Community input considered in superintendent search

March 10, 2011, 12:14 p.m. | By Maureen Lei | 9 years, 6 months ago

Photo: BOE President Christopher Barclay visited Blair on March 3 to discuss the superintendent search.

The Montgomery County Board of Education (BOE) and Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates (HYA), the search firm assisting the BOE with the superintendent search, released the Leadership Profile Assessment on Feb. 17. The assessment identifies the characteristics that community members would like to see in the next MCPS superintendent, according to HYA President Hank Gmitro.

BOE President Christopher Barclay discussed the assessment at Blair with an audience of local administrators, teachers and students on March 3. Audience members had the chance to ask Barclay questions regarding the superintendent search during a Question and Answer session.

According to Barclay, over 3,800 teachers, students and parents contributed to the assessment by participating in focus groups, online surveys and public forums coordinated by HYA.

In the assessment, community members expressed their desire for a new superintendent who values student needs over other MCPS services, communicates effectively and hires reliable staff members. According to Gmitro, HYA is using the criteria that was identified in the assessment to find candidates for MCPS. "We're using [the assessment] as a tool to screen potential candidates, and the BOE will use it as a criteria to judge the candidates against when they make the final determination as to who the best person is for the position," he said.

Social studies teacher and Montgomery County Education Association Blair representative Marc Grossman stressed the importance of an honest, communicative superintendent. "[The next superintendent] will walk into a school system that has an incredible reputation and has enormous challenges. With that in mind, I think we need a superintendent that's not afraid to be candid," he said.

Despite the release of the assessment, Grossman expressed doubt regarding the amount of community involvement in the superintendent search process. "The question as to what extent the public can guide this process has to be raised, and perhaps there should be a little more transparency," he said.

According to Gmitro, HYA is currently screening candidates and will present a list to the BOE in late March. After reviewing the list, the BOE will start interviewing candidates in early April. It will then appoint a new superintendent by July 1. According to Barclay, screening is a vital part of the search process. "This is probably the most important phase, because the consultants have time to talk to and convince folks to apply for the position," he said. If the BOE does not meet the July 1 deadline, it will have to appoint an interim superintendent, a superintendent who will provide MCPS with temporary leadership, for a term lasting one Fiscal Year, said Barclay.

Gmitro, however, is confident HYA will help MCPS find a superintendent in spite of scheduling restrictions. "We stay with the BOE until they are satisfied that they have their person in place and the individual is ready to go. If the BOE wants additional support [we are] happy to provide that," he said.

In addition to the current superintendent search, HYA has collaborated with MCPS in the past; it worked alongside the BOE in 1999 to hire the current MCPS superintendent, Jerry Weast, said Gmitro.

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