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Survey lists the desired values in next South Washington schools chief

  • Article by: DAAREL BURNETTE II
  • Star Tribune
  • March 15, 2012 - 12:02 AM

The South Washington School District community wants its next superintendent to be an honest, trustworthy and transparent leader who holds staff accountable and rebuilds community support.

Those were the findings of a survey of residents, administrators, teachers, staff and students conducted by School Exec Connect consultants, who are tasked with helping the board find its next superintendent by July 1.

At its December's meeting, the board voted 5-2 to give notice to Superintendent Mark Porter, who worked in the district for 30 years before being hired as superintendent in 2009, that his tenure would end on June 30. Board members cited ineffective relationships with his staff and poor communication and leadership skills in approving the dismissal.

On May 1, School Exec Connect will present to the board five or six candidates who fit the district's profile.

The board is expected to interview those candidates on May 5 and announce two or three finalists that evening.

From May 8-10, the finalists will visit with district officials, the community and the board.

The board is expected to pick the next superintendent by May 10 and have a contract signed with the candidate by May 24.

The new superintendent will be expected to start on July 1.

To create the profile of the next superintendent, the firm surveyed nearly 300 people online and conducted several small discussion groups.

Those surveyed and interviewed said the district has dedicated and highly competent staff, high student achievement and sound fiscal management.

But they cited a lack of trust in administration and large class sizes as the district's greatest challenges.

Those surveyed said they want the next superintendent to maintain small class sizes, improve student achievement and build back trust with the community.

On an online forum, several people said the district should keep the current superintendent and raised concerns about the school board's transparency.

Others said the district should work to strengthen its Spanish immersion and special education programs and continue to work to close the achievement gap between white and minority students.

"This district has a history of strong leadership," one person commented. "I would support the decision to hire a superintendent who is strong, self-assured and makes decisions that are for the students without trying to be a people-pleaser to the staff. Integrity and confidence are the two attributes I see as the most important."

To see the entire new superintendent profile, visit www.startribune.com/a1101.

Daarel Burnette II • 651-925-5032 Twitter: @DaarelStrib

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