THREE OAKS — Members of the River Valley Board of Education, meeting via the Zoom App on Jan. 23, were given information on stakeholder input from a survey related to the district's search for a new superintendent by Michigan Association of School Boards Consultant Jay Bennett.
Among the qualities people responding to the survey indicated they want in a superintendent were: being honest and ethical; approachable; a problem solver; strong at listening and communicating; transparent, personable and empathetic; maintains visibility within the district and with students; responsiveness to students with learning differences; professional development of staff; experience with school bond millages; collaborative; resourceful; and goal-oriented.
Once of the qualities that rated much lower in survey responses (parents were the largest group taking part) was being a risk-taker.
Several board members expressed surprise that the quality of having a proven track record of raising student achievement didn't rate higher in the survey, but Bennett said parents often feel their child and local district are already doing well. He later noted that the board should still consider those with a track record of promoting academic growth as an important qualification.
Bennett said most of those taking the survey indicated they are pretty happy with how things are going and want to maintain what is currently going on in the district.
Proposed selection criteria message led off with: "The River Valley School District is seeking a superintendent who will work with the Board of Education to continue its implementation of cutting-edge initiatives while also supporting student growth and strengthening relationships with community stakeholders."
Board members suggested using "proven" initiatives rather than "cutting-edge."
Other proposed language also was reviewed such as: "Promotes a culture of learning (later added was "and academic success for all students;" and "Experience with integrating technology as appropriate in the learning process."
Professional experience being sought include: Successful experience working with rural communities; K-12 classroom teaching experience; building-level administrative experience; previous superintendent experience preferred; Master's degree plus Michigan Administrative Certification; Demonstrate responsiveness to students with learning differences; Proven track record of raising student achievement; and Public relations experience.
It was suggested that experience in implementing technology be added.
After reviewing other qualities desired in applicants involving personal attributes and management skills, board members were told the deadline for applicants will likely remain open through mid to late April. The board later set April 21 as a tentative deadline date with the board then reviewing candidates during its April 27 meeting and interviews hopefully taking place in May.
"We're just kind of in a holding pattern … waiting to see how this is all going to shake out," Bennett said.
Current River Valley Superintendent William Kearney (who is set to retire at the end of the current school year) asked if interviews could be conducted via a remote meeting.
Bennett said they could, although it does not provide an easy way for the community to participate. He added that a district in Lansing recently televised interviews and offered people the opportunity to fill out a survey in addition to holding meetings.
"I know if I was on the board my preference is to actually meet these candidates as opposed to doing all of this virtually," he said.
In other March 23 business, the River Valley Board of Education:
• Approved recognizing the following alumni as Alumni of Distinction honorees: Randy Carver (Class of 1967), Barry Patejdl (Class of 1970), Mike Davidson (Class of 1971) and Steve Hettinga (Class of 1988).
• Awarded the following contracts for the summer projects: Superior Services RSH, Inc, — for roofing; City Plumbing & Heating Co. — for mechanical; Linear Electric Inc. — for electrical.
• Accepted bids for the following projects: Sinclair Recreation for a playground structure at Three Oaks Elementary; Sport Court Construction to expand the outdoor basketball court at Three Oaks; and Creative Landscaping to replace landscaping at all three district buildings.