Tony Ball and Lesley Bollendorf

Talladega City Schools Superintendent Tony Ball (left) and Chief Schools Financial Officer Lesley Bollendorf

TALLADEGA -- Talladega City Schools Superintendent Tony Ball and Chief Schools Financial Officer Lesley Bollendorf both ended their first year of service in the system with outstanding evaluations, according to Frank Costanzo of the Alabama Association of School Boards.

“I am just a consultant here. I have nothing to do with the evaluations themselves,” Costanzo said.

The evaluations were based on assessments submitted by the board members and, in Ball’s case, the principals and Central Office administrators who chose to participate. In Bollendorf’s case, the evaluations came from the board members, Ball and by her peers within the system.

Ball’s average rating from the five board members was 4.1 out of a possible five. His average would have been higher, but one board member consistently graded him lower than the other four. The principals and administrators average rating came to a 4.0.

Bollendorf’s average rating from the board was 4.2, again with the same member grading her lower than the others, although not as much lower as in Ball’s case.

Ball’s rating of Bollendorf was 4.8, and her peers gave her an average rating of 4.2.

Although all of the assessments came from local officials and employees, the scores were submitted to and handled by AASB.

In both evaluations, the board members were assigned random numbers that do not correspond with their district numbers. The numbers were different for Ball’s and Bollendorf’s assessments

Ball was evaluated by the board members as CEO for the system, educational leadership of schools, personnel management, community relations, management of pupil personnel services, communication and interpersonal skills, professional development and leadership, technology management, facilities management and financial management.

The overall scores in each of these categories were based on the averages of several subcategories. His highest overall ratings by the board members were in technology and facilities management, both at 4.3. The lowest rankings overall were in community relations and communication and interpersonal skills, at 3.9.

Two of the board members gave Ball perfect 5s in each category. A third member did not score him below 4.5, and a fourth gave him all scores between 3.5 and 4.3.

The fifth board member, however, gave scores of 1.0 to 1.8 in all but three categories, where the scores were 3.0 (technology), 2.3 (facilities) and 2.0 (financial management).

This board member also left two rankings blank.

Under “facilities management,” this member did not score Ball on “monitors construction, renovation and/or demolition of facilities,” and under financial management, this member did not record a score for “ensure expenditures are within limits approved by the board.”

Rather than counting these as zeros, however, Costanzo said AASB calculated the score based on an average of four ratings instead of five.

The direct report scores -- from the principals and Central Office staff who report directly to the superintendent -- were not broken down by individual. The scores listed in the report, which cover different questions than the board’s report, only included averages. Costanzo said these scores were submitted by eight individuals.

Ball’s highest score in this section was 4.5, on knowledge of laws and policies governing the schools and the system. He earned a 4.4 on keeping the employees informed about system matters pertinent to themselves, and 4.3s for conflict resolution, identifying and solving problems, establishing effective interpersonal relationships, working to ensure school atmosphere is conducive to student learning, actively supporting and promoting innovation and effective representation of the system at school and community events.

His lowest scores, 3.4, were in using information about student performance to improve systemwide curriculum and instruction, taking an active role in improving curriculum and instruction and establishing routines and procedures that contribute to teaching and learning.

The next steps, according to the last page of the report, are to “continue ongoing dialog with the superintendent to ensure he and the board remain on the same page” and “mutually determine goals for the superintendent’s performance in the coming year.”

Said Costanzo, a former longtime superintendent, “I would have loved to have gotten evaluation numbers that high this soon.”

The board rated Bollendorf on preparing and presenting an annual budget in accordance with state law, providing required monthly financial statements, providing required monthly report of receipts and expenditures, providing required monthly review of budget versus actual expenditures and keeping the board abreast of significant economic developments.

Her average score was 4.4 in all categories except the last one, where she scored a 3.8.

Again, two board members gave her perfect scores across the board, and one gave her four 5s and one 4. A fourth gave her four 4s and a 3, and the fifth gave four 3s and a 2.

Ball rated Bollendorf’s performance across a total of 43 categories, awarding perfect 5s in 30 of them. He scored her at 4 in all of the remaining categories.

The peer review averages were based on scores from eight people. Again, the individual scores were not listed, only the averages were included.

Her highest score in this section was 4.6 for “keeps me informed about matters pertinent to me.” The lowest, 3.9, was for “I am given the opportunity for input on system financial matters affecting me.”

The other questions in this section were maintains open, two-way communication with administrators in matters involving finance (4.4), actively involves department heads in development of annual budgets and budget amendments (4.1) and works with system department heads and administrators in a professional manner (4.1).

The next step, according to the final report, is to “continue ongoing dialog with the CSFO to ensure she, the superintendent and the board remain on the same page.”

Constanzo said her overall assessment was “also excellent,” adding that several of the categories under the board’s rating are required by state law.

Ball thanked everyone who participated in the evaluations, saying he was “here to work,” and that he valued the feedback from his employees and the board members.

Bollendorf was present for the meeting but did not comment.

The board members did not comment on the report during the course of the meeting.

Board member Shirley Simmons-Sims was absent Tuesday night but did participate in the assessment, Costanzo said.

Further coverage of Tuesday’s meeting will appear in an upcoming edition of The Daily Home.