Some local school board members took pot shots at the newly released State Board of Education perception study Friday, but in general they appeared ready to support the state board in implementing the study's recommendations.
The state board met with the executive committee of the Utah School Boards Association and discussed the report and other items. The $26,000 study was commissioned by the board through Hendrix Information Group, a Los Angeles consultant.The local board members were most concerned with how the 45 individuals were selected for interviews that formed the basis for the study's conclusions. The report, released Thursday evening, looks at relationships among state board members, its chief executive and staff, and at their relationships with local education leaders. The report is critical of many of those relationships and makes recommendations for improvement.
"Obviously, what you heard was determined by who you talked to," said Celia Archibald, Ogden, president of the local boards association. She said local education leaders had expected to be approached to suggest who should be interviewed as their representatives, but that didn't happen.
To have one state office staff member make the selection of those to be interviewed "leaves a gap," she said. The selection was delegated to Scott Cameron of the state office staff.
State Board President Ruth Hardy Funk said the board was not in any way involved with the selection of those interviewed and that she will try to get answers to Archibald's questions. She said she was under the impression that local organizations had been contacted to recommend individuals for interviews.
Archibald suggested an "exit interview" process as a follow-up to the study to assure the validity of the overall report.
Though Archibald and other local board members raised several questions related to the study, the general mood of the local representatives appeared to be one of "let's get on with it."
"I admire you for going forth with the report," said Richard London, a member of the Morgan District Board.
The local leaders wanted assurance, however, that the state board is serious about implementing the study's suggestions. State board members said they are unanimously committed to working out the poor relationships that are the substance of the report.
"Fifty percent of the recommendations have already been started," Funk said.
State Board Member M. Richard Maxfield objected to the description of the Hendrix report as an "image study," a term used by many newspeople.
The sole purpose of the study was to position the state board to help local boards to implement the Shift in Focus, a new direction in education the state has proposed, he said.
State Board Member Jay Leichty also defended the motives of the study. He said perceptions about the board are faulty and that the board "is in pretty good shape and making good progress in leading the state to a revolution in education that will become a beacon light to the country."
Linda N. Campbell said the recommendations of the Hendrix study could be useful to local boards as well as to the state board.