On February 28, 2008 Gary Eberhart and Paul Strange wrote what I believe was a heartfelt letter to the MDUSD community through their MDUSD Blog. The post was entitled What Next and Why Now? In light of the upcoming evaluation of the current superintendent I decided it would be a good idea for all those who wanted change in 2008 to be reminded – where we were and where we wanted to go.
“What Next and Why Now?
…It is critical that we change leadership in our district because much of the dysfunction in our district is directly attributable to the Superintendent and the majority of the Board… How can we serve children as Board members if we are denied access to critical information? How can we make critical budget decisions if the budget information that we are provided is incomplete or incorrect? How can we ignore the fact that employee morale is at an all time low? How can we stand by and watch the Superintendent maintain the status quo?
…many of the issues we face are tied to a failure to engage in strategic planning. We need to launch a full scale strategic planning process as soon as possible if we want to save this district… By failing to engage in such a process over these many years he has demonstrated that he does not believe in such efforts. Strategic planning requires employee buy in and collaboration – the Superintendent does not collaborate well. Community involvement is also necessary for a successful planning process. Given the current lack of community support for Mr. McHenry, he cannot lead the community in a planning process…
… it is a necessity that this district secure a parcel tax as soon as possible… the community is not in support – because the district has done nothing in the interim to inform or educate the community…
Our district is desperate for change. Our students depend on us as Board members to stand up and do what’s right. It is never too early to do what is right. This path that we have embarked upon is not the easy path, but it is the only path that will serve the students of the district. It would be far easier to continue to embrace the status quo, but the status quo will not begin to solve the challenges that we all face as a community. We were elected to serve the students and our community and we will stand up to our obligations, no matter how difficult that task becomes. We have no choice but to call things the way that we see them. Our district needs to change to better serve the community and that change requires that we find a new Superintendent who will help to rejuvenate and revitalize this district.”
Gary Eberhart and Paul Strange - Entire Post
I have no idea if our current Superintendent is right for the job. I don’t know if he has had enough time on the job for any of us to know that answer. I, like many people, have concerns.
It appears the board did not receive a complete analysis of the cost of Measure C before they voted to proceed. Some or all board members did not receive complete information before approving the new Principals. The solar presentation that was presented to the board in June was fraught with math errors totaling almost $200,000,000. The Superintendent has publicly stated that he does not want to embark on strategic planning but would like to set goals and objectives instead. And crucial to so many of the fundamental problems in this district, and specifically the inability to gain community support, is the lack of willingness to provide clear, honest and regular communication.
Before anybody writes to explain the differences between these issues and those in the McHenry administration, I understand there are differences. It is the bigger issues of vision, inspiration, community, and ultimately quality education that are hindered by the actions of both administrations.
At the special board meeting in late summer 2009 the board was asked to list the qualities they would like to see in a Superintendent candidate. Here are their responses. Please note that they all may have supported certain attributes but were asked not to repeat what another board member had suggested.
Open and honest communicator
Works with bargaining units
Able to work with diverse cultures
Ability to analyze data
Experience moving schools out of program improvement
Understands instructional leadership, policies and practices
Has a financial background
Ability to achieve acceptance of all parents
Values each employee
Promote parent engagement
Able to analyze assessment data
Understands curriculum development and training
Inclusion – awareness of outreach to improve student performance
Meet with students, listen to student input
Experience with facilities and maintenance
Experience with collective bargaining and negotiations
Has a great presence
Track record and success in strategic planning
Understands business systems
Proven track record for fiscal
Open and Honest – full explanations / transparency
Understands customer service skills
Proven track record in important areas
Consistent and high quality evaluation of staff
No status quo excuses – “that is how it has always been done”
Lives in the community
Would consider non-traditional Administrator who possess leadership skills
Work with the board as a team
Analyze organizational structure and make recommendations
Active and engaged with the sites, has the disposition to be visible
Truly cares about students and the district
Bilingual good but should not be required
Values technology as a learning tool
Ability to facilitate consensus building amongst the staff
Possesses the ability to foster strong community relations in a diverse community
Strength and character when relating to the board
Experience with Parcel Tax elections
Develop relationships with community service organizations
Strong oral and written skills
This post doesn’t ask a question, it is simply intended to provide a reminder.