Byline: Laura Diamond, Times-Union staff writer
The Duval County School Board is negotiating Superintendent John Fryer's new contract, but not all board members are playing an equal role.
Chairwoman Susan Wilkinson asked the board's other three senior members -- Jimmie Johnson, Gwen Gibson and Linda Sparks -- to join her in completing an evaluation on Fryer. The three new members were not asked.
Wilkinson said she did not want to burden the new members with the task and instead encouraged them to meet individually with the superintendent, whose three-year contract expires July 31.
All seven members will vote on the new contract. That vote is scheduled for April 4.
"There is no intention to exclude them," Wilkinson said of the three new members. "I didn't want them to have the burden of evaluating a CEO they have only been working with for three months."
But at least one of the new board members, Kris Barnes, questioned Wilkinson about her decision.
"It did kind of catch me off guard," Barnes said. "I have very mixed emotions on it. I asked her if we are full members or not. She assured me that we are equal, but I explained that is not how it seems."
Barnes reminded Wilkinson that while she and Cindy Rounds are both new to the board, they both have had children in the system during Fryer's tenure.
The third new member, Martha Barrett, does not have children. Neither Barrett nor Rounds could be reached for comment. All three were elected last year.
Fryer's contract allows for an annual evaluation from the board. One was done in 1999, but not in 2000. Fryer's contract began Aug. 1, 1998.
Wilkinson said the members completing the evaluation have the option of examining Fryer's third year on the job; the second and third year; or the entire tenure.
The evaluation calls for board members to grade the superintendent on a scale of 1 to 6 in meeting a series of objectives, including providing a safer, more supportive learning environment and improving academics.
Wilkinson sent the members the evaluation form March 12 and asked them to try to complete the form by yesterday .
Gibson questioned the amount of time allotted to evaluating Fryer. She said it was presumptuous of Wilkinson to direct school system attorneys to begin negotiating a new contract for Fryer when board members had yet to decide if they wanted to renew it.
Wilkinson has been one of Fryer's most ardent supporters. …