Progress Report: Superintendent Search
Movin' Right Along
POSTED: 7:00 a.m. ET, February 24, 2011
By: Joan Wodiska, Chairman, Falls Church City School Board
In the immortal and contagious words of Kermit the Frog, the School Board is “movin’ right along” on the search for a new Superintendent of Schools.
On behalf of the School Board, I want to first thank you for your interest and input into the search for a new Superintendent. Your input directly informed and shaped the School Board’s work. We greatly appreciate all your comments, emails, survey responses, and conversations all across our Little City.
The School Board is excited, energized, and unified in our quest for the next great leader to push the envelope and lead our school district to even higher levels of success and excellence. We are more confident than ever that the Board will find an exceptional leader for our district. So in these difficult days of the budget debate, if you see a Board member humming a happy tune, please understand, the Board is “moving right along” on the Superintendent Search and excited with the high-quality of the candidate pool. The School Board expects to announce a new Superintendent of Schools by April 2011, with an employment start date of July 1, 2011. Additional information is available online at www.fccps.org/supersearch.
Extensive Public Input and Engagement
Hiring a new superintendent is the biggest task facing a School Board. In an effort to ensure ample opportunity for public input into this critical decision, the School Board announced an ambitious schedule of six public hearings, an online survey, and created a new website to gather community and staff feedback. The six public hearings, including four hearings that were held in each school building, helped to ensure additional opportunities for staff and the public to provide input.
The School Board’s survey was also well received by the public. In total, more than 550 individuals, including Falls Church parents, school employees, and community members, responded to the School Board's detailed and thorough survey. The full results of the survey are available to the public.
Without question, the public’s strong response to the survey is indicative of our community's support for education and the importance of this decision for our entire City. The wealth of feedback was extremely useful and directly informed the Board's search for a new superintendent. In fact, the survey data were used to develop the criteria used to select the next superintendent-- qualifications, experience, and personality profiles – commonly referred to by Board members as the “Superintendent Criteria.”
After several public meetings, during which the School Board reviewed the public’s responses to the survey, the Board wrote, developed, and unanimously approved the Superintendent Search Criteria. In short, the School Board heard from the public that you expect the next Superintendent to be an experienced, innovative, and community-minded educational leader with excellent communication and management skills who has demonstrated success in improving student achievement. Ideal candidates would have classroom and administrative experience; a proven track record of raising student achievement and closing achievement gaps; and knowledge of e-learning or on-line learning, school construction, and finance and budget. Additionally, the Board heard our Superintendent must be a “jack of all trades” and of the highest ethical and moral standards. In short, the public wanted an education rock star. The Board listened, and that’s our goal for our schools and City.
Results of Nationwide Search
Given these high expectations, I’m pleased to report that our nationwide search for a new leader, which began last fall, resulted in a strong, diverse pool of high-quality candidates. In fact, as evidenced by the detailed resumes, applications, and supporting documentation, the stellar reputation of the City of Falls Church Public Schools attracted an exceptionally talented pool of proven leaders in education. For this reason, the School Board is more confident than ever that we will find a new Superintendent to lead us into the future.
Next Steps and Timeline
So, you might be wondering, what’s next? In an effort to keep you apprised on the Board’s progress, below is a timeline for activities.
- Superintendent Search Committee interviewed candidates in Round I of initial interviews.
- Search Committee recommended limited number of finalists for full School Board’s consideration and action.
Mid-February to March:
- Extensive and thorough background checks of Superintendent Finalists completed.
- The School Board and community panel interviews Superintendent Finalists.
- The School Board may visit Superintendent Finalists’ school districts or conduct tours of the Falls Church City Schools with the Finalists (as confidentiality allows).
- School Board extends contract to final selection.
- School Board announces New Superintendent
- School Board introduces New Superintendent at public event.
- School Board oversees succession planning to ensure smooth transition.
In previous Falls Church City Superintendent Searches, community members and staff had the opportunity to meet the Superintendent candidates. In keeping with this tradition of community engagement, the School Board plans to convene a panel of staff and parent representatives to confidentially meet with the Superintendent Finalists. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and much more, School Boards are being advised to do more to preserve the confidentiality of candidates during the interview process. In short, great Superintendent candidates may forgo or withdraw from our interview process if the School Board cannot preserve their confidentiality, or at the end of the process, if their identity is disclosed. In fact, the ‘best’ superintendent candidates could suffer repercussions in their own home district, if it was known they were seeking employment elsewhere. As such the community panel proceedings must be held in the strictest confidence and will be kept confidential even after the School Board completes our work to find a new Superintendent. We thank the public in advance for your understanding and for respecting the privacy of our Superintendent candidates.
In the City of Falls Church, a Superintendent is much more than the “Chief Education Leader and Innovator.” He or she is a member of our community, an advocate, a leader, and for many a trusted friend. The School Board is moving right along to find that special fit for our City. Thank you again for your input, engagement, and ongoing support.
If you have any questions regarding the Superintendent Search, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you’d like to address your comments to the entire School Board, you may send a note to Marty Gadell, School Board Clerk, at email@example.com . As a reminder, the School Board cannot discuss individual candidates or certain specifics about our search as this is a personnel matter and the Board must preserve and protect the confidentiality for our candidates.