Bain received mostly high marks in last performance review

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By Travis Jenkins

There were areas of needed improvement listed, but for the most part, the most recent performance review of Dr. Angela Bain gave a flattering picture of her work as superintendent of Chester County Schools.

The News & Reporter obtained Bain’s performance review through a Freedom of Information Act request. The review is broken down into sections with a series of questions under each. Members of the school board either agree or disagree with the statements, providing an explanation and ways to make improvements if they disagree. Because of that, the comments tend to look more negative at times than the actual “agree,” “disagree.”

Under leadership, all seven board members agreed that Bain “communicates her vision for the district to the school board and community” and “implements policy to the school board.” On “reports to the school board about the status of programs, personnel and operations of the schools,” there were four votes for “agree” and four for “disagree.” The split was 3-4 in the other direction for “recommends actions to the school board and provides adequate information to the board to enable members to make effective decisions.” The comments (it is not indicated which board member made them) said Bain “did not provide key information before the board voted to transfer personnel and students at Great Falls Elementary” and that board members often heard about discipline and safety issues from the public instead of Bain but chalked that up to the “learning curve” of the job and noted that there had been improvement in that area. Another comment focused on the same area, noting “it appears that when information is shared with the board, decisions have already been made and at times the community knows about issues or changes before the board…it is unacceptable to be told by an outside person about a personnel change or issue at a school.” On a positive note, another comment says that Bain has been “very effective in communicating with all board members.” It said she provides the board with information in a timely manner.

Bain’s marks for communication were extremely high. The board unanimously agreed with the statement “communicates as liaison between the school board and school personnel” and only one disagreed with the statement “prepares and distributes notices and agenda of meetings of the school board.” Likewise, under the heading of “community relations,” she got unanimous “agree” votes on “articulates educational programs and needs to the community” and “responds to concerns expressed in the community.” The split was 5-2 on “demonstrates the ability to treat people with respect while listening to diverse views.” The comments obviously came from a minority of the board but offered fairly sharp criticism.

“Superintendent treat(s) people in general respectfully, but has allowed some situations to become personal, with several public officials and leaders…this could make her vulnerable to community rejection as with previous superintendent…there have been some problems with persons with different or diverse views that created much tension and animosity,” the comments said.

There were positive things noted as well. It was said she exceeded expectations by her participation in community groups and event, had built partnerships with the business community and was recognized as demonstrating true “leadership with respect and listens to diverse views openly and honestly” by that community.

In the “systems management” category, she got unanimous “agree” votes for “oversees staff personnel management,” “assigns personnel to schools and offices” and “evaluates personnel by ensuring effective and credible supervisory and evaluation procedures are established and used for all personnel.” That matched her high marks in financial management where she got “agree” votes across the board for “insures that expenditures are within the limits of approved school board,” “monitors inventory for timeliness and compliance with policies,” “establish procedures for procurement of equipment and supplies” and demonstrates effectiveness in obtaining necessary resources.” She was to be “very knowledgeable and effective in financial management that affords this district double coverage and oversight.”

“Dr. Bain has helped the district catch up with needs such as band uniforms. She has hired financial personnel who help keep the district in good financial status…from the onset of her employment (she) knew financial management was of significant concern and was able to hire a very proficient CFO with credentials and the educational background and experience,” the comments noted.

Bain received seven “agree” votes in the lone statement listed under personnel/student management for “insures that effective discipline programs are in place to enhance educational opportunities and maximize student security, health and safety.”

Final comments included a desire to have Bain present at school functions as much as at community events. One board member seems to imply another board member or board members may be overstepping their bounds with Bain.

“One of my main concerns is board members that might try to micromanage, intimidate or try to harass Dr. Bain or try to limit her ability to perform her official duties as superintendent,” the unnamed board member said. “I know that there are people contacting certain board members with petty complaints that are unrealistic expectations.”

That board member implored everyone to let Bain do her job and said she had “exemplified her ability to carry this district to the next level and the expectations for greater achievement and success for all students.” Other comments echo a desire to have Bain attend more school academic and athletic functions, but also say she has helped “mend many fences,” that she continues to improve in her areas of weakness, that she has strength in her ability to connect with district employees and that she has “tremendous communication skills.”

There is no indication when the performance review took place, but Bain responded on April 10 of this year.