Superintendent gets thumbs up from school board on performance

Sean C. Morgan

Pointing at large increases in Sweet Home High School’s graduation rate and freshmen on track rate, the Sweet Home School Board reported a positive evaluation of Supt. Tom Yahraes this month.

The board completed an annual evaluation in an executive session, which is closed to the public, during its December board meeting, and released the results in a statement on Jan. 15.

“The board was unanimous that Supt. Yahraes meets all nine performance standards,” said Chairman Jason Redick on behalf of the School Board. “The past year has been filled with improvement, moving the district forward.”

The nine standards for evaluation are visionary leadership, policy and governance, communications and community relations, effective management, curriculum planning and development, instructional leadership, resource management, ethical leadership and labor relations.

“I appreciate the board’s respect,” Yahraes told The New Era. “We have a great partnership. They trust me to lead, set the tone, chart the course for the district. We’re on the same page with wanting to provide our students, staff and community with the very best programming and facilities possible.

“We have a can-do town. I think we’re bold in taking on multiple projects and programming simultaneously.

“We’re here for the kids and community. We’re here to help all of our kids achieve their potential. The successes and the programs are due to the current staff, which includes the classified, certified and administrative leadership as well as the board of directors.”

“In particular, the board has been impressed with Yahraes’s continued implementation of the five-year strategic plan,” Redick said. “Yahraes ensures all district operations, programming and accountability are driven by the adherence to and direction of the strategic plan.”

Among the evidence of positive outcomes for the community, Redick said, is a 13.5-percent increase in the graduation rate in 2018-19, a 10-percent increase in freshmen on track to graduate and increases in the number of students meeting standards in math and reading in the third through sixth grades.

“In addition, the board has seen greater technical and dual credit college coursework opportunities,” Redick said, and three facilities, Foster Elementary, Holley Elementary and Sweet Home Junior High, have been or are in the process of major overhauls and improvements.

“The projects have been ambitious and completed or near completion under difficult materials and contracting economic conditions without raising the tax rate for the citizens of Sweet Home or cutting the scope of the design,” Redick said.

“In fact, the district is delivering more robust facility outcomes than the initial bond expectations.”

Yahraes’ integrity is one of the biggest assets the board sees, Redick said. “He’s honest, direct, fair, timely, positive and always driven for improvement and what is right for staff, students and the community.”

The board sees that staff retention is up while turnover is down, Redick said. Recruiting, hiring and retention have been a priority.

“He has taken steps to recognize leaders within the Sweet Home School District by empowering numerous leadership teams,” Redick said.

“Lastly, it was noted and appreciated that Supt. Yahraes’s energy and enthusiasm are as strong as ever, just like the first day he was hired.”

He strives for continuous improvement and positivity, Redick said, and as he says, “We don’t get to re-do a day. Let’s make the most of every day.”