Another year has passed, and once more Columbia County School Superintendent Tommy Price has received a passing grade from the School Board.
We know that because he still has a job. But what taxpayers dont know are any of the details of the trustees evaluation of the superintendent.
Thats because Georgia law specifically excludes evaluations of superintendents from public disclosure - keeping the information secret from the very people who pay the bills.
The law creating the loophole in the states Sunshine Laws was sponsored way back in 1985 by then-state Sen. Roy Barnes, who otherwise is regarded as a champion of access to government records. During subsequent terms in the Legislature and his one term as governor, Barnes said he favored disclosing the evaluations, but he never followed through on any changes that would have made it possible.
As a result, taxpayers around the state are kept in the dark about the performance of the top person running their school systems.
The states laws invest great power in school superintendents, while a state constitutional amendment more than a decade ago - which made all superintendents appointed rather than elected - insulates them from taxpayers.
The law requiring local school boards to conduct annual evaluations of superintendents says the results shall be confidential. With unanimous consent of trustees and Price, however, such confidentiality can be waived and the public given an opportunity to review trustees opinions of the superintendents job performance.
Weve asked trustees in years past to do just that. At the very least, Price and the five trustees should agree on a summarized - not sanitized - version of the superintendents evaluation that could be offered for public review.
After all, it wasnt so long ago that Columbia County citizens disagreed with the rest of the state and voted to continue electing their superintendents - demonstrating their desire to evaluate superintendents job performance every four years. The least the school board can do is give those same voters an opportunity for an annual review of trustees opinions.
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