Parents and teachers want the next Richmond County school superintendent to have previous experience as a teacher or principal and “special expertise” in school finances, according to the results of a survey released by the school board.
The survey, posted to the Board of Education’s Web site in early May, drew more than 1,500 participants. Made up of multiple-choice and open-ended questions, the survey quizzed participants on what kind of education, experiences and leadership abilities they felt necessary for the superintendent.
Survey results reveal that parents and school employees believe experience in an educational setting is necessary for quality candidates. About 77 percent of respondents said it was important that candidates have experience as a principal, and nearly 82 percent said it was important they have experience teaching.
“Documented leadership” abilities in community service and community affairs ranked highly, with about 73 percent saying it was a necessary background.
About 85 percent said special expertise in administration and school finances would make for good candidates.
Other qualities included on the survey drew a more divisive response. Respondents were almost equally split over whether previous experience in private business was necessary, with 47 percent saying it was “important but not mandatory” and 45 percent saying it was not important.
About 51 percent said leadership abilities in professional organizations are important, and only 12 percent responded that documented leadership abilities in public media and written communications are needed skills.
Information gleaned from the survey will be used by school board members to narrow a list of 37 candidates applying for the position. They hope to have a new superintendent by July 30.
The school board did not renew the contract of Dr. Frank Roberson, who had been superintendent since August 2010.
“The board represents the community, and this survey will help the board know what issues their community thinks is important,” said Bill Sampson, the Georgia School Board Association search leader. “The GSBA will tier the applicants based on school board qualifications, and then the school board will use the public’s surveys to help make their choice.”
School board President Venus Cain said that she wasn’t surprised by the results and that everyone wanted a superintendent who would “continue to move the district forward.”
“It seems like everybody is on the same sheet of music, as far as the community is concerned,” Cain said. “Some people want the new superintendent to have an educational background; others want the individual to have more like a CEO. But everyone wants someone that can push us forward.”
Board Vice Chairwoman Helen Minchew said that she was glad to see so many community members participate in the survey and that it would be a struggle to process what she saw as a “large variance” in responses.
“We were very glad to see so many people respond, and it gave us a large amount of information to pull to look through as we decide,” Minchew said. “They really covered the whole board. It will be a challenge to come up with someone that is a good compromise for all of these results. But we’re glad to have all of this information so the community can help us decide.”