12-29-2016 Hartford Public Schools Super is really super; Sacks the SAC; Honors decade of service;

Hartford Public Schools Super is really super; Sacks the SAC; Honors decade of service

By Jon Bisnett

The Hartford School Board wrapped up the calendar year 2106 with the December 15 meeting giving high marks for Superintendent Andy Hubbard annual review, approved the move to a new athletic conference and recognized board member Bill Najacht’s decade of service at his final meeting.

Superintendent evaluation

Board President Ben Chambers reported that the annual evaluation of Superintendent Andy Hubbard had been conducted at the prior work study meeting. The evaluation process is conducted in closed session with input from all board members and is then scored on a majority basis.  Chambers revealed that Hubbard scored within .001% of the “Highly Effective” rating while commending his performance in the past year. Ginny Wesaw Rice was absent on the evening but had forwarded an email to the board reinforcing the positive opinion on Hubbard and urging fellow board members to formally endorse the evaluation process. A unanimous vote followed supporting the annual evaluation process. Hubbard first took the chair in fall of 2013.

Despite the board’s pleasure in Hubbard’s work, no contract extension or compensation adjustment as would typically follow a positive superintendent review was offered. President Chambers did state in a post meeting interview that Hubbard’s compensation would be a priority for review when the board reconvenes after the New Year.

From SAC to Southwest 10

The board was tasked with a decision to move from the current Southwestern Athletic Conference to the new Southwest 10. Information in support of the change had been presented at the prior work study. Factors that played in the proposed change included the SW10 member schools were also rural with more similar demographics, enrollment and socio-economics as Hartford.

(Readers should be reminded that the Hartford board voted against the SAC expansion that occurred 2 years ago with a variety of concerns, but were overruled by a majority vote of the SAC and obliged to go along with the decision at the time.)

After brief discussion a unanimous approval to change conferences to the SW10 for the 2017 school year followed.

Superintendent Hubbard commented that he was pleased with decision saying “It just makes good sense on several levels. We’ll be playing schools that are much more like ourselves. Average travel distances are within a mile of the SAC schools. And most importantly that all SW10 member schools will have a ‘voice’ at the table among a group of like-minded athletic directors as opposed to what amounts to ‘alliances’ within the expanded SAC. It’s no wonder member schools have already found a nickname for the SW10 calling it the Common Sense Conference.”

(Readers should also be reminded that Hubbard is well versed in athletics as he first came to Hartford as athletic director and had also been Head Football Coach in his prior position at Cassopolis).

The schools of the new Southwest 10 Conference are: Bangor, Bloomingdale, Cassopolis, Centerville, Decatur, Eau Claire, Hartford, Marcellus, Mendon & White Pigeon.

Athletic Director Nick Blackmer added “I think there is a big misconception out there that we (Hartford), wanted or were asked to leave the SAC. In fact Hartford was the 10th and final school invited to the SW10 table.

“The SAC is a great conference for some. However, the new SW10 is a far better fit for all our sports programs. The schools in the new conference are much closer in enrollment, even more similar community demographics.  The one complaint I’ve heard about the move is that we won’t have the Watervliet football rivalry. I do agree. But let it be known that I voted ‘No’ on the 2017 SAC Football Schedule in which we were not scheduled to play Watervliet. In fact 25% of the SAC ADs opposed the schedule. The SW10 on the other hand voted unanimously for their new fall schedule.”

AD Blackmer concluded his thoughts by saying, “I am totally confident the move is in the best interest for the Hartford fans, student athletes and administration.”