Traverse City Record-Eagle

December 11, 2013

TCAPS board praises Cousins

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Area Public Schools Board of Education approved a largely positive evaluation of the district’s superintendent.

The written evaluation, compiled by board President Kelly Hall, credits TCAPS Superintendent Stephen Cousins with excellent “leadership and overall performance during 2013.”

“This was a very favorable evaluation, and I think it reflects the work you’ve done for the district,” school board member Marjorie Rich said during a meeting Monday before members unanimously approved the evaluation.

The evaluation pointed to a few areas where board members expect Cousins to improve his management, most notably student achievement and staff morale.

He’s tasked with further improving student math achievement and the “success/failure rates” at the TCAPS’ high schools, the evaluation states.

Board member Scott Hardy said TCAPS, like many public school districts, is having difficulty improving the bottom 30 percent of its student population to prevent high school dropout and failure rates.

“It’s that group that is struggling and needs more attention that we don’t want to forget about and put a renewed emphasis on them,” Hardy said.

Erik Falconer, the board’s treasurer, said board members hope a pending proposal to move from a trimester schedule at the high schools to a quarters schedule will boost passing rates and ACT scores.

Cousins’ evaluation also called for improvement to staff “engagement and morale.”

“There is certainly acrimony right now between staff and administration and probably the board,” Hardy said. “A lot of that is attributable to the fact that we are in contract negotiations and there is a lot of posturing going on.”

But Hardy said staff morale is about more than contract negotiations. TCAPS leaders want to get staff more involved in district-wide decisions, Hardy said, also citing the possible move to a high school quarters schedule as an example.

“We’re trying to get the staff actively involved in that process so it doesn’t seem we are just dictating from a board level,” he said.

Cousins said he and other district officials will improve in those areas over the next year.

“It’ll take a team effort, but we’ll do it,” he said.

Cousins earns about $166,000 a year in base salary and $234,000 in total compensation, district documents show.

Cousins will not get a raise despite the positive review, Hall said.