published Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Cleveland, Tenn., school chief gets extension

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    Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of Cleveland City Schools

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Cleveland City Schools system will retain its current director, Dr. Martin Ringstaff, for four more years.

Earlier this week, the Cleveland City School Board of Education voted 7-0 to approve a new contract with Ringstaff that begins July 1 and ends on June 30, 2017.

The agreement's compensation package includes an annual salary of $130,754.

Ringstaff began as schools director in Cleveland on July 1, 2011.

"I think Dr. Ringstaff hit the ground running," board Vice Chairman Steve Morgan said. "We got what we thought we were getting, plus some."

"It is hard to find good school superintendents," board member Dawn Robinson said. "They don't grow on trees."

Before the vote on the new agreement with Ringstaff, board members discussed recent one-on-one evaluations given to him. On a scale of 1 to 5, his overall scores measured 4.85, an increase on last year's overall score of 4.78.

Board members said they felt the one-one-one nature of the performance appraisal process was helpful in generating open-ended discussions on ideas and plans for the school system's future.

Ringstaff was evaluated on multiple criteria, including his vision of learning, development of school culture and instructional programming, operational management, fairness and relations with the board, student families and the community.

He characterized his success with Cleveland City Schools as a team effort, stating that a number of changes he has made relied on the strengths of people already serving the system.

"This is not a one-man show by any stretch of the imagination," Ringstaff said. "[The faculty and staff] make me look good ... however, it's them doing all the hard work."

Board members praised the director's energy, enthusiasm and his ability to engage teachers, the community and city leaders on the needs of Cleveland City Schools.

Communication is a key factor in addressing the challenges faced by the school system, especially in keeping morale high and responding to growing student enrollment, Ringstaff said.

Cleveland City Schools has added 400 students in the past two years, growing from 4,780 students to 5,200.

"I like the problem -- it's an interesting one to deal with," Ringstaff said.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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