New website for Unit 4

I have been invited to beta test the new website that Unit 4 is currently polishing in anticipation for the “big reveal” in the very near future.

There are a number of goodies and characteristics that help launch the school district’s web presence into the modern times. A majority of my comments in this post are going to be positive; I have submitted constructive criticisms already and we will see what Unit 4 will do with them.

  • Search: You can now simply search for keywords without having to go to google first. Very handy! 🙂
  • More navigation options; aside from Search and a couple more menu items to navigate from, the sitemap is now located at the bottom of every single page (easy to miss if you don’t scroll down)
  • Schools are now plotted via google maps
  • New directory mechanism that provides contact information and a brief profile (including space for a picture), with its own search and filtering buttons. Also very handy.
  • RSS feed for the “News” page
  • New Calendar system – filters allow one to see individual schools in addition to the district. I have asked if has an open/public API
  • Twitter feed right on the front page

It looks and feels like a fresh website. There are still some minor things they are working out (ie, content), and I have asked questions about navigation.

Once it opens up in the near future, I would be curious to hear what you all think.

conspiracy theories and rumors

I usually try pretty hard to stay away from obvious rumors, just because I like to know the truth of a thing before I pass it off as truth to others. So in this case, I am going to play a game. In this game, I am going to make some speculations. They might not be true. You have been warned.

 

What if Dr. Wiegand was hesitant to submit her application to be Superintendent because others in the Administration would have made things more challenging than necessary? What would that look like to a casual observer? What would Unit 4 say about that?

What if certain factors changed over the course of the application period (and even beyond the deadline) such that said challenges were to …. go away. Literally.

Again, how would Unit 4 spin that? What would the Press Release say to describe those events?

What if the Culver era was more than just Mr. Culver himself? And what does the end of that era really look like? How would those that were once under Culver respond to the change in leadership at the top?

How would the Unit 4 Board publicly state that the candidates they received from School Exec Connect were absolutely disappointing?

 

I ask myself these questions. I ask in a public manner so as to start discussions. My hope is to ask these questions seriously and to look for answers. Is this truth? If it is truth, how is it communicated? If these things are true, how does one do the “eggshell dance”? (a mixed metaphor) How does one say what needs to be said in a way that benefits others?

Meet your new Superintendent

Wow, that didn’t take long:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2011-12-21/champaign-school-board-announcing-new-superintendent-today.html

 

Granted, it is only 10:08 am and the news release is slated for 2:pm. But we all know what they are going to say. This is quite shocking. Dr. Wiegand went from not submitting her application to submitting it after the deadline and flip-flopping on her decision to this. As my head is spinning, I am trying to gather my thoughts about this whole “transparency” thing. School Exec Connect said the BOE was being very transparent initially. But there are some gaping black holes, especially surrounding Dr. Wiegand’s application.

Please note that I am not saying that Dr. Wiegand is a bad choice – in fact, I would say she is the best choice out of the 4 we have (had). I just don’t like the circumstances around this whole thing.

 

UPDATES:

Questions for Dr. Darryl Taylor

  1. What did you take away from your experience with Rodney Estvan and giving your special ed kids the alternative test in 2009?
  2. Since hindsight is 20/20, what, if anything, would you have done differently since taking on the mantle of Superintendent for Lincoln ESD 156 in 2007?
  3. Please provide some examples of how you have directed day-to-day operations of the District.
  4. Under your leadership at ESD 156, what goals (short-, midterm-, longterm- ) were you immediately responsible for?
  5. Everybody makes mistakes. Please provide an example of your greatest learning moment in the past 4 years.
  6. If you were to be chosen by the Unit 4 BOE to be the next Superintendent, how do you intend to deal with reorganization in the Administrative office given that several key members of the previous Administration will have left by that time?
  7. What key challenges faced ESD 156 prior to your start as Superintendent, and how exactly did you work with the District to address those challenges?
  8. Based on whatever research you have done so far, in your opinion what are the top 2 or 3 issues facing Champaign Unit 4 today, and how do you intend to tackle them?

 

Questions for Steven Cobb?

If you have questions you would like the BOE or the Community Search Committee to ask of Steven Cobb, you might want to get them in ASAP.

 

Some questions I have:

  1. Mr. Steven Cobb has been in the Fort Wayne area since 1987 and has only recently (relatively speaking) stepped into the Assistant Superintendent role. Earlier this year he tried for the Superintendent position in Lee County. What are his motivations? Why does he want to climb to Superintendent?
  2. What about Mr. Steven Cobb makes him more attractive than, for instance, someone with a Ed.D after their name and 4 years of experience as a Superintendent?
  3. Give some examples of thinking “out of the box” in your career.

 

I would love to hear what the responses are. 🙂

 

Superintendent Candidates: overall impression so far

After reading, thinking and writing about the 4 candidates, I am left with the following.

 

  1. Disappointment that we do not have a stronger pool to choose from. I tamper that with the fact that we may yet find a gem, a diamond in the rough. I have to hope that we will. I have to hope that what little I know about the candidates (all 4 of them) is only a sign that there is more depth to them. I am told this was the case with Dr. Malito when he was hired.
  2. Not one of the candidates even mentioned the Board of Education. Did it slip past my eyes? It’s great that the candidates all see a Superintendent position as being involved in and with the community. But the fact of the matter is that the Board hires (and fires) the Superintendent, and for all practical purposes, the BOE is the middle-man between the Superintendent and the public.
  3. The late addition of Dr. Wiegand is certainly interesting. I am torn how I think about this. Is she being groomed? Was she holding back for fear of finding stronger candidates in the pool? Does it even matter what I think? (Probably not, but… this is my blog….).

 

If we look at the profile that the BOE came up with, I would venture to say that perhaps Dr. Darryl Taylor best matches the profile, with Dr. Wiegand coming in at a close second. If I look at what I want (my own profile), I am scratching my head – none meet the high standards that Dr. Malito has set. I am sorry, but I can’t get that out of my head.

 

Mr. Jamar Brown has been making it clear he wants to know about any questions that we the community have. My brain is too fried right now to further think about questions. But perhaps by sleeping on this, I’ll come up with something. 🙂

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, Read the rest of this entry »