Decisive. Accessible. A leader.
Those are some of the qualities Central Valley School District’s community members are seeking in a new superintendent.
In a series of meetings Tuesday and Wednesday, the district’s consultants solicited input from the community on three issues affecting the search.
But if people are unhappy with the superintendent the school board eventually chooses, only a handful will be in a position to complain.
Few people attended the meetings scheduled by the district for the first stage of the process - compiling a personality and job profile for the new superintendent.
School board members scheduled meetings for everyone from students to retired Central Valley staff to members of the business community, but the majority were unattended. A couple meetings drew two or three people. Only a few attracted as many as 10 or 15 people.
Community members do have another chance for input - at 5:30 p.m. Monday at CV’s administration building at 19307 E. Cataldo.
Despite poor attendance, the district’s search consultants gathered extensive information about what the community wants in a superintendent. The participants in each meeting were asked three questions: What does Spokane have to offer potential candidates? What issues and concerns will the new superintendent have to deal with? And what qualities are important in a superintendent?
High on the list of why a superintendent candidate would be attracted to Spokane was recreational opportunities. It’s a community with four balanced seasons, many respondents said, with easy access to activities such as fishing, camping and skiing.
“I just think of the Northwest as a better balanced area,” said parent Kathy Miles. “But I’m not sure I want to sell a lot of people to come to Spokane.”
Other factors that make the Spokane Valley attractive are: it has a small town feel but abundant cultural opportunities, it’s a good place to raise children, and it’s experiencing economic growth.
On the flip side, rising violence, overcrowding in schools, and difficulty passing bonds are among the issues audiences said the new superintendent would have to be prepared to handle.
There’s divisiveness between the two high schools, said Larry Bernbaum, a counselor at Central Valley High School. There’s not a comprehensive technology plan for the entire district, said Marijke Albers, a librarian at Evergreen Junior High.
In painting a picture of the next superintendent, the list of qualities was long and varied. Students want someone who takes students seriously. Staff want someone who builds a team atmosphere. Parents want someone who welcomes them into the schools.
But a few qualities intrinsic to any leader spanned most groups. People want a decisive communicator with strong human relations skills. They want someone who is visible in their schools and who they feel welcome to approach.
“I think we really need (someone) who exists, because before we just had people we heard about,” said Central Valley High School senior Solanj Sing, a member of the student body association.