Members of the ‘Joint’ school committees met on December 12 to finalize the criteria and qualifications for the school districts’ next superintendent by reviewing the results of an online survey with Jim Hardy, field director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC).
Hardy delved into the results of an online survey that yielded 450 responses from school staff, students, town officials, residents, and an “other” subgroup, which revealed a consistent repetition of the characteristics respondents would prefer in a new superintendent.
“Financial management” topped the list for the question asking respondents what they believe are the five most significant current and future issues the new superintendent will face, except for the “other” group, which identified financial management as its second priority after “educational leadership skills.”
In descending order, respondents picked communication with parents/community, curriculum development and instruction, educational leadership skills, and facilities management /building construction as the other four top-five significant issues the next superintendent will face.
Respondents again chose financial management as their pick for the important issue the new superintendent will face, followed by staff diversity, building an administrative team, strong communication skills, and engaging students and families.
“You’ll see the same thing over and over again,” said Hardy. “There’s a theme that every single group identified… as key criteria as you move through the survey.”
Hardy also held focus group sessions with staff that identified knowledge of the budget-building development process as a priority, along with the ability to effectively and credibly describe the details of a budget in a public forum.
“It’s not an indication that’s not currently being done now,” said Hardy. “It’s just simply [something] we want to see going forward…”
Experience within a regional school district would be an asset; however, not a disqualifier.
“That would be something that would move someone from this pile to that pile,” said Hardy.
Classroom teaching experience is another preference for the focus group, as well as administrative experience, preferably as a superintendent or assistant superintendent, or at least some experience in a central office environment.
A superintendent that is an excellent communicator is a must, with the ability to engage the community and participate in community and school events. Furthermore, focus group participants want to see a superintendent engage in “more interaction with the towns,” and not just those in town government.
“One person made a comment that the only time you hear from schools is when they need money,” said Hardy.
Hardy read a statement the focus group submitted, saying it summed up their thoughts perfectly:
“The superintendent needs to be a visionary leader who will motivate the teachers and staff, provide a direction for the school… [and] develop a relationship with the leaders of all three towns. The superintendent should be able to tackle the specific needs of a regional school system and all phases of budgeting, student learning, and educational practices.”
Hardy told the school committee members, “So, that’s kind of like the target if you could draft a superintendent that’s what you would be looking for… based off of this feedback.”
A 15-member search committee will be formed consisting of staff, school committee members, town officials, and parents to review resumes, hold preliminary interviews, and propose no fewer than three but no more than five finalists for the joint school committees to interview in public.
The superintendent job was posted the following day on December 13.
The next regularly scheduled joint meeting of Superintendency Union #55 and the Old Rochester Regional School Committee is scheduled for March 5 at 6:30 pm in the junior high school media room.
Joint meeting of Superintendency Union #55 and the Old Rochester Regional School Committee
By Jean Perry