With Ted Neitzke and Bill Greymont resigning after this year, how would you like to see the positions of superintendent and head principal filled?
Well, I’m mainly focused on the superintendent at the present point in time. I think we need to have someone who really has a strong background in curriculum. I think that is a real concern of mine that I have. Especially given the outcomes that we’ve seen recently. And I think as you’ve probably read in the paper, there’s going to be not only a local search but a nationwide search for superintendent. Certainly someone with a wide breadth of experience, with new ideas, and someone who’s going to be very objective. And I hope that that happens.
As far as principal is concerned, [we] probably, maybe should even use a search agency to fulfill that position as well. And not just look locally, but throughout the state and maybe even nationally. We want the best talent we can find and we want someone who is qualified and well-prepared to take the position of leadership, whether it’s as superintendent or as principal.
Well, the principal job, the board doesn’t really have a lot to do with. We can share our feelings with the superintendent, but it’s really his job to fill the positions under him. So that one is being filled right now. I can tell you that it’s been kind of a sore spot, the high school principal jobs, ever since I’ve been on the board we’ve had a lot of controversy there because in the past you had two principals and they were not, obviously you have different people, but they were not comparing and keeping, in terms of rules or philosophies, it was not being run consistently. And with our unique situation, you have a lot of kids that are crossing over in classes and stuff after your base courses. So the idea that you had discipline rules or consequences over here in East that you didn’t have in West, it was a problem. So I was one of the ones who thought it was a good idea to consolidate that position and when Cassandra left and Pat Gardon retired, it gave us an opportunity, with both heads being gone at once, you could look at a restructuring of that.
When that was consolidated, I’m not sure that we, number one, left it up to the principal to do it, and maybe didn’t quite get the structure right or whatever, but we only had then two years of [Jim Curler] in charge in order to try and restructure that, and then he left and we got Mr. Greymont. He’s been, in some ways, disappointing as well, in terms of really taking charge of that position. I guess what I’m looking for is someone who will really come in with a unique perspective and say, “How do you run this building the best way?” You have assistant principals that, I think we’ve structured it now where they’re at grade levels, or is it by departments, how do you break down the assistant levels and things like that and what’s the best way to set up the high school for success? And so what I’m really looking for is a leader from that perspective.
As far as the superintendent’s job, we’re just starting into that initial phase of creating this profile of what kind of a person we’re looking for. We just hired a search firm to help start that process. The community will be weighing in, different groups of people from staff to business leaders, we’ll also ask for input on that. Just in the early stages of trying to say what kind of skills and ideas should this person bring to the job. And just from my perspective, I don’t see any major problems right now that you’d need someone to really come in and change things, to me it’s more of a, “Here’s what we’re doing and we’re happy with the way things are,” but we need to manage them and keep going forward, and obviously, having another perspective, look at things down the road, where should we be going, and make sure that we’re on track. That’s one of the things that I think is built into the system, is that constant way of looking at issues and trying to solve them. Plan, do, study, act, using that mechanism with the continuous improvement processes, I think we’ve ingrained that at all levels of the system, so I think somebody should be able to come in here and pretty much just take over and keep it moving forward pretty easily. In my personal opinion, that’s what we would be looking for, but like I said, we’re just starting that process. We’ll see what other people in the community feel as well as we create that.
There needs to be a diplomatic process in recruiting and searching for the most qualified candidates. Candidates that come to us with a history of professionalism, success. You go to the schools that they come from, you interview the teachers, you interview the students, you interview the parents, you find out great detail about their success in their current environment and what they can bring to West Bend. A collaborative approach: get parents on the committee, students, teachers, administration, and community business people. Gain insight from all of the resources that we have here in West Bend in order to select the most appropriate person to lead and direct the high school, as well as the district.
I like the fact that we’re having an outside search, I think that’s incredibly important. I think that when we have the results of it, or when we have the people narrowed down, that we need to have someone look at people who are in the district right now, and then also people who are outside of the district. I understand the benefits of the two major positions that are being opened up, I can see where it would be nice to have at least one of them filled by someone in the district. But my concerns are that if people aren’t happy with the way things are going now, maybe we need to get both positions filled from somebody who’s outside of the district. And I want to be sure that when we hire the person, that the person has classroom experience. Sometimes some of the people who may be in the position now have classroom experience, but it’s been a while ago, or not as much classroom experience. I want to be sure that they have the right credentials, so if we need somebody who has a PhD, okay that person has a PhD now and is ready to go with it. So just being sure we have people who have qualifications now or are very near to fulfilling those qualifications, that they’ll be ready to go by the time it’s fall.
And someone who’s going to listen to teachers. I think teachers need to have input into who is going to be chosen. I think that candidates need to be, that their CVs need to be available for everyone to see online. There needs to be a chance for people to meet with the candidates if at all possible. So that there’s complete transparency, we know who the best person is for the job based on education and experience, and then the board members can hear what the public has to say, what the teachers have to say, and take that into consideration.
– Interviews and transcriptions by Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff
Read more about Jenn Donath, Tiffany Larson, Randy Marquardt, and Ken Schmidt at The Current, including their full responses regarding policy change and teacher turnover. Earlier coverage can be found here.
The school board election is Tuesday, April 5.