Feedback Given Regarding Future LISD Superintendent
Representatives from JG Consulting, which is the executive search firm hired by the LISD Board of Trustees to support the board during the selection process for the new Superintendent of Schools, held a community meeting on Apr. 9 at Lovejoy High School. This meeting is one link in a very long chain of ways the firm is reaching out for input during the hiring process.
The meeting began by Board president, Chad Collins introducing JG Consulting President and CEO, James Guerra and Senior Search Consultant (and former superintendent) Dr. Robert Jaklich. Guerra provided a bit of background on JG Consulting and praised LISD for the fact that 700 people had taken the Lovejoy ISD Superintendent Profile Development survey thus far. He said this number far surpasses any amount of survey responses they have ever received from other school districts. The meeting was then turned over to Dr. Jaklich who led the conversation with four feedback gathering questions.
The first question involved asking attendees to describe the characteristics they would like to see in their next superintendent. Answers included: “Honesty and openness. The community has a broad spectrum of opinions and I don’t think they were all taken into account.” “They should be the face of the district. Walking up and down the halls…let the kids know who they are.” “Back the teachers up.” “The management style should be positive, not intimidating.” “Public accountability…willingness to engage and receive feedback.” “Have someone who has a lot of wisdom. Education trends come and go. We want someone to be innovative and not caught up in the trends.” “Listen to retiring teachers during their exit interviews. Learn from their perspective.” “Be comfortable and sophisticated in communications on a regular basis.” “It is important for the next superintendent to be willing to look at what is currently working. It would be disastrous to do a scorched earth and have the wheel jerked to one side. The next superintendent should have their own ideas, but evaluate what is already working.” “Someone who is a listener. A lot was achieved with the previous regime, we don’t want to lose that. That’s why we moved here.” “Someone who can stick up for staff with the parents.” “Someone who has their own point of view and is not a ‘yes’ person.” “Articulate theories of education and what is best for this community.”
Interspersed in the listing of characteristics was a question from an attendee regarding what the likelihood was of a new superintendent bringing in their own staff when hired. The answer was that will be up to the new superintendent, “but not without consulting the board and staff.” Another question pertained to JG Consulting assessing weaknesses within LISD, to which they answered they are not there to assess the current administration but to find the next superintendent.
Desired level of work experience was the topic of question two. Answers included: “We need a cultural fit. It is hard to picture an effective advocate who hasn’t walked in the shoes of a teacher. Classroom experience is important.” “It is not important where they came from, but that they have a melting pot of experiences. It would be best if they had teaching experience.” “The financial piece is huge. We need a superintendent who understands what is necessary at our school district.” “We need someone to unite the district. In the past, you were either an ally or enemy of the superintendent.” “It should be someone who is a sitting superintendent. This person will demonstrate a love for education. They will be able to enter the fray and demonstrate their track record.” “It should be someone who is a sitting superintendent or assistant superintendent in Texas. They will have experience with Texas legislature and will be looking out for our future.”
At this point, the question was fine-tuned to ask if attendees preferred the next superintendent come from Texas, or can the person come from anywhere in the nation. Answers included: “I prefer they come from Texas because they will be more effective now.” We should be open to choices across the nation and globe. They can be schooled in Texas legislature.” “Open to the best and brightest everywhere, but prefer Texas.” “I would give weight to someone from Texas because we have our own culture.” “I’m open to anyone in the world, but the east and west coast clash with us.” “It’s better to fish with a net than a pole. Anyone who applies here is open to being here. It’s crazy to minimize the search to Texas.”
Question three asked, “What are three things you are particularly proud of within the school district?” Answers included: “A broad range of groups such as our bass fishing team.” “District takes proactive approach with security.” “Academic prep for post high school studies.” “Mastery based learning especially in the elementary schools. Free tutoring which pulls kids with problems before they are too far down the road.” “School does extraordinary things to support students when they are in need.” “School district is more of a community than other school districts.”
The final question was, “What are challenges in the district?” Answers included: “We need to have an environment where teachers want to be here. Give each teacher the necessary support so they don’t have to stay late.” “Some children in high school are not up for A.P. classes. Do they get lost? Is it right for every child?” “Explore apprenticeship programs.” “So much focus is on getting kids to college, but that is not the answer for every kid. Have a superintendent who emphasizes vocation program.” “We treat ourselves as an elite school. I don’t think that benefits everyone. The students have to take classes full-time and they can’t work. Let them out of class early so they can go to work.” “We need someone to champion the balance of opportunities. Some kids are A.P., some are not.” “We need more outdoor education, hands on learning. We focus on technology; spend time learning how to care for the earth.” “LISD is doing a great job on security. Have a safety plan for the future.”
Within the question and answer period, a timeline was provided that outlines when candidates will be presented to the Board of Trustees. On Apr. 18, the application for aspiring superintendents will be posted. For 21 days following that post, JG Consulting will recruit candidates and screen them online. JG Consultants will identify the top ten candidates and present those to the board. The board will have access to everything pertaining to all candidates. In the later part of May, the board will conduct interviews and in the first part of June the board will identify the lone finalist. Guerra explained that following this plan will allow the new superintendent to acclimate then “hit the ground running when the school year starts.” Guerra added, “This is a wonderful school district and it recruits itself.” They have already been contacted by potential candidates inquiring about the hiring process timeline.