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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Superintendent Selection Process

Yesterday was the application deadline for the Seattle Schools superintendent position.

The rest of the selection and hiring timeline is as follows:

March 13, 2007 - All application materials due to Ray & Associates.

March 27, 2007 - Executive Session regarding Personnel; the board reviews applications.

TBD - Executive Session regarding Personnel; the board interviews candidates.

TBD - Finalist(s) announced; optional on-site visits with leading candidate(s).

TBD - Offer of contract and press release regarding the new superintendent.

It is the Board’s goal to have a new superintendent hired by the end of April.

I'm glad the Board is keeping the recruitment process quieter this time. I don't believe it's possible to do a good job of recruiting a superintendent in a fish bowl with everyone watching and commenting from the outside looking in.

However, I sure am curious about the quantity and quality of applications received. I continue to be skeptical about the ability of the Board to hire a high quality superintendent, but I'd love to be proved wrong.

3 comments:

Brita said...

Beth,

You write, "I continue to be skeptical about the ability of the Board to hire a high quality superintendent, but I'd love to be proved wrong." I honestly don't understand what this means. You mean our board cannot attract a high quality candidate to apply? That we cannot recognize one when we see one? That we cannot figure out if their qualifications and background meet our criteria? That after meeting us, they would run in the other direction?"

The process through which we arrived at a set of criteria was inclusive, transparent, and sensible. Seattle is a wonderful place to live and work and our district is in the midst of significant change for the better.

I have every confidence that our national search is being done thoughtfully and will result in a very high quality Superintendent. As you know, our last two Superintendents were appointed without going through a search at all.

As you know, Carla Santorno came to us just last April as the result of a national search and she is terrific. Raj did an excellent job conducting that search and has also hired other significant talent into the admninistration. We are building the leadership downtown that we need.

Brita

Michael Rice said...

I have to say that I am with Ms. Bakeman on this. While I have no doubt that Ms. Butler-Wall and the rest of the Seattle School Board would recognize a top candidate if they saw one, I am highly skeptical that they will see one. While Seattle is a great place to live and in most cases work, I don't think it is really a great place to work as an educator (which I happen to be). Low pay, high stress, lack of materials and supplies, students being promoted even though they are nowhere near ready for the next level, and special interest groups that seem more interested in power than in educating children are just a few examples of why Seattle is not a really great place to be an educator.

While Ms. Butler-Wall thinks Ms. Santoro is terrific, I find that the people on the front lines of the Seattle School District are a little more guarded in their reaction to her. I’m sure all that needs to happen is for more time to pass, but right now the jury is still out.

Ms. Butler-Wall writes: I have every confidence that our national search is being done thoughtfully and will result in a very high quality Superintendent. As you know, our last two Superintendents were appointed without going through a search at all.

This makes no sense to me. Is Ms. Butler-Wall saying that she was happy with the past two Superintendents and the way they were hired? I think a large reason the district is mired in the muck right now is because of the last two Superintendents. Mr. Olchefske’s mismanagement led to a financial crisis that set the district back at least two years and Mr. Manhas was never really more than just a temporary placeholder. I hope the Directors have much higher standards for this hire and that I won’t end up reading about how a candidate for the Superintendent position ran their previous district into the ground. I especially hope that such occurrences will not be news to the Directors as it seemed that it was the last time the district went through this exercise.

Charlie Mas said...

I am optimistic about the Superintendent search. That's different from confident because I recognize that we have to rely, to some extent, on luck and timing. The right person not only has to be out there, they have to be looking to make a move like this right now.

My optimism is based in the belief that at any time there are a large number of people looking to make a move and a belief that there are a signficant number of leaders ready to break the mold on the old K-12 public education culture. The culture itself is broken, so nothing is lost in breaking it.

I am confident in the Board's ability to identify a high quality candidate and I am confident in Seattle's ability to draw recruits, both as a place to live and as a community to work within.

My greatest concern is that the profile is too narrow in that it asks for someone who
"Has demonstrated ability to improve student performance and reduce the achievement gap."
and "has a record of successfully leading a diverse, urban public school district"

I don't know how many folks have done those things. If there are urban districts which have close their academic achievement gap, I'd like to hear more about it.

In the end, we're going to have to get lucky. I'd say that we're due for some good luck.

As for Ms Santorno's performance, it is simply too early to tell. Some of her work, such as the academic milestones, I like very much. I'd like to see more detailed implementation, but her parts of it are in place. On the other hand, she appears no more interested in partnering with the community than did Mr. Wilson or Dr. Rimmer or anyone else steeped in the dysfuncional public education culture. The District cannot continue to alienate the community at every opportunity and still hope to achieve its mission.