Superintendent Search

I continue to be supremely impressed by Dr. Bob Malito. When I talk to Board Members, Committee members and commutity members, I always hear good things about this man. So now I am hunting for anything negative – I am looking for that “different opinion”.

 

My challenge to the Board of Education is “If you cannot find any candidates for the position of Superintendent that impress you as much as Dr. Malito, reject them outright!“. We do not want a second-rate school Chief. We do not want someone who is “good enough”. Dr. Malito is working hard to set the standard high, why would we want someone who falls below that standard?

 

The obvious paradox, the conundrum, is what if we cannot find anyone that good? I only hope we never find ourselves in that kind of a situation. Our charge to the School Exec Connect folks must be to find us someone we want, not someone we can live with.

School Exec Connect report #1

Here is the presentation that Dr. Ed Olds and Dr. Kent Johansen provided at each session they did:

http://www.champaignschools.org/superintendent_search/Superintendent-Profile-Champaign.pdf

 

 

It is simple in a good way. And while it has a subheading of “”, the gentlemen made it quite clear that if there is something about the profile you do not agree with (whether something is missing or something should not be on the list), please let them know. In fact, that is how they kicked off the discussion time and opened the floor to everyone present. “What should be on that list?” “Do you not see something that you thought would be there?”

 

Ultimately, it will be the BOE who decides who our next Superintendent is. While the School Exec fellows are open and obviously, earnestly, sincerely seeking feedback, we should really be focusing on influencing our School Board members. Hopefully that is exactly what School Exec Connect is doing, based on our feedback. But why not, as a community member, further develop that relationship with the BOE first and foremost? 🙂 That is my challenge to you.

 

It is my opinion that the BOE, especially since Sue Grey took hold of the reigns, has been a lot more open and striving to measure the pulse of the stakeholders. They have been working hard to meet with various groups, including one-on-one meetings with just about anyone. My biggest constructive criticism at this point is a lack of “reverse feedback”, a way of telling residents and taxpayers what they have been hearing. I made this suggestion to Ms. Grey back in May and she seemed to think this was a good idea. To resolve that, I personally wish that monthly reports like the one School Exec generated would be presented to the public. Heck, even if they put that up on BoardDocs, that would be a start. *grin* And hey, for all I know, they already are. Except when I crawled through the past several Board Meeting minutes, I didn’t see anything like that. I believe some one made a similar comment at the PTA Council’s session with School Exec Connection, “all our feedback seems to disappear into a black hole”. That even might have been said by one of you readers….

Unit 4 is busy with the Superintendent search, but the RSS is silent

<drama>

I recently managed to piss off members of the Board because I, in email, made it sound like the Board was not doing anything about the Superintendent Search.

</drama>

 

So I recently was enlightened about all the work that is going on in the context of the Superintendent search. And I even found some new items online that I had not seen before. It turns out that, if you are like me and consume information online a lot, you either have to setup RSS feeds on EVERYTHING, or you really have to go scouring for it. For example, I learned that during last weeks “Media Friday” (an event where the media is invited to the Mellon Center every second Friday at 10:am, the last one being August 12th), the Board discussed the Superintendent search “at length”. I did not hear about this from any of my existing feeds (News-Gazette, Unit 4, a couple blogs here and there), so I had the opportunity to hunt down the following stories:

WICD: http://www.wicd15.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/vid_4420.shtml  (text is poorly formatted, btw)

WILL: http://will.illinois.edu/news/spotstory/unit-four-officials-say-supt.-search-process-off-to-good-start/

Apparently, the NG ran a story in the print-only edition. So I hear.

 

So, first the WICD news item. We hear that a lot is happening and that things are moving in a good direction. Great. Unfortunately, I am the kind of person that wants more details than that. 🙂 We hear that over 800 surveys have been returned. Great! I am looking forward to hearing a summary or analysis of those surveys. During the last few seconds before the video abruptly stops, the anchor says that the search firm (School Exec Connect) will be at Centennial on September 12th and the community is welcome. This is not in the printed text, and is so crammed into the last few seconds I had to replay the segment just to digest it. No time is given.

 

The WILL article not only mentions the Centennial forum but spends a few words on it as well. “In the evening”. The WILL article also mentions “Champaign-Urbana Days over the weekend in Douglass Park” – I would like to learn more about this (feeling really clueless now *grin*).

