Monday, April 26, 2010

Where There's No Smoke There's No Fire

April 26, 2010, 6:15 a.m.

Update April 27, 7:15 p.m.: It's Steve Murley! (see below)

Update April 27, a.m.: ICCSD President Fields says decision in "next few days," link below.

[This is the ninth in what is, as of this morning, a nine-part series on the Iowa City schools' search for a new superintendent: "School Boundaries: There Are Better Ways," April 16, 2010 (with links to 23 prior, related blog entries and other writing); "How to Pick a School Superintendent; And My Questions for Candidates," April 17, 2010; "Bringing Home the Bacon and Bezek," April 20, 2010, "ICCSD's Triple Play: From Bezek to Murley to Meeks; Bezek Can Talk the Talk -- On Four Hours' Sleep," April 21, 2010; "Hurlyburly Over Murley," April 22, 2010; "IC Board Peeks at Meeks; Brad Meeks Rounds Out Three Finalists," April 23, 2010; "Finalists Responses? Decision Sunday? Finalists Offered Last Word," April 24, 2010; and "IC Supers' Email: Bezek Responds, Murley & Meeks Don't; Constituent Relations Important -- But No Deal Breaker," April 25, 2010.]

How Many School Board Members Does It Take to Screw Up a Superintendent Selection?
(brought to you by*)

April 27, 7:15 p.m.: Tuned into the Tuesday evening Board meeting on cable, and caught the Board members referring to scheduling a meet and greet with "Steve" once he gets a break in his schedule, and other remarks relating to the selection of a superintendent, which makes it virtually certain that the remarks must have been preceded with the announcement of their selection of Steve Murley as the superintendent to replace the departing Lane Plugge. By 7:52 it was confirmed by the Press-Citizen: Rob Daniel, "District Names New Superintendent," Iowa City Press-Citizen Online, April 27, 2010, 7:52 p.m.

What follows is the April 26, 2010, blog entry as entered that morning:

No puff of white smoke emerged from the ICCSD Central Administrative Office last night; nor, apparently, did much of anything else emerge, except for seven undecided school board members who simply gave up and went home after a 2-1/2-hour discussion. Rob Daniel, "School board: No decision yet on superintendent; Board members may discuss hire Tuesday," Iowa City Press-Citizen, April 26, 2010, p. A1.

I do have sympathy for them. I do. I've been there, done that. I'm grateful they're willing to serve -- up to and including giving over their Sunday evenings to Board business.

But honestly, what does it take to get a decision, a commitment, out of this gang? It's four months they've been at this; see, "The Plugge Era: 1999-2010," December 24, 2009; "School Board Can't Do Job? There They Go Again," January 7, 2010 (and roughly a year on boundary changes yet to be decided). As I understand it, they've had the input of a search committee, a full list of possibles, two rounds of interviews with the three who became finalists, each of whom on this last round spent a day of tours and meetings in the District, capped off with a 45-minute "meet and greet" with the public and an hour-plus in a public interview Q-and-A on camera. Board members have had the benefit of numerous newspaper stories and opinion pieces in the three local newspapers (and, he adds modestly, now nine all-too-lengthy entries in this blog, linked above). They've had plenty of time to do their own, individual calling around the finalists' communities. The video of the public interviews were supposed to have run over this past weekend; so there's been at least as much exposure of the finalists to the general public as there usually would be -- with an opportunity for individuals to pass along their reactions to the Board.

Board members have essentially four possible choices: one through three are to select any one of the three finalists; choice four is to reject all three and do another search. The Gazette reports that the Board is leaning in none of those directions: "as board President Patti Fields put it, members have not eliminated any of the three candidates." "No Decision Yet on New IC Superintendent," The Gazette, April 26, 2010, p. A3. The Wausau Daily Herald reports that "School Board President Patti Fields said the board hoped to have a decision in the next few days." "Superintendent Awaits Job News," Wausau Daily Herald, April 27, 2010.

Our Board members are well educated, experienced, well-intentioned, politically sensitive and otherwise able individuals -- unