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Board Lays Early Plan for Superintendent Search

In meeting with consultants, Fairfax County school board focuses on "two-tiered" engagement strategy to replace Superintendent Jack Dale

The Fairfax County School Board will use a "two-tiered public engagement process" to search for its next superintendent, board members said Monday during their first meeting with search consultants — a move likely to be welcomed by many residents who have said they felt "excluded" and "unheard" during the system's last search for a leader in 2004.

Many of those residents carried the issue of how the search for Superintendent Jack Dale was conducted into last fall's school board elections; when asked on the campaign trail, several members now on the board said they would make the upcoming search and selection process more open and inclusive.

Though the board's consultants, Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates led that search for Dale about eight years ago, the new search will look a bit different, with opportunity for online comments and a series of meetings with individuals and groups next month before two community meetings in January, board member Patty Reed (Providence) said in an email to Patch.

"The process has only just begun," she wrote.

Monday's meeting between the board and Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates broke the process into four phrases: the "planning phrase," "recruitment phase," "interview phase" and "appointment phase.

The planning phase starts now, revolving largely around an online survey soliciting comments from the community. It will open Nov. 26.

Between Dec. 2 and Dec. 7, the board and consultants will schedule meetings with members of the community, parents, students, staff, support staff and administrators, either in groups or with specific individuals. 

Talking points in both the survey and the meetings will include "What is working well?  What are upcoming challenges?  What are the desired characteristics of the new superintendent?" Reed said.

Consultants will develop a preliminary report based on the survey and community meetings and deliver it to the board Dec. 20, though the survey opportunities will remain open beyond then, Reed said.

"The draft report will identify the most popular characteristics" heard by the group so far, Reed said. "The consultant will be able to begin the recruiting process after that meeting on Dec 20."

Community forums will be held weeks of Jan. 7 and 14 to discuss the draft report and themes, Reed said.

The board will begin interviews with semifinalists in March and April, with the goal of making a public announcement in May, according to board documents.

See also:

Board Prepares to Review Superintendent Search Consultants

Board Begins Hunt for Superintendent Search Firm

Superintendent Search: Board Looks To Montgomery For Guidance

FCPS Superintendent Jack Dale to Retire in 2013

PatchChat Live: A Look Ahead At FCPS

Graham November 13, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Regarding a survey, waste of time if it results in a long list of happy no-brainer characteristics that pepper the results of every single such survey seen. The kinds of things we - parents, teachers, child advocates - are looking for are not so much "characteristics" as ACTIONS. We want a superintendent who really DOES engage teachers and parent advocates and isn't so terrified of them that he has 20 public relations Cerebrus's guarding the Gate House, isn't afraid to acknowledge serious flaws in school system policies AND practices, and has a proven track record of actually tackling root causes based on real, research-based solutions, substantive input from the people closest to the kids themselves, and national (if not international) best practices. ACTIONS speak louder than resumes. Thus, there cannot be a closed list of final candidates. The finalists must be vetted by the school board and the community - all of us researching, asking friends, colleagues, experts, on how that person did in his/her current/last position in reality vs. in puff pieces put out by that district. Anyone hiring from FCPS based on what the system itself spins out, would think we were full of Jesuses, Marys, Mandelas, and Dalai Lamas. Many systems have open processes for their superintendents. Given that ours is a career-topper, we should have no trouble finding candidates. And we are not in the business of protecting the candidate's current job security.
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