Monday, January 01, 2007

Advice for Superintendent Search

According to an article in the PI last week (Seattle schools told to pay next chief more), the search consultants, Ray & Associates, provided the following advice on the superintendent search:
If Seattle Public Schools wants to attract top-notch candidates to become the district's next superintendent, it will need to pay a higher salary, rethink how it gathers public response and keep the names of candidates under wraps until late in the process.

Sounds like good advice. But, here's what worries me. The principal search director also said that "The most important part of the process is creating a "profile" of exactly what kind of person the district wants to have in the superintendent role." In a district without strong current leadership and no clearly articulated vision for the future, how is that profile going to be created? Is the Board working on this profile independently? Does Carla Santorno and other district staff have a voice in it?

Public input is being collected, so share your thoughts via e-mail or at the meetings mentioned below.
The consultants intend to hold a series of community meetings Jan. 16-18 to gather input on characteristics they'd like to see in the next superintendent. The board has not yet decided when or if it will hold more public meetings after that.

4 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Here's the profile I would like to see:

Communicator - This means listening as well as speaking.

Reformer - We need someone who will cure this dysfunctional culture.

Evangelist for public education - We need someone who can get people excited about a Vision and bring them on board because we really do need their buy-in and support.

Competent administrator and executive - We need someone who will actually do the work.

I don't think it's crtical that we have an educator, although it would be nice.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I actually just wrote to Gary Ray, the lead for the search firm, to give him some thoughts and background. I don't expect him to reply but I echoed many of Charlie's views (except the reformer and evangelist which are both absolutely on target). I told him we are a process-driven town and that if the firm wants to have limited public input, fine, but it needs to be authentic and not just a facilitated meeting. I would expect to see what comes out of these meetings to be reflected in the candidates they bring forth.

I also urged them to Google candidates themselves and not bring forth people who have had multiple problems in multiple districts. If there's a pattern of problems, we don't need that person. I also warned them off any candidate that would come in to agitate for charters. We have been down that road and to have someone come in and waste time working on a non-issue seems counterproductive.

Brita said...

Through the search firm, the Seattle School Board is gathering input from various stakeholder groups and the general public about the characteristics/qualifications of the next Superintendent. Based on this report, and our own judgment, the board will decide on a profile that will be used in recruiting candidates.

This process is being managed by our executive committee and their meetings are open to the public.

Selecting and overseeing a Superintendent is one of the most important duties of any elected school board and something we all take very seriously.

Hope this clarifies the process.

Input can be emailed to superintendentsearch@seattleschools.org or call the board office at 206-252-0040.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brita, for checking sites such as this one and facilitating public contact with the Board. It would be very easy to sit back and ignore public comment on blogs.

Our Board has an extremely difficult job. It raises my confidence to see your response. Seattle can be a fractious political community, for all that the winds blow in the same general direction (left-ish), and I hope that whomever is chosen to fill the Superintendent role, we all resist the impulse to naysay, withholding comment long enough give her or him a chance to initiate change. I wish the executive committee and Ray and Associates a smooth and productive search process.