BANGS — The Bangs Independent School District Board of Trustees voted 4-3 Monday night against extending Superintendent James Hartman’s contract one year beyond its current expiration date of June 30, 2009.
The evening began with Hartman requesting his performance evaluation be held outside of executive session.
“I feel like the community needs to be fully informed on how the board members truly feel about their superintendent,” Hartman explained. “I knew potentially negative things could be said about me and the job that I have done.”
Despite negative comments by “individual board members,” Hartman said he was happy overall with his evaluation. “Taken as a whole, it was a positive evaluation. Fifty-six of 63 indicators were ‘meets or exceeds expectation.’”
Board President Larry Lehman, who voted against a contract extension, said the action was based on Hartman’s evaluation.
“He scored low in some areas and the majority of the board decided not to extend his contract,” Lehman said.
Others voting with Lehman were Gary Hamrick, Jimmy Conner and Jerry Roberts. Phone calls to those who voted against the contract extension were not returned Tuesday.
Trustees voting for the contract extension were Brad Davis, Lyndyl Tidwell and Fern Sheppard.
Sheppard said allowing Hartman to leave is a loss to the community.
“I consider him the CEO of our school,” she said. “He has done a great job, especially with managing our money. I think this will be a great loss.”
Sheppard suggested that Hartman’s contract extension had more to do with personality than job performance. “I think personality conflicts got in the way,” she said. “I don’t think things like that should be brought into the school board. We should be united.”
Davis and Tidwell could not be reached by phone Tuesday, either.
Hartman said he was not surprised by the board’s decision.
“I felt there was a group of folks who were philosophically opposed to a three-year contract,” which he said he became aware of after a conversation with Lehman.
“Mr. Lehman told me he felt the superintendent contracts should be in two-year increments,” Hartman said. “That is the way the contracts for principals and the assistant superintendent are structured.”
Providing rebuttals for one of the complaints, Hartman said he did not want people to confuse his professionalism with arrogance.
“Some people have this perception that I am arrogant or do not want to interact with the community,” he said. “As superintendent, I do not seek out personal ties, because I don’t want to give the appearance of showing favor to one group or another. I try to treat everyone the same. I enjoy living and operating in a community.”
Hartman said although he will have to seek other opportunities at some point, he is proud of what has been achieved since he took the position in 2003, including the new construction projects financed by a bond issue approved by voters in May 2006.
“I would like to see that project come to fruition,” he said. “Aside from that, we are doing well in all areas. I am proud of where we are at now. Things may not be perfect with 1,150 kids — but it is good.”
Hartman said he told the board seated when he interviewed for the position in 2003, “that I would give everything I had as long as my visions and my beliefs are also those of the board, and if that were to ever change, it would be time for me to find a location that shares my visions and beliefs.”
Explaining his ideal working conditions, Hartman said, “I want to operate in a setting where I am given the latitude to run the district as charged to me by the Texas Education Agency,” he said. “The board can then judge me by my work performance and results.”
Several sitting in the audience during the meeting spoke on Hartman’s behalf before trustees considered a decision.
“I was humbled by the support shown,” Hartman said. “It was truly humbling to hear someone say how a difference has been made in the community or in a child’s life.”
While under his current contract, Hartman said he has explained to the board if an opportunity were to arise to relocate, he would check it out.
“From time to time, opportunities present themselves. If it is a good move professionally and a good fit for my family, I would have to consider it,” he said.