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Shellinger review drags on

School board says it's still not done

By Matthew Stolle

mstolle@postbulletin.com

The Rochester School Board discussed the job performance of Superintendent Mark Shellinger during a marathon closed session Thursday.

The meeting began at 2 p.m. and adjourned at 10 p.m. with a 45-minute dinner recess. Shellinger participated in the first half of the meeting, but not the second.

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As the meeting stretched into the night, a Rochester TV station cited an unnamed district employee as saying Shellinger's job was in jeopardy.

School Board President Lori Jonason denied the report, saying the board was reviewing with Shellinger a survey of his performance. She said a report on the closed session would be made at the board's next meeting, on Feb. 19.

"We're still in the process of discussing things," said board member Kim Norton. "We haven't come to any conclusion at this point."

Though the meeting adjourned, board members indicated that evaluating Shellinger's performance and perhaps developing a professional development plan was still ongoing. Board member Breanna Bly called the meeting a "very thorough discussion."

"We haven't finished the process yet," board member Karen Hammill said.

Shellinger said through a secretary that he would not give media interviews today.

Shellinger joined the district in July. A performance review this early in his tenure has raised speculation about his job status, but board members have denied that's the purpose, saying only that it's using a different evaluation process.

State law allows boards to conduct evaluations in closed session, but it does not mandate it. A closed-door evaluation is also a departure from the Rochester school board's usual practice of having individual board members write their own evaluations, which are then consolidated into a final report. They said the new evaluation procedure required a closed session.

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The board is using a "360 (degree) feedback survey" in its evaluation. Teachers, parents, administrators and business people were all part of the process.

Board members have also said an evaluation process coming early in the superintendent's tenure would permit any mid-course corrections if any are necessary.

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