LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio earned high praise in his first evaluation as head of Kentucky's largest school district.

The Jefferson County Board of Education released its critique of Pollio's job performance during Tuesday's school board meeting, giving him an overall evaluation of "accomplished." That's a step below the highest assessment he could have attained, which is "exemplary."

The school board said it is "extremely confident" in the first-year superintendent's leadership. The evaluation covered his time as acting superintendent -- Pollio took over after former Superintendent Donna Hargens resigned the post July 1 and was named her permanent replacement Feb. 11 -- through June 26.

"He has greatly improved internal culture and has harnessed support for public education during a divisive and turbulent political climate," the board wrote in its overall assessment of Pollio's job performance.

"He has shown leadership in addressing transition readiness and continues to work diligently with the Board to implement our strategic vision to increase student learning and improve JCPS. He is a strategic, visionary, passionate, and committed leader who inspires confidence in the district."

Pollio, who makes $276,000 per year as superintendent, earned an "exemplary" mark in cultural leadership, with the board noting his focus on improving the district's culture, developing a racial equity policy, meeting with JCPS supporters and detractors alike and communicating with district staff and the community as a whole.

The board found him "accomplished" in strategic leadership, instructional leadership, collaborative leadership and influential leadership and "developing" in human resource leadership and managerial leadership. He did not receive the lowest assessment, "growth required" in his evaluation.

Pollio told WDRB News after Tuesday's meeting that he was pleased with the board's vote of confidence in his first year as JCPS superintendent.

Still, moving into his second year, Pollio said there are "significant challenges" facing the district.

Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis has recommended JCPS be placed under state management after a 14-month audit of the district, a decision the school board is appealing in a hearing before the Kentucky Board of Education. The school board would be stripped of its voting authority and remain in an advisory role, but Pollio would stay on to handle day-to-day operations of the district under Lewis's proposal.

"My job is to not stop the work that we're doing while things are going on around us but instead continue to move forward, so we have clearly identified major things that we want to do around our transition continuum -- the backpack of success skills and racial equity policy and facilities plan, alternative schools realignment," he said.

"All of those things are huge things, so without a doubt it is getting those things up and running and moving and bringing recommendations before this board and seeing progress, most importantly in our students and our schools."

Pollio said he completed a self-assessment as part of the evaluation process and said he hoped to improve human relations, particularly recruiting a diverse pool of candidates for vacancies and boosting support and training of principals.

"There's a lot to do in HR, and I clearly saw that one," he said. "We also discussed managerial leadership. The first year was a learning process for me in many ways around budget and many different items when it comes to managing a large district, so I feel much better positioned than I was a year ago to go into year two."

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and kwheatley@wdrb.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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