 

The Board has elaborated a little on what else they have been doing.

  • The September forum is apparently in coordination with the Junior League
  • A letter from the Search firm will go out soon(tm) to school parents
  • Small focus groups are being organized
  • Community Interview Committee will be announced soon(tm)

 

So my goal in making this particular post is to simply pass along information that I found. I still wish Unit 4 would put this stuff on their own website, and I am really puzzled why they don’t. In fact, they only thing they do have is this little dinky “Search Page“, which is obviously outdated even now.

 

I have followed up with WILL and asked about how to get a feed on specific Story Categories, since I have no desire to RSS the entire site looking for interesting stories. Going to pursue similar things with WICD and WCIA, but that might be a bit more difficult. If you already know how to do this, please let me know! 🙂

 

*UPDATE*: Mr. Lockman just informed me that the September 12th Community Forum is at 7:pm.

 

 

Superintendent search

A lot has been going on in Unit 4 – this post will only scratch the surface. As many of you know, the BOE decided to go with School Exec Connect* for about $19,000. There is a lot of talk about collecting input from the community, as well as shaping a potential candidate’s profile based on feedback from the staff and Administration – I truly hope the Board follows-through on this. I have met with Sue Grey and I believe she is passionate about making that a reality. To that end, the Board has made public a PDF survey that you can print, fill out and send back to the Mellon Center. This is a preliminary survey that will (allegedly, hopefully) be followed by a more official survey from School Exec Connect. Nonetheless, I would encourage you to provide feedback to the BOE. I have strongly urged Ms. Grey to return the favor by posting “reverse feedback”, a summary of what the Board hears from the community and the staff. In fact, just today I asked for a current snapshot, not only of what they have heard, but what their own opinions are. I am hoping to get a response soon.

Why is this a big deal? This is a bonus opportunity for the school district in my opinion. Ms. Grey has made it clear that they want to hear from the community, and she is pursuing ways to make that happen. The Superintendent search will be an awesome test of that desire. So that is the first prize. The second is that with new leadership in administration, the school district can start progressing in a totally different direction. It is my sincere hope that with the two of these new golden opportunities, we can start the process of cementing the ties between the community and the school district.

So the big question remains, “What do you want in a superintendent?”

The school district has started a page for the search process, so far outlining the basic steps that need to happen and links to the aforementioned survey and an application to be on the search committee. I find it exciting that there is so much emphasis on soliciting community input, and like a little boy in a candy store, I have big eyes. I hope I am not being naive. It is a little disconcerting that there has not been much information put out about such community feedback collection efforts – all we have so far is a simply PDF that disappears into a black box. Ms. Grey assures me that they are indeed planning forums. Soon, hopefully. 🙂

On the outline, Section 2, Stage 1, Step 5 states “Develop job description incorporating community feedback”. To figure out what we as a community want in a Superintendent, and to set realistic expectations based on previous job descriptions, here is a link to the official section of the BOE Policies:

http://policy.microscribepub.com/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=308707222&depth=2&infobase=champaign.nfo&record={428}&softpage=PL_frame

The language is a little vague and sometimes troubled with legalese, but if I had to boil it down, it would be something like “The School Chief and the Administrative team will conduct, direct, evaluate, make recommendations, research, develop and ultimately bear the ‘responsibility to account for success or failure of all phases of the educational program’.”

Section 315.01 also states “that the Superintendent be of good character and of unquestionable morals and integrity.” How do you take a candidate from a “national” search firm and judge whether or not they have “unquestionable morals”?

Anyway, I digress. This is our opportunity, let’s take advantage of it!

* I took a look at the School Exec Connect and Harvard, Young and Assoc websites; the latter seems much more mature and polished, while the former comes across as more personal – however, just about all the personnel pages are 404 Not Found errors. 😦  School Exec Connect also has a list of completed searches, and they have covered a good number of schools in Illinois. I encourage you to find a school district and ask around. 🙂

 

Update: June 8th WCIA Anne Dill interview with Sue Grey

http://illinoishomepage.net/fulltext/?nxd_id=257647

Annoying sirens in the background. 🙂  Sue Grey does a great job inviting the community and emphasizing how much they want input. Looking forward to hear more information about those forums.