The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 7, 2013

Public meetings to focus on city schools superintendent search

By Lora Scripps
lora@athensnews-courier.com

— A clear vision for the district, an effective communicator, someone with good financial skills, a willingness to locate within the city limits  — all characteristics worth considering when searching for the city’s next school superintendent.

“What would you like to see in the next Athens school superintendent?”  — It’s a question the school board is seeking your help to answer.

Anyone in the community with an idea of what makes a well-rounded superintendent will be able to share ideas Tuesday.

School board members have already tentatively agreed to hire the Alabama Association of School Boards consultant team to the lead the search. As part of the package, AASB recommended seeking community input.

“The process we are using is standard for AASB,” said Board President Russell Johnson. “We evaluated two consulting firms and the board felt that AASB had the best understanding of the education system in Alabama and would find us great candidates.”

Where do you come in?

“We want the next superintendent to be a decision made by the community,” said Athens school board member Tim Green.

A series of meetings are slated Tuesday in the board room of Athens Board of Education Central Office, located at 455 U.S. 31 North.

Meetings open to school and system administrators will take place from 1:45-2:45 p.m.; public officials 3-4 p.m.; certified staff 4:15-5:15 p.m.; support staff 5:30-6:30 p.m.; and the general community from 10:30-11:30 a.m. and 6:45-7:45 p.m.

“We want to have community buy-in when it comes to hiring a superintendent,” said Green. “This is the best way we know how to get that buy-in … Basically, we need your help. We are not going to be able to accomplish what we want to accomplish if people don’t come out.”

School board members will not attend the meetings in hopes the community will talk freely.

After the meetings, AASB will compile all gathered information and bring it before the board.

Those who can’t make the meeting can take an online community survey available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AthensSearch2013 .

The surveys are open to anyone and will be available through March 19.

The community meetings and surveys would make the process of finding a superintendent smoother, according to Green. “I’m very pleased with it,” he said. “I think all the board is pleased with the community engagement side of the package.”

“The superintendent of our schools is probably the most important job in the city,” added Johnson. “We are entrusting our kids to the schools and it (the system) needs strong leadership. We hope to gain a sense of what the community wants in a superintendent.”