TAMPA — It's time to hold the superintendent accountable.
The Hillsborough County School Board is evaluating MaryEllen Elia, who assumed the district's top job in 2005 and earned national acclaim.
Education reformers have praised Elia's collaborative relationship with the teachers' union and the district's Empowering Effective Teachers program, which gave Hillsborough a head start on the statewide move to teacher accountability.
"I applaud your energy and your willingness to create a culture of boldness in seeking new ways to make our district innovative, responsive and a leader in school reform," wrote chairwoman Doretha Edgecomb.
Others were less effusive.
Susan Valdes, who clashed with Elia many times in recent months, gave her mostly 2s and 3s on a scale of 5.
"The school district culture has shifted to a tone of leading by intimidation," she wrote.
Valdes asked that career-training programs be expanded and that the administration reflect a greater understanding of multicultural and ethnic differences in its work force.
Stacy White questioned the success of the district's advanced placement program, which, under Elia, has been encouraged for a wider population of students.
"Our percentage of students scoring a 3 or higher on AP exams continues to be well below the national average," he wrote. "Perhaps too many of our students are directed to AP courses."
During a board discussion, White said he was concerned about incentives the superintendent might receive for enrolling students in the program. Elia is paid $263,131 a year. The board decided to schedule future workshops on Elia's evaluation and the AP program.
Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.