Superintendent Search

The whole Executive Committee meeting today was about the superintendent search and nothing else.
In addition to the regular members of the committee, Michael DeBell, Kay Smith-Blum, and Betty Patu, the meeting was joined by Marty McLaren and Sharon Peaslee in person and Harium Martin-Morris by phone from Olympia. Sherry Carr was the only board member who could not be in attendance.

In addition to the Board, also present at the meeting were District General Counsel Ron English, the board staff, Brian Rosenthal of the Seattle Times, Cecilia McCormick, and I. Mr. Brewster of Crosscut did not grace us with his presence. Too bad he missed it; he could have seen how stable it was. There was a lot of strong agreement among all of the Board members and they worked very well together.

The bulk of the meeting was a conference call with the search firm. They settled on a timetable, the wording of the ad, and some details of the process - there will be five finalists. The Superintendent Search Committee consists of the seven board members and four others: one representative each from PASS, SEA, SCPTSA, and the central administration. Consultants from the search firm will be in Seattle in early February to conduct one-on-one interviews about what folks want in a superintendent. They will meet with each of the eleven members of the committee plus two students, two classroom teachers, the entire current superintendent's cabinet (Susan Enfield, Noel Treat, Pegi McEvoy, Bob Boesche, and Cathy Thompson), a representative from local 609, and a representative from the Special Education PTA. That's twenty-one interviews which is plenty. I really like this list. Neither Melissa Westbrook nor I should be included and neither should Lynne Varner or Sara Morris. We all had the opportunity to provide our input through the survey.

The search firm, by the way, is taking some guidance from the survey. They are also very aware of the level of involvement the community takes in our public schools.

I know that some folks are concerned that we're a bit late in the race and that all of the good superintendents will be gone by the time we get there. Don't worry. Our ad will go into the edition of Ed Week that comes out just before the big National School District Superintendent's Conference. In addition, the search firm will have an ad in the conference guide inviting folks to contact them at the conference if they are interested in any of the different districts they are working with, including Seattle. We're right on time and moving fast.


Thanks for this, Charlie.

I wrote to the Board, urging them to work as Board and to work collaboratively towards compromise and consensus.

I had also urged a couple of Board members to go it alone on the search or with a very narrow group. I'm glad to see they did.

This all sounds very orderly and doable.

Bravo to the Board.
David said…
Thanks, Charlie, good to hear it. Any word on whether the search will encourage (and perhaps even favor) local candidates?
Charlie Mas said…
David, thank you for asking.

There will be a page on the district web site with information about the search. The web page will have a timetable and other information. It will also include an email address for the consultants where folks can send suggestions, such as potential candidates.
mirmac1 said…
The firm is Hazard, Young & Attea Associates. They've completed some searches in WA. Take a look here to see who they have placed. I see it includes the current Supt in Bellevue (who is a former consultant).
Anonymous said…
Too bad the directors didn't even give a little lip service to the furlough. It's been really tough on teachers that people don't seem very aware of why it happened.

Of course it would also be nice if the board asked the teachers what is needed in a superintendent. It would be like hiring a head of a hospital without ever talking to the nurses, doctors, aids, social workers, etc.

mirmac1 said…

I urge you to do your own surveymonkey if that's what it takes. The district website is to have a link to HYA to offer references, comments etc.
Anonymous said…
When is SPS going to get it through their heads that putting a PTA rep on a selection committee of any kind is not the same as involving the community at large.

I'd rather see anyone OTHER than a PTA rep beginning with how entrenched the leadership is with central administration and ending with the fact that most schools in Seattle have middling PTA participation. Many don't have one at all.

Let the public apply for a spot, have a lottery. Point a finger at someone who has signed in at a board meeting. Pick a name from the list of SPS parents. Just don't give me the same tired hierarchy of PTA board names. Is there anyone in the group that isn't Caucasian and living in the north end of the city? Cmon district. At least attempt true community representation.

dw said…
What exactly is the role of the Search Committee, and how were the add'l 4 members chosen? Are the 4 extras there just to advise the board?

At the end of the day, it is just the 7 seated Board members that have the final say, right??
seattle citizen said…
Here is the Times' Brian Rosenthal's article in this morning's paper about debate on the school board about DeBell's proposed "anti-micromanaging" policy and the superintendent search:

Proposal spurs emotional debate over Seattle School Board power
Anonymous said…
Ouch on the PTSA jab.

But I don't disagree. DeBell loves the PTSA. That's because it is made up of people who look and think like Queen Anne-ites. (Not a knock on Queen Anne - just a comfort zone thing in style.)

Problem is most of this district does not live on QA. PTSA has no cred in my circle.

Add this voice to 'the PTSA DOES NOT SPEAK for this parent'. Find a different public voice on the committee.

Josh Hayes said…
And another even-handed, excellent article by Brian Rosenthal. How long will ST management let him keep doing this, I wonder, before insisting that he toe the party line?
Carol Simmons said…
Dear District Watcher,

Thank you for your comments regarding community representation on the Search Committee. It is absolutely necessary for the health of our District that the community would be ethnically represented and also that District Watchers such as Melissa and Charlie and Dan and Don and Rita and Chris and Dora and Sahilla and Sue and Eric and Dorothy and Meg and Charles and Ricky and Paulette and Jesse and others......who are extremely informed would have a voice.

Sharon Peaslee said…
We discussed the need to include more of the community, representing diversity in its many facets. The decision to keep the committee small was reached due to the very tight time frame. It was also pointed out that we, the Board were elected to represent our constituents and need to reach out to our own communities for diverse input. Please be sure to attend the meetings of your Directors and encourage others to do so. It's not a perfect solution, but those present agreed that we can and will represent the concerns of our constituents.
Anonymous said…
Well if that's the case Sharon, then why is the PTSA on the committee. Either you are speaking for all of the public by your reasoning, and it isn't necessary, or...the usual...the white upper middle class Northeast vote gets its representation while the rest of us twiddle our thumbs.

I appreciate you had the conversation. The results are the same as always, so I remain unimpressed. Actually quite angry.

Anonymous said…
side note on Queen Anne:

It may not be racially diverse but is economiclly diverse - from $5million mansions to section 8.

Looks like them/talks like them DeBell-ites are not all there is up there. And the "other" kids are the ones in public schools.

Just saying...

Anonymous said…
I agree with the comment that the Board represents the community. Short shrift has been given to teacher representation.

Presechool,K-1, intermediate, middle school and high school all have different needs and probably different input. Why is it that the people who do the job and in the trenches are so poorly represented?

We keep talking about "reform" "deform" "hierarchical" "administrative" poor decision-making for kids, teachers and schools. And here we are, leaving out the most important piece: adequate representation by teachers. We think that two teachers - I don't know who or what population they represent - are adequate to meet the challenge to help determine qualities and to judge competencies for a school district the size and diverse as ours.

Herein lies the problem: lip service to teachers but when the rubber meets the road, business as usual.

Doesn't anybody else get it?


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