Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Qualities in a New Superintendent

Last Tuesday, Dec. 20, the School Board looked into the qualities that the community feels a new superintendent should have.  The feedback was aligned with what I had heard from the community.

In short, the two most important skills people want in a superintendent are communications and leadership skills.  The qualities people wanted to see were a bit more distributed, with good judgment, commitment to the community, integrity, and team builder being the top four in order.  The most significant strength of the school system is excellent teachers and staff, and the most significant challenges we face are growth, facilities, and funding.  The comments in the interviews and face to face sessions were consistent.  You can find the summary of the feedback from the community here: http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fccpsva/Board.nsf/files/AGUK7D5076EB/$file/Falls%20Church%20Community%20Engagement%20%20Power%20Point%2012-20-16.pdf.

A portrait of a new superintendent arises from these results.  Folks want a communicator and leader who joins in and is committed to our community, and addresses the significant challenges we face in facilities and funding while preserving the core of our schools - the teachers and staff.  That's my personal view of the result - I'd welcome your comments.  You can find all the materials here, including a full stakeholder engagement report.  http://www.boarddocs.com/vsba/fccpsva/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=AGMRJZ6E4325

(These are my personal views and not the official statement or records of the Board. They are not minutes but my personal summary of some of the highlights from the meeting.)


  1. Phil, I can not agree more vehemently that our biggest strength and quality which needs to be preserved is Teachers and Staff!!! I think that pay raises are important for our teachers, but what is even MORE important is giving them a high quality job with autonomy and decision-making authority, a job that is not merely a means of income but a true profession. Many teachers I have spoken to see the quality of their job as more important than receiving an equal salary to surrounding jurisdictions. (That being said, yes, please pay our teachers and staff as much as we can afford!!!)

    Interesting note: where was technology in this survey? I did not see computers or technology expertise as an option for one of the qualities we are looking for in a superintendent. I did not see technology as one of the options in challenges facing the district. Why was technology completely left out of this survey??

    Thank you, Phil, for continuing to dig deeply and devote your time to these matters!

  2. Thanks for your comments - you raise excellent points. On the question of giving teachers a high-quality job with decision-making authority, I think that is addressed in both the survey and proposed qualities of the superintendent. You will see regular references to collaborative decision-making, involving others, and open communication. And that is certainly a key issue presented by the teacher survey last year.

    On technology, the subject was included and to me suggests a balanced approach. On the survey, 29% listed technology as one of the three great strengths of the district, 31% thought experience with technology was extremely important in a new superintendent, and 13.2% listed technology as one of the three most important issues facing the district. The comments in the engagement report provide more texture, with both the importance of technology and the need for a balanced approach to technology emphasized.


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