On Wednesday evening March 20, 23 people attended a meeting with consultants from Leadership Associates to express their desires and opinions regarding the selection of a new superintendent for the Fall River Joint Unified School District (FRJUSD).
Leadership Associates is an executive search firm that has assisted many California school districts to select their school superintendents. The Board plans to have a new superintendent selected and approved by the regular board meeting on June 14. The new superintendent will begin on July 1.
The purpose of the March 20 meeting was to get input from staff and community members. The meeting of parents, teachers, staff members and concerned citizens from the community was moderated by consultants Rich Fischer and Tom Changnon.
Fischer began the encounter by explaining the selection process. Leadership Associates hopes that through advertising and active recruitment they will find a pool of possibly up to 14 applicants. The deadline for applications is April 17. During April and May they will complete comprehensive reference and background checks on applicants to identify applicants who are most qualified and suitable to the district. In May the FRJUSD Board will meet with the consultants to review the applications and select the candidates to be interviewed. The Board will then interview selected candidates. Final decision on who is to be hired will be the responsibility of the Board.
Fischer then asked three questions. First he asked what qualities people would like to see in their superintendent. People responded that they would like someone who is inclusive and cooperative; who is aware of and amenable to the Intermountain climate; who is up to speed on developing trends in technology; who has a background working in similar small rural, diverse districts; whose heart is committed to the welfare of the students; who is knowledgeable about finances and capable of generating revenue; and who is capable of making difficult decisions if necessary in matters concerning such issues as layoffs; and who is able to deal with issues of busing in a large geographic district.
As for character, people responded that they wanted a person with good people skills, who is committed to the community, and who is aware of and dedicated to helping at-risk youth.
The second question presented to the audience was “How do you sell this place? What are the advantages of living here?” People emphasized the diverse nature of volunteerism by individuals and organizations supporting the district. They praised the commitment of teachers and students. They said that a superintendent could be proud of the results that the district could achieve and derive personal satisfaction. Some stressed the beauty of the environment and the recreational opportunities such as fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, etc. One gentleman pointed out that there are numerous grant opportunities for rural districts available to fund specific programs from foundations.
Finally, Fischer asked what challenges the new superintendent might face. One challenging issue involved recruitment and hiring of qualified teachers, staff members and bus drivers. Another involved becoming familiar with the diverse backgrounds of students and the variable nature and needs of the nine different sites that make up the district. Another addressed balancing academics, sports, and other activities for students.
After a rich discussion on the three questions, Fischer concluded the formal meeting but many participants remained behind to carry on the conversation amongst themselves and the consultants.
Anyone who was unable to attend but would like to offer input into the selection process is encouraged to take part in an online survey at the FRJUSD website at http://www.frjusd.org/frjusdsuperintendentsearch.