contract extension and a four-percent pay increase after his annual public job evaluation during BCSD’s monthly board meeting on Tuesday, May 14.
The meeting was held at Berkeley Intermediate School in Moncks Corner.
Seven board members gave Thompson an excellent rating; there was one rating of “satisfactory” from board member Phillip Obie and one “unsatisfactory” rating from board member Scott Marino.
“Excellent, excellent!” District 7 board member Wilhelmina Moore said to open her evaluation remarks. “I’m so happy for him, and he’s done an excellent job in meeting the needs of all our children.”
Thompson thanked the board for the vote of confidence and said it is all about supporting the county’s staff and teachers working together for the children of Berkeley County.
“Any success we have is because of the district’s staff and employees, and this evaluation is your evaluation,” he said. “As long as we continue to put the children first we will succeed as a district.”
Outgoing board chairman Doug Cooper said Berkeley County has thrived under Thompson’s leadership. “Under Rodney Thompson’s leadership we have made outstanding progress, especially in academics,” Cooper said. “We are growing in academics and we keep improving.”
Obie commended Thompson’s work over the past year on improving the county’s overall graduation rate to 74.4 percent. “Communication has improved between the superintendent and school board,” Obie said. “I give a ‘satisfactory’ rating pending the outcome of the current investigation.”
Shannon Lee gave Thompson an “excellent” rating saying, “The district is continuing to move in the right direction with students as our focus.”
New school board chairman Kent Murray said Thompson made “one heck of a superintendent.” “This has been a banner year for the Berkeley County School District and I have goose bumps with the show of support I have seen here tonight,” Murray said of the standing room only crowd in attendance.
Board member Sheldon Etheridge was impressed with Thompson’s sense of modesty.
“The thing that impressed me overall, above all the successes Berkeley County has attained, these are student successes,” he said. “Dr. Thompson never once has taken credit for that. He credits the teachers, the tech department, and the maintenance workers throughout the district. He gives credit where credit is due.”
Frank Wright has served under many superintendents during his 15 years on the school board and said Thompson ranks at the head of the class.
“I was told whenever you evaluate your superintendent you are also evaluating your board,” Wright said. “I have served on the board for 15 years and served under many superintendents and they all have been great, but Dr. Thompson does not come second to any of them.”
The lone voice of dissent among the board came from District 8 board member Scott Marino who gave Thompson a “highly unsatisfactory” evaluation.
Marino, who is also the brother-in-law of attorney Josh Whitley who is spearheading the claims of ethics violations by district employees during BCSD’s Yes 4 Schools $198 million bond referendum, said Thompson failed in many areas.
“The superintendent has failed to communicate with me on several aspects,” Marino said. “He also allowed me to be excluded in executive sessions. We are now paying for three criminal attorneys, which are being paid for with tax dollars. This is embarrassing. I do not have any confidence in the superintendent’s fiscal management ability and will work in my years of service on the board as a watchdog.”
When the board approved a four-percent pay raise and a one-year contract extension, Marino objected. “I don’t think we should extend his contract given the ongoing investigation … I think we would be sending the wrong message,” he said.
The motion passed by a 7-2 vote with Etheridge and Marino voting against.
After the evaluation, Thompson said he appreciated the feedback.
“I appreciate the kind words and the words were taken to heart where suggestions were made for improvement,” he said. “We will continue to move forward to make this district the best we possibly can. I will say that all nine board members, when we put the children first, we can work through any issues that we have.”