The School Reform Commission released the results of Superintendent William Hite’s performance evaluation for the 2015-16 school year, and they seem to like how he is doing.
“The 2015-16 school year saw tremendous uncertainty due to a nine-month budget stalemate. Under Dr. Hite’s leadership, the School District of Philadelphia not only weathered the budget storm but came out in a stronger position,” said Joyce Wilkerson, chair of the SRC and its newest member.
The evaluation was broken down into six categories: student growth and achievement, systems leadership, district operations and financial management, communication and community relations, human resources management, and professionalism. Performance in each category could be judged distinguished, proficient, needs improvement, or failing.
Hite was rated as "proficient" in most categories, except district operations and financial management, where he was marked as "distinguished." In a statement, Wilkerson praised Hite for his five-year, $440 million investment plan and his handling of the District’s substitute teacher crisis, which has apparently stabilized after a disastrous 2015-16, the first year of outsourcing the service of finding substitutes.
In September 2015, under Source4Teachers, the fill rate for substitute teachers was 17 percent. It peaked at 49 percent, later in the school year. This school year, under Kelly Services, that percentage climbed to close to 70 percent, a significant improvement. Kelly is paying the subs a significantly higher daily rate.
“I look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Hite and the SRC on moving forward on his vision to create great schools close to where children live,” added Wilkerson in a statement.
The lowest rating that Hite received was in human resources management, where the SRC decided he “needs improvement” when it comes to incorporating “best practices for human resource management and oversight, coordinating staffing, recruitment, and other human resource functions within the District.” In addition to the roller-coaster substitute situation, there has been considerable turnover in the District's top-level management over the last two years. And it has been four years since the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has had a contract or a raise, with relations between the District and union apparently at an all-time low.
Despite this, the SRC seems pleased with Hite’s achievements.
“We remain grateful to Dr. Hite for his strong leadership and his commitment to create great schools close to where children live,” the evaluation said.
In 2016, the SRC extended Hite's original contract through 2022, but it amended the performance compensation provision. His current salary will remain the same, at $300,000, and will only increase, at the same percentage, when teachers get a raise.
Hite issued a statement saying: “I have been proud to foster a culture of feedback and accountability in the School District of Philadelphia since I became Superintendent. Within this culture it is important that I am accountable as well."
He said that the District is "stronger today than it was one year ago, and in a more stable financial position."
Ironically, one of the reasons it is on a more stable financial footing is due to the substitute crisis. The District saved money when Source4Teachers could not fulfill the terms of its contract. There have also been savings in personnel costs due to the PFT stalemate.
Hite concluded: "We still have work to do to fulfill our mission of creating great schools close to where children live.”