The evaluation process, which took place during June and July, graded Hunt across six criteria: -Academic performance -Budgeting -Teacher development -Employee morale -Communication inside and outside the school district and the building program.
Board members add Hunt’s strongest area was with the school district facilities program. Board members touted Hunt’s hire of Bob Folkman, who has been the director of the facilities program since July 2009.
At the outset of the program, the building program fell behind schedule and was over-budget. However, since Hunt and Folkman took over, the program has been on budget and on schedule.
“Upon assuming the Superintendent’s office in June 2009, the building program was perhaps Dr. Hunt’s greatest challenge,” said Jim Shelton, Chairman of the Facilities Committee. “Dr. Hunt recognized Mr. Folkman’s ability, and allowed Bob to manage the program without interference. Two years later, the results speak for themselves. Our building program is on schedule with a cost variance of only 1.1 percent.”
This upcoming school year the new Pickens High, Liberty High, Career Center, Chastain Road and Dacusville Elementary schools will open, with the new Easley High to follow in January of 2012.
Hunt also was given high grades on academic performance by the board, with one caveat. Pickens County school district students who took the ACT scored the highest of any district in the state the past two years, while those taking the SAT scored the third highest in the state for the past two years as well. Daniel High had the highest ACT and SAT scores for traditional high schools in the state last year. The on-time graduation rate, however, fell from 72.6 percent to 71.2 percent.
“Based on Dr. Hunt’s efforts, our district has had improvements two years in a row,” said Dr. Herbert Cooper, the Clemson trustee. “Brenda Turner was in charge of this area, and Dr. Hunt supported her and her decisions to achieve good results for our district.”
“Now the focus needs to be the bottom 1/3 of students as the graduation rate is not improving, with 1,500 students in 9th grade four years ago and only 1,050 making it to 12th grade on time,” said Alex Saitta, chairman of the school board.
The upcoming budget year posed a challenge for the district and the board because $5.3 million in federal stimulus money was cut from the budget. Overall the process had input from a variety of sources including teachers, principals and parents.
“Dr. Hunt played a pivotal role in bringing all sides together and bringing about a successful budget process,” Saitta said.
Hunt plans on retiring in June of 2012, so the board will begin to look for his predecessor later in the year. Board members have said they will consider external as well as internal candidates with a focus on the latter.