Wednesday evening, moments after Superintendent James Williams announced he will retire in a year, board member Chris Jacobs handed me a copy of the board's evaluation of Williams.
What he handed me was a one-page summary. You can check it out yourself: here's the link to it.
Strangely, this was the very thing Jacobs had promised me -- twice in the past week or two -- that he would not hand out.
Because I had called Bob Freeman, who's in charge of the state's Committee on Open Government, to ask exactly which parts of the evaluation the public is entitled to get. And he told me that the public is entitled to something far more detailed than anything the district has ever released before.
Here's how the superintendent's evaluation works: Each board member gets to rate the superintendent on 55 separate items, each on a scale of 1 to 5. You can check it out yourself. Download a copy of the full list of items the superintendent is evaluated on.
Freeman says the public should be able to get copies of the averaged score for each of those 55 items.
"Opinions expressed in numeric data are public," Freeman said.
That's what I told to Jacobs -- twice. And both times, Jacobs assured me that, as the board member who oversaw the evaluation process, he would make sure the district released the full extent of what the public is entitled to.
You see, in past years, all the district released was a one-page summary, listing six categories and the superintendent's score for each category.
But Jacobs assured me that this year, the public would get the full evaluation.
So imagine my surprise when, on Wednesday evening, Jacobs handed me a one-page summary.
When I pointed out that he had promised the full, itemized evalution results, he told me: "I misunderstood what you were asking for."
It seems that maybe the public would want to know the superintendent's average score on, say, "Provides leadership, inspiring others to attain the highest of professional standards" versus "Is customarily suitably well groomed" (which are both actual items on the evaluation).
I've already filed a Freedom of Information Law request for a copy of the superintendent's evaluation. We'll see whether the district's legal team is able to comply with state law any better than Jacobs did.
(For the record: I have FOILed for that in other local districts before, and have been provided with a full breakdown of the superintendent's evaluation. Off the top of my head, one district that has provided me with such a detailed document is Ken-Ton, back when Steve Achramovitch was about to move along to Greece.)
So you know what wasn't given out Wednesday night.
Now it's time to find out what was given out.
Because Williams will stay in Buffalo through June 2012, taxpayers will underwrite 70 percent of the cost of his health insurance premiums -- for the rest of his life.
Per his contract, once he stayed in Buffalo for five years, he was entitled to having taxpayers underwrite 50 percent of the cost of his post-retirement health insurance.
For every year he stayed in Buffalo past the initial five, the district covers an additional 10 percent of his post-retirement health premiums.
So now that he's staying through June 2012, that means he will spend seven years in Buffalo, which equals 70 percent of his health premiums, for life.
Not a bad deal for the guy who frequently complains about how retiree health costs are strangling the district.
- Mary Pasciak