The Richmond Register

July 3, 2013

Survey lists new school leader's challenges

Board hopes to hire new superintendent by July 18

By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — As the superintendent search screening committee prepares to present its recommendations Monday to the Madison County School Board, the board also will consider the 776 responses to a community survey posted June 13-21.

Around five responses came from paper surveys that were available at every school while the rest were generated online.

The survey asked participants to check off the school district’s top three greatest strengths; the five most important challenges the new superintendent will face in the next five years; and the top five qualifications/experience the next superintendent should have.

The options all were generated by feedback from four focus groups that met in early June. The groups had representatives from each school and were comprised of certified staff, classified staff, parents and principals/Central Office administration.

“There were no real pop-out percentages,” said board chair Mona Isaacs, noting that every option received at least some percentage of the vote. “In a way, the survey validated the results we got from the focus groups ― they brought a lot of things to the table that struck a chord with just about everybody.”

“Effective people skills” received almost 12 percent of the vote (or 374 out of 3,142 responses in that survey category) for qualifications expected of the next superintendent. Almost 10 percent, or 314 people, thought being “student-focused” was important whereas 9.8 percent (308) wanted the next superintendent to be a “good communicator.”

“Experience in the classroom” came in at fourth with 9.20 percent (289) and “administrative experience” was fifth at 7.13 percent (224).

The top five challenges the new superintendent will face in the next five years include: “District is top heavy” (too many high-paid administrative staff) at 11.77 percent, or 385 responses out of the 3,270 in that survey category; “Lack of salary and cost of living increases” with 10.83 percent (354); “Lack of trust in leadership” with 8.29 percent (271); “Morale” with 7.31 percent (239); and “Good ol’ boy network” with 6.97 percent (228).

“Reducing financial waste” came in at a close 6.67 percent, with 218 out of the 3,270 responses in that category.     

Respondents listed the top three district strengths as “Dedicated, caring and loyal teachers/staff” with 23.88 percent, or 446 out of the 1,868 responses in that survey category; “Buildings and facilities” with 10.76 percent (201); and “Numerous resources and programs” with 10.55 percent (197).

District teachers/staff who did not participate in the focus groups took the opportunity to fill out the survey, Isaacs said.

The survey also produced “a lot of good comments and valuable information” for the next superintendent, she said. “I think every word needs to be read and considered – these are the things our next superintendent needs to hear.”

The number of responses generated in just one week shows that “this community really cares,” Isaacs said. “People really care about what we do and the importance of this decision for all of us.”

Superintendent Tommy Floyd announced in April he would be leaving the district at the end of the year. He began his new job July 1 as chief of staff for Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.

In May, the board hired superintendent search services consultant Mike Oder from the Kentucky School Board Association, who has been guiding the board and the search committee through the process.

On Monday, the screening committee finalized its recommendations for the board and will formally present them Monday in an executive session.

The board plans to interview candidates July 10 through 13. Although it must consider the recommendations of the screening committee, it is not bound by them, Oder said.

According to the timeline set by the board, it hopes to announce a new superintendent by July 18.

Randy Neeley, the district’s director of pupil personnel, was named interim superintendent in June.

Crystal Wylie can be reached at cwylie@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.