Progress report on superintendent

At its meeting Wednesday, the school board has scheduled a performance review of Superintendent Arturo Flores. We aren't in a position to comment on every aspect of his job, but we do offer these thoughts:

It is too early to judge whether Flores is living up to the expectations that board, the staff and the community had when he was hired. While he has shown some positives, there are some negatives as well. And the jury is still out on some changes he has made.

He has assumed a relatively high profile in the community, and he's working closely with the Stanislaus County Office of Education on key strategies. Those are good things.

It's not clear yet whether his major administrative reorganization has been effective in improving schools and student success, but it's likely contributed to the complaints from teachers and classified employees that the district is top heavy. The management is organized into three academic learning communities, each with an associate superintendent and various directors below.

The district has started some innovative programs to reach struggling students, including an intensive reading program and another that uses computer instruction to help students catch up on graduation requirements. An effort to help immigrant students learn English more quickly is due to begin in the fall.

There are serious morale problems, including at the district office. And there are concerns and criticisms about Flores' time away from the district and unnecessary or unwise spending.

A quarterly newsletter, the Modesto City Schools Missive, is intended to keep parents, staff and the community informed of district activities. The idea is good, but Flores' column, a feature in each issue, is notably weak, uninspiring and poorly written. Any educator -- and especially the leader of a major school district -- should be able to write effectively.

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