Wichita school board superintendent John Allison leaves a special meeting that started the discussion on the search of a new superintendent at the district headquarters in downtown Wichita earlier this month. Fernando Salazar The Wichita Eagle
Wichita school board superintendent John Allison leaves a special meeting that started the discussion on the search of a new superintendent at the district headquarters in downtown Wichita earlier this month. Fernando Salazar The Wichita Eagle

Education

Wichita school board begins crafting profile of next superintendent

By Suzanne Perez Tobias

stobias@wichitaeagle.com

January 27, 2017 05:13 PM

UPDATED January 27, 2017 05:52 PM

The next Wichita superintendent should have experience with tight budgets, appreciate diversity and the challenges of poverty, communicate effectively and “have the personal strength and courage to do what is right,” school board members decided Friday.

Board members developed a draft profile outlining characteristics of the next superintendent. They plan to finalize the profile in coming days and seek applications from district employees before deciding whether to broaden their search.

“We’re looking for a guy or gal that walks on water,” joked board member Jeff Davis. “Good luck.”

John Allison, superintendent since 2009, is leaving at the end of this school year to become superintendent of Olathe schools.

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Among other qualities, the proposed profile says the district’s next leader should:

▪ Be a visionary who can see the big picture and inspire others to action.

▪ Shape, guide and lead improvements in student achievement and reduce achievement gaps.

▪ Be familiar with the Multi-Tier System of Supports, the district’s framework for improving student achievement and behavior.

▪ Have “solid expertise” in the areas of special education and English language learners.

▪ Communicate and advocate effectively with stakeholders, lawmakers, community leaders and others.

▪ And “be practiced in managing self, including the ability to handle stress, balance family and work, and deal with criticism.”

During a special meeting Friday afternoon, the board heard results from an online survey of community members. Brian Jordan of the Kansas Association of School Boards, which developed the survey, said 2,510 people responded.

A majority of respondents listed “kids first” personality and “personal strength to do what’s right, regardless of circumstances,” as top-priority characteristics, Jordan said. They also want someone who can advocate for schools at the state and federal level and who understands and recognizes diversity, he said.

Some top-priority issues facing the district, according to the survey, are funding and budget, staff morale and diversity, Jordan said.

“There’s nothing surprising in any of this,” said board member Betty Arnold.

“I see this as an opportunity to confirm that we are poised to move on and make this decision because we are in line with the community.”

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias