The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

March 22, 2013

Results of Athens superintendent survey

ATHENS — Athens City school board members are looking for a new superintendent of schools?

Should they opt for the Clint Eastwood movie type — tall, mean and dusty or the Mary Poppins movie type — firm, kind and gentle?

Some 228 parents, school employees, students and Athens citizens have spoken about what they are looking for in a new leader. They revealed these desires in a recent online survey posted by the search firm helping the school board find a new superintendent.

Generally, respondents want a good listener who is approachable and humble. Someone who can live within the budget but be creative at finding money. Someone who can make tough decisions and withstand opposition but remain flexible. Someone who can expand opportunities for students geared toward the trades and technology.

These are just some of the preferences revealed in the survey, the results of which are available at the Central Office.

School board members have begun the process of looking for a new superintendent to replace Orman Bridges Jr., who will retire in July after 10 years as superintendent and 40 years in education. The board spent $8,500 to hire a research consultant with the Alabama Association of School Boards to help them find viable candidates for the job. This process included an online survey of what the parents, school employees, students and citizens would like to see. Kendy Behrends, former superintendent of Florence City Schools, presented the results of that survey during a work session this week.

A total of 228 people responded to the survey, only two of them students, Behrens said. Ninety-three percent of those respondents answered every question. Here are some general observations from some of the questions asked:

Headed in right direction?

When asked if the school system was headed in the right direction, 58 percent of all respondents agreed while 16 percent disagreed. Forty-two percent fell somewhere in between.

Among school employees, 71 percent agreed the system was headed in the right direction while only 11 percent disagreed.

Among parents, only 48 percent believe the system was headed in the right direction, with 21 percent disagreeing and 32 percent neutral.

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