The survey says…..

Published 10:08 am Monday, March 5, 2012

WINTON – The Hertford County Board of Education received some help in their search for a new superintendent Monday.

During their regular meeting, the board received the results from the community and staff survey conducted by the North Carolina School Board Association on their behalf. The board is currently looking for a fulltime replacement for Dr. John Fahey, who left in January to accept a superintendent’s job in Virginia.

Tanya Giovanni of the Association presented the information to the board. She said the information provided to the public was redacted to remove names provided by people who suggested a certain person as the new superintendent. Copies with no redaction were given to the board.

The survey showed a distinct difference in the preferences of the community and the staff.

The top priority for the community is someone who supports firm discipline in schools. That received an average rating of 4.68. The staff meanwhile rated that as the number five priority.

Number two for the community was someone who understands how to provide a safe environment for students and staff. That was the number six priority for staff members.

Coming in third for the community was a superintendent who communicates well with people of all races and socioeconomic statuses. That was also third for the staff.

Fourth in the ratings for the community was a superintendent who knows how to get staff, students, parents and the community to work together to help children learn. The staff rated that as their second priority.

Fifth for the community was a superintendent who has ideas and approaches to improve graduation rates and prevent dropouts. That was the ninth priority for the staff.

A superintendent with strong human relations or “people” skills was the sixth priority for the community, but was the number one priority for the staff.

Seventh for the community members who filled out the survey was a superintendent who is willing to take new approaches to teaching and learning. That was not a priority with the staff, which ranked it as their 17th rated concern.

Eighth for the community was a person who understands how to effectively advocate for resources needed to operate the schools. The staff of the district found that more important, however, as it was their fourth highest rated item on the survey.

Number nine for the community was someone who should have high visibility in the schools, but the staff made that priority number 16 in their survey.

Number 10 for the community members was someone who should be accessible and respond to concerns in a timely fashion. The staff rated that as the number 12 priority.

Items that were not considered important by either group included spending time in individual classrooms (20 by community, 23 by staff), has worked in North Carolina public education (21 community, 22 staff), has been a successful assistant or associate superintendent (22 community, 20 staff), should continue the current direction of the school system (23 community, 23 staff) and has been a successful superintendent (24 community, 21 staff).

While there were relatively few community responses, 23 to be exact, Giovanni said that was normal in cases where a board has recently conducted a superintendent search (Fahey was hired three years ago).

Of the 140 staff members who completed the survey, most were teachers followed by support staff and administrators.

“The information will help when you are going through and screening applicants and when you are drafting questions,” Giovanni told the board.

Board member John D. Horton said he was appreciative of the information.

“I clearly appreciation the public input, but I have to say I found it very informative to read the input from the staff,” he said. “Thank you to the staff for your honest and opinion, it will help me as we move forward.”

The board intends to have a new superintendent in place by July 1. In the meantime, Julius Walker is serving as Interim Superintendent of Schools.