Minneapolis schools Superintendent Ed Graff earned positive marks in his second job review as the head of the state’s third-largest school district.
Overall, Graff was lauded at Tuesday night’s school board meeting by his bosses for meeting expectations in each of his top five priority areas: literacy, equity, social and emotional learning, support services for students and accountability.
Siad Ali, chairman of the board’s superintendent evaluation committee, said he’s pleased with the work Graff has been doing as head of the district. “I’m very excited to see that a majority of my fellow board members evaluated Superintendent Graff positively,” Ali said. “This is encouraging.”
Boosting Graff’s salary was not discussed during the job review process, board members said. The superintendent, now in his third year at the helm, earns an annual base salary of $225,000 in a three-year contract that expires next year.
The Minneapolis School District has been wrestling with chronic budget shortfalls and decreasing enrollment. Minneapolis school leaders also are making a pitch to voters to pass a referendum for additional money — $18 million for operations and $12 million for technology. And Graff is now a couple of months away from signing the district’s new strategic plan.
This was the first time the nine-member Minneapolis school board graded Graff using a new system, evaluating him on his work last year to implement his priorities.
At a recent board committee meeting, board members voted to add “operations” as one of the priorities to be evaluated, but they agreed not to measure his performance in that area using the same numbers-rating system they used for the other areas.
Board Member Nelson Inz, who had voted against the proposal, said it was unfair to assess Graff on operations, especially when he wasn’t informed about it ahead of time. “It seems like a setup almost for me,” Inz said. “We don’t want to just set the superintendent up so that we could take shots at him publicly.”
While most of the feedback was positive, his bosses pointed out that he still has some work to do in areas, including transportation and financial operations.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and business leaders have praised Graff for being out front on social and economic issues.
In other board news, leaders of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers blasted the district for the ongoing shortage of workers such as school bus drivers and cafeteria staff. They rallied before the board, demanding higher wages and respect from the district, in line with school workers from around the nation who are also pushing for higher wages. School districts across the state are wrestling with acute worker shortages, a situation brought on by the tight labor market and a historically low unemployment rate.
In a statement, Shaun Laden, president of the educational support professionals chapter of the Minneapolis teachers’ union, said: “By allowing positions to go unfilled, the district is undermining students’ access to a quality education.”
He added that the union members “will continue to fight for fair wages and working conditions until their demands are met.”
The district and the union have been in negotiations since April.