Juneau, Alaska (KINY) The district hosted three listening sessions to get input from the public on what they want in the next Juneau School Superintendent.
A majority of those who offered comments felt a local candidate would best serve the district. The supporters found the candidate would understand the community and the culture of individual schools. Special education was another priority. Others want more accountability for learning gains and improvement on standardized tests.
The public also requested a superintendent who is invested in Juneau and plan to stick long term. Other public comments were a candidate who had the kids best interests at heart. Leadership was another common theme. Another desire was a good listener and another who was a supporter of early childhood education.
Another issue was efficiency and effectiveness of programs and schools in this time of budget crisis. Communication skills, experience, visibility and management skills were of less importance to people that commented at these sessions.
291 people participated in these sessions. 52-percent were parents, 44 percent were teachers and staff members. Invitations were sent to all parents and guardians in the district. The district has about 4,400 students and 1,000 employees.
Chief of Staff for the District Kristin Bartlett told the board that the outreach to members of the community were not as broad as the effort to reach parents and staff. "We did reach out to the media and it was posted on the district website. I'm not surprised by the lower number in the community, (3-percent)."
Bartlett said they did receive many more comments for this search when compared to the searches held in 2009 and 2014.
Board President Brian Holst said a School Superintendent's average stay in Alaska is between four and five years. "The last three Superintendents have had four, five and six years. I haven't heard comments that those tenures were too short."
The last two Superintendents were not from Alaska. "We've had a mix of Juneau, Alaska, and across Alaska, in our history."
Human Resources Director Darryl Smith said the national average is about five years. He added urban district superintendents last for a shorter period of time.
School Board members also had a chance to give input on the values they want most in the next Superintendent.
Dan DeBartolo said he wanted a Superintendent who is a positive role model. "People see one thing but they also talk. Its very easy for small perceptions to become big problems."
He also mentioned a willingness to delegate responsibilities and someone who trusts the staff to carry out his directives.
Jeff Short said he valued vision in a Superintendent. "Its easy to have a Supt who keeps the ship afloat. Its not easy to find one who sees where we are and where we need to go."
Kevin Allen said an instructional leader and mentor top his list of assets for a Superintendent. "We want a leader who inspires the staff in our district." He also mentioned a good relationship with the bargaining units for employees.
Steve Whitney said he supports someone willing to make decisions. He also valued honesty with the board, staff and the community.
Paul Kelly said he wanted a Superintendent able to make tough decisions. The School Board plans to set the course in the search for a new Superintendent at their regular meeting tonight.
The Board also discussed prior Superintendent experience, budget knowledge, and teaching experience.