St. Paul schools superintendent gets high marks but board wants progress on equity, enrollment, student achievement

The St. Paul school board gave Superintendent Joe Gothard high marks on his annual performance evaluation in a year that has brought a teacher strike and an ongoing pandemic that claimed the life of a board member.

“Board members especially appreciate his leadership during unprecedented and heartbreaking events, challenges and opportunities in our community,” Jeanelle Foster said Tuesday night, reading from a prepared statement,

“They also acknowledge the continuing work in increasing student achievement outcomes, as well as student enrollment,” she added.

Enrollment and math and reading test scores have continued to fall since Gothard took the job in 2017.

Joe Gothard (Courtesy of St. Paul Public Schools)

On his job review, Gothard earned 3s and 4s on a 4-point scale on various standards within community relations, operations and teaching and learning.

The board, however, wants more concrete progress on improving equity in the district, giving Gothard scores ranging from 2 to 4.

“Progress feels slow in this important work,” said Foster, who became board chairwoman following the June death of Marny Xiong.

The board said Gothard personally is an effective communicator but said the district as a whole could improve in that area.

They praised him for guiding the district through the pandemic by developing a plan for remote instruction while delivering more than 8 million meals to students.

And they’ve been pleased with new systems and processes he’s put in place since the district spent far more than expected on numerous school construction projects.

Gothard in November agreed to a three-year contract extension that raised his salary by $8,000 to $240,000 for each of the next three years. That would have been the second-highest salary in the state for a superintendent in 2018-19, the most recent year that data is available.


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