In her second full year as superintendent of the Madison School District, Jennifer Cheatham retains strong support from the School Board, exceeding its expectations in four of six categories, according to a performance evaluation released Wednesday.
Cheatham is a “strong leader” who brings “a unique skill set” to the job, said the board, which singled out her development and execution of a long-term vision for the district as among her strengths.
While student data are overall encouraging and moving in the right direction, much work remains, the board said.
“We look forward to larger gains in the future based on the foundation that is being laid,” it said.
This was the second annual evaluation by board members, who completed work on it during a closed session Monday night. The district released a copy of the board’s three-page evaluation Wednesday.
Cheatham’s job review is a collaborative effort by the seven board members, who speak in one voice in the document, said board President James Howard. All seven signed the document.
Cheatham was hired in spring 2013. The newest evaluation retains much of the effusiveness of the board’s first review, in which she also exceeded expectations in four of six categories.
This year, she exceeded expectations in her relations with the board, her management of the district’s budget and operations, her management of the district’s talent pool, and her relations with the community and schools. She “met expectations” in instructional leadership and in the district’s organizational climate and culture.
According to the board, highlights this past year included passage of a $41 million referendum in April; a smooth and transparent budget process that was “the best most board members have experienced”; increased diversity and quality of central office leadership staff; and strong community support for the district.
The board identified numerous areas where it said it hopes to see growth. Those include strides in hiring a more diverse school-based staff; more grassroots community engagement; more clarity in advance on what items require a board vote; more focus on students with disabilities; more open communication between schools and the administration; and better planning, implementation and response to major changes.
In the latter category, the board mentioned the district’s behavior education plan as an example of an initiative where the implementation could have gone smoother.
“Overall, you have exceeded our expectations,” the board wrote. “You are a strong leader that brings a unique skill set, understanding that long-term systemic change requires strong support for our staff and their engagement in the change process. We want to thank you for your leadership.”
There will be no changes to Cheatham’s pay or benefits associated with the evaluation, according to district spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson. Cheatham’s current contract runs through June 30, 2017, and her current salary is $237,350.
In a statement, Cheatham thanked board members for their support and feedback.
“We are making great strides in our district,” she said, “and I look forward to working with them to continue to bring our vision to life.”