Superintendent Candidate 4: Judy Wiegand

The Board Policies state that the Superintendent is to:

  1. Directing the day-to-day operations of the District’s schools, services, and programs.
  2. Conducting research and recommending plans for the short- and long-range goals, services, and programs of the District.
  3. Evaluating the entire District’s operations, programs, services, and personnel on a regular, scheduled basis.

And for the last time (*grin*), I am using the high bar set by Dr. Malito.

Dr. Judy Wiegand

Dr. Wiegand is in an unique position among the other candidates in that not only is she currently in the Administration, but she has been in the Champaign area with Unit 4 since 1987. On top of that, she received her Masters and Doctorate right here at the Champaign-Urbana campus of the University. I think we will all find that these facts both work against and for her. On the one hand, there is a concern that Dr. Wiegand would be susceptible to perpetuating systemic “bad habits”, a predisposed handicap to thinking out of the box. Yet on the other hand, she is intimately familiar with all the special issues surrounding our town, the challenges we have faced over the past couple of decades, and what has (or has not) worked.

I find it interesting to note that a bulk of her time prior to moving to the Mellon Center was spent at Centennial – in fact, she has accumulated 20 years at Centennial alone. Pretty impressive. I mention this because I have to believe this has had an impact on Dr. Wiegand and has helped shaped her “world view” of education at various levels.

Since she is local, I do have personal experience with Dr. Wiegand. At this point, I will point out her work to continue “Great Schools, Together” in the form of the long-term strategic plan. I have made a few notes about this before – I do not hide that I want so much more from this project, but to give credit where credit is due, I acknowledge that Dr. Wiegand has at least kept the fire alive; something is better than nothing.

Lastly, she will become the next Interim Superintendant and will have the rare opportunity to “try out” being a school chief. I do not know her strenghts in leadership. I am not sure if she can bear the weight of the heavy mantle of expectations left by Dr. Malito.

Problem is, I am not sure any of the candidates can.

If I close my eyes and pretend that Dr. Wiegand is now our Superintendent, I do not see her being as community-conscious (or at least, in a vocally, passionate manner) as Dr. Malito is. I see her being very procedural, very business-minded. Almost like the legacy of prior Superintendents. Can she change in the next few months during her new role? Probably. Most likely, yes – especially since Dr. Malito has already started to provide guidance and some level of mentoring to that affect. Is that what we want in a Superintendent?

These are only my impressions. I have had very pleasant, informal exchanges with Dr. Wiegand dealing with various issues about Administration. It is entirely possible she has excellent leadership qualities that unite her with the community in ways I have not seen. But I can only call spades when I see spades.

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