Dysart ends superintendent search application phase

Dysart Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Gail Pletnick speaks with a student. Dr. Pletnick will retire at the end of the 2017-18 school year. Dysart is conducting a search for her replacement. [File photo]

Jennifer Jimenez
Independent Newsmedia

National search firm McPherson & Jacobson was selected by the Dysart Unified School District governing board to aide in the search for a new superintendent before the start of the next school year.

Since then, nine stakeholder meetings were completed and Dr. Mary Kamerzell with McPherson & Jacobson has presented an executive summary of the meetings to the Governing Board.

During the meetings, 193 participants provided feedback, with an additional 174 comments coming from an online survey, which was open to the public.

“That’s an outstanding participating rate and this is refl ective of the kind of community interest there is in your schools and the partnerships with various groups,” Ms. Kamerzell said.

Four questions were presented, including: What are the good things about your community?; What are good things about DUSD?; What are some things the new superintendent should be aware of?; and, What are the characteristics the new superintendent should have to be successful?

Ms. Kamerzell said there were over-arching themes they gleaned from the meetings.

“Most of the comments were very positive about the community at large and the district, with a great level of community support for education at all levels,” she explained. “Families feel safe and the diversity of citizensholds high value.”

Specifically, stakeholders said the district has a great reputation of being student- centered and educates all students well through a large variety of program offerings. They like the strategic plan in place that focuses on improvement of the district and the teachers and administrators are dedicated to the students, according to survey responses.

Some concerns the stakeholders believe the new superintendent should be aware of include, the lack of adequate funding for K-12 education, issues surrounding recruitment and retention of quality teachers and compensation, the inadequate A-F rating label for schools, and community support for election bonds and overrides.

“Stakeholders are looking for someone who knows how to build strong relations and values policy governance,” Ms. Kamerzell said. “Also, someone who is technologically skilled, who can build trust and explain change to the community. All while keeping what’s in the best interest of students at the forefront of decision making.”

McPherson & Jacobson CEO Thomas Jacobson presented the board with sample interview questions based on the criteria they created and developed a potential interview schedule. He said 46 individuals began the application process, but said he anticipates the number to go up.

After a group of candidates is selected from those who turned in an application, interviews will take place once per day. The day will include a quick tour of the district, with some campus visits, before meeting with stakeholders from various groups representing the district.

“We tell the groups to sell their district to the candidate, since it truly is a twoway decision-making process,” Mr. Jacobson said. “We want them to leave their interview saying Dysart is a great district with great people.”

Mr. Jacobson said after the groups have met with each candidate, the board will get to see the feedback they provide as well. Then an information session will take place around a meal with the board

The search firm will return to present the list of qualified candidates to begin the interview process Wednesday, Nov. 15.

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