I attended the first of the public input meetings last night at Peachtree Middle. While attendance was low, I feel very strongly that the attendees did a good job speaking on the concerns of parents and taxpayers in DeKalb County.
If you can't attend the meeting at Columbia tomorrow, please take a moment to fill out the survey online. It is here:
The representatives from Ray and Associates asked three questions:
1. We are a recruiting firm. Why should a candidate be interested in both this job and relocating to your community?
2. What are the qualities you are looking for in a superintendent?
3. What are the critical issues in DeKalb?
They also went over the process of hiring a superintendent.
- Board approves the criteria. It sounds like there will be a called board meeting on December 17th for this purpose.
- Ray and Associates recruit nationwide.
- Applications are accepted. A deadline is set.
- Candidates are narrowed based on criteria.
- Those candidates who best meet criteria are screened. References are checked, background checks done, etc.
- Board is given files of most likely and asked to narrow it down.
- Interviews are conducted.
- Most of the time, top several candidates are revealed and introduced to the community. This is at the Board's discretion, but I actually think it is part of the GA Sunshine law.
Ray and Associates is very aware of how easy it is for everyone to check on the candidates. They know that once names are released that not only will people be googling but also calling their Aunt's sister's boyfriend's cousin who lives in the community where the candidate is currently working.
The consultants also made it clear that this search will ultimately reflect on them and that they want it to be a successful placement. While DeKalb is a large diverse system, they gave several examples of smaller diverse systems where they have successfully recruited new superintendents. It is also interesting to me that they recruited John Covington for the Kansas City Missouri school superintendent job. This is the system that closed half of their schools when DCSS was struggling to close just a few.
Remember to do the survey if you can't attend the meeting.
The most important job for the DeKalb School Board right now is to hire a new superintendent. The Board of Education and Ray and Associates, the firm the Board has hired to lead the search, are looking for public input.
There are two public meetings scheduled.
• Peachtree Middle School at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 7, 2010
• Columbia High School at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 9, 2010
From an article about the search process in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I found this description of what Ray and Associates planned for the public meetings there.
"What we want to do is discuss the timeline for the search with the community to ask some specific questions that would help us in developing a profile for the search and then to ask you to complete a short survey," said Alvin Johnson, regional director for Ray & Associates."
In Ann Arbor at least, the survey was posted online after the meetings. I hope that it will be in DeKalb as well.
In looking at the flier that has been developed for the position in Ann Arbor, I find that these are most of the criteria that I would like to see in a new superintendent in DeKalb.
Position Profile – AAPS Superintendent
The Ann Arbor Public Schools seeks a superintendent who…
- Inspires trust, has high levels of self-confidence and optimism, and models high
- standards of integrity and personal performance.
- Possesses the leadership skills required to respond to the challenges presented
- by an ethnically and culturally diverse community.
- Possesses the ability to enhance student performance, especially in identifying
- and closing or narrowing the gaps in student achievement.
- Is a strong communicator -- speaking, listening and writing, as well as a person
- who is willing to listen to input but is a decision-maker.
- Is strongly committed to a “student first” philosophy in all decisions.
- Possesses excellent people skills and presents a positive image of the district.
- Has experience in management of district resources and knowledge of sound fiscal procedures.
- Has knowledge of emerging research and best practice in the area of curriculum/instructional design and practice.
- Has demonstrated strong leadership skills in previous positions.
- Is able to build consensus and commitment among individuals and groups with emphasis on parental involvement.
- Is able to delegate authority appropriately while maintaining accountability.
What are your priorities for a new superintendent? I would add
- Is able to recruit and retain the highest level of professions from the teacher level up.
My greatest concern about the process is that the public get to meet the final three or more candidates. This is what GA law says:
At least fourteen (14) calendar days prior the meeting at which final action or a vote is to be taken for a university president, school superintendent, or other similar executive, the public agency making such decision shall release all documents which came into its possession in connection with the three or more finalists for the position. Prior to the release of these documents, the public agency making the decision may allow a finalist to decline being considered further for the position rather than have documents pertaining to her or him released. In that event, the public agency shall release the documents of the next most qualified person under consideration who does not decline the position.When Dr. Brown was hired, this process was not followed. He did come and meet with DeKalb parents before he was officially hired, because of the 14 day rule. Another candidate, from a suburb of DC, withdrew before the finalists were announced.
I think it is important that the stakeholders be able to compare and contrast the top three or more candidates. Let us see who the Board is picking from and perhaps give some input on what we view as a candidate's strengths and weaknesses.