Santa Paula Times

Sparse turnout for forums on new unified superintendent

March 01, 2013
Santa Paula News

Two concurrent forums were held Monday night to gather public input on the selection of a superintendent for the Santa Paula Unified School District.

These meetings were to provide community members an opportunity to discuss the specific traits, skills, abilities and experience desired in the new superintendent. 

The Community Center forum was conducted by consultant Dr. Joseph Condon. Another forum took place at Barbara Webster School, and was led by Condon’s associate Gerrie Faucett. Turnout at both locations was small, with about two dozen people at the Community Center and maybe a dozen at Barbara Webster.

Peopled were not required to give their names, to make it more comfortable to speak. One of the major points repeated by speakers was that the superintendent be bilingual. One person was upset that letters weren’t sent home to parents informing them of the forum, and said Dr. Condon was at fault for that.

One woman said she thought someone with kindergarten through grade 12 experience was important. She also brought up the school calendar issue, which was raised at the last unified school board meeting. “We need somebody who has experience working with those calendars,” she said. She added that she strongly hope that they find a superintendent who is bilingual.  

Several members of the elementary district’s Migrant Education Committee also spoke. One person reiterated the bilingual issue, and added there needs to be better communication with Spanish-speaking families. She also wants someone who is more accessible.

Another woman said the most important thing for her as a parent is that the superintendent values the role of every stakeholder in education. “So, teachers, parents, students, administrators, community agencies and businesses... everybody needs to be involved,” she said. “It’s frustrating to me in this district that we have a lot of people in the schools who say parents don’t want to be involved. And they’ll use this meeting as an example. There’s hardly anybody here.” 

She said the turnout was poor because no letter went home to parents, and there was no information on the school website. She added that the meeting was publicized in an English language newspaper, but was not translated into Spanish. She also noted a superintendent needs to be involved in the community and be visible.

Another speaker thought the search process was too short. He suggested the board bring in someone to do the work of setting up the new district and then hire a superintendent. “I think that’s going to be more successful than what we’re trying to do now,” he added.

Dr. Condon told the gathering the basic timeline for finding and hiring a superintendent. They’ve already begun advertising the position on search websites, and will start advertising throughout California in 10 days.

They will do background checks in early May and then Dr. Condon will meet with the board to review all the applicants. He will recommend a limited number of applicants to be interviewed by the board. They will narrow the list down to two or three finalists, and a superintendent should be hired by the first meeting in June.