10 Community Conversations.

9 Districts Represented.

Over 100 Voices Heard.

Beginning in March, UnifiEd held a series of 10 community conversations to hear what the community wants to see in the selection of the new Superintendent. We facilitated conversations in each of the 9 districts and had over 100 community members participate. In each meeting, community meetings focused on the current needs of our schools, qualities and experiences they expect the new leader to possess, and ways in which the community should be involved in the recruitment and selection process of the new Superintendent.

What kind of leader are we looking for?

We asked our participants to rate on a scale from 1-5 if they wanted a leader who will make few changes and stay the course or someone who will bring new ideas and be a change agent.

More than 83% of participants said they would like a change agent, while less than 5% felt we should have a leader that makes few changes and stays the course.

Community Vision for New Superintendent

After analyzing data from all 10 community conversations, prominent themes emerged and helped us paint a picture of what our community prioritizes for selecting the best candidate for Superintendent.

Qualities and Experience

The top qualities and past work experience community members believe the next Superintendent should possess are:

A Past Educator or School System Experience

A Great Collaborator and Team Builder

A Proven Record of Success

A Skilled Communicator

 In 10 out of 10 community meetings, participants agreed they wanted to see our new leader be a past educator or have school system experience. 

The first 6 months on the job

When asked what would give the community confidence in the next Superintendent, community members consistently said they would like to see these top four things accomplished in the first six months on the job:

• Actively Listens and Responds to Needs of Students, Teachers, and Parents

• Conduct a Review of What’s Working and What’s Not Working Well in Our Schools and Build a Strategic Plan

• County-wide School Visits

• Increase Teacher Morale and Support

In 7 out of 10 community meetings, participants agreed it would give them confidence if the superintendent conducted a review of what is working and not working well in our schools, and create a strategic plan in the first six months on the job.

Public Participation in Superintendent Selection:

All participants shared the desire to be involved in the selection of the new Superintendent. They suggested the following:

Public Access to Candidate Resumes

Public Interviews of Potential Candidates

Community Advisory Council

Open Forum for Community Members

What can you do?

Now is the time to let your voice be heard! We are in the process of urging our school board members to adapt policy change to allow community participation in the Superintendent selection process and we need your help.

Contact your school board member and let them know you want them to adopt the four recommendations for community involvement. Click on the link below to send an email to your school board members. We have provided a sample message; however, we encourage you to make the message your own. If you prefer to call, dial 423-256-4170 and select the number that corresponds to your district's representative.

Click HERE to send an email to your school board members.

Attend the next school board meeting scheduled for October 27th at 5:30pm at the Department of Education (3074 Hickory Valley Road). If you are interested in speaking at the next meeting, email us at info@unifi-ed.org and we will help you through the process.

Attend one of our Advocacy Trainings to become equipped with the tools you need to successfully impact policy changes in our school system.

Learn more about these events HERE.

Examples of Public Participation

Across the country, many school systems have utilized community involvement in the selection of their Superintendent. Their methods have proven to be successful and closely align with how our community would like to be involved in the search process. Some examples include:

Brookline, Massachusetts

The school district gets the community involved in the selection process by providing a superintendent search survey to the community, hosting forums and focus groups in order to hear what stakeholders want in their superintendent, holding meetings specifically with students and teachers to hear their voice, and allowing community members to interview and provide feedback on the final candidate.

Lebanon, Connecticut

This school district has a goal of being transparent with the community
during a Superintendent search process. They learn community opinion through online surveys and focus group meetings to hear what the community would like to see in leadership.The district website and Search Committee also provides detailed information for the public throughout the process to keep them informed.

Birmingham, Alabama

Just last year, Birmingham Public Schools hired a superintendent creating an ad hoc search committee comprised of 30 community members and school personnel. They hosted informal meet and greet opportunities with the 3 finalists and the community.

Challenges and Opportunities

We also asked our participants what they thought was working well in our school system as well as highlighting some challenges our students face. Here’s what we heard the most.

What we do well:

• Our Magnet Schools (CSAS, CCA, CSLA, Normal Park, and Battle)

• The Success of STEM School

• Programs at Brainerd High School

Some Challenges our schools face:

• Inequity between schools

• A Lack of Community Voice and Involvement in Schools

• Quality Leadership in Schools, Central Office, and School Board

To Read the Transcripts and See the Full Summary from the Community Meetings