East Aurora School Board to create superintendent profile
By Kalyn Belsha firstname.lastname@example.org September 6, 2013 12:21PM
Updated: October 9, 2013 7:39PM
AURORA — The search firm hired by East Aurora School District to help find a new superintendent is preparing a packet for the school board that will explain what staff, students and community members are looking for in a top leader.
The search firm will present its findings at the Sept. 16 board meeting, after it has collated responses from an online survey, two open forums and nine focus groups held Wednesday and Thursday.
School board members will use those findings to see if what they want in a superintendent matches what the larger East Aurora community wants.
“Some boards are disconnected from their community and some are very spot on,” said Mary Fasbender, a representative of the search firm.
Then the board will approve a superintendent profile and the firm will recruit candidates.
The findings will be separated based on the groups that were targeted for input, including top administrators, principals, teachers and union representatives, office and support staff, city officials and clergy, parents, high school students and community groups.
Each group was asked about the district’s strengths and challenges and the kinds of qualities the next leader, who replaces Superintendent Jerome Roberts when he retires next June, should possess.
Only a handful of community members attended the open forums this week: a total of 10 over two days.
Those who did attend said they were looking for a superintendent who is more visible in the community, is able to provide clear oversight and has experience turning around districts that are struggling academically.
Fasbender said in the focus group for high school students, most didn’t know who the current superintendent was.
“I think a good leader… needs to be actively involved and not just sit within the walls of District 131,” said Trish Rooney, who directs an early childhood education collaborative, SPARK, that works with East Aurora.
Rooney added that the next superintendent should understand how to find untapped resources in the community, collaborate with partners and identify gaps in the education system.
Forum participants also said they desired a candidate with bicultural — ideally bilingual — skills and experience working as both a top administrator and an educator.
“The diversity in this school district, that they have that understanding (is important),” said Gloria Salinas, who works at the service center and whose children attended East Aurora schools. “That they understand where we come from.”
Fasbender said a bilingual superintendent was mentioned often in focus groups, but that it’s difficult for a district to limit candidates only to those who can speak both English and Spanish.
Looking for a candidate with bicultural understanding is a good compromise, she added.
Forum participant Ken Darby, who frequently attends school board meetings, said he was looking for a superintendent who is transparent about district plans and a strong leader.
“So they can run the district according to their plans, not the board’s,” Darby said.
According to the search timeline, the school board plans to select a new superintendent by February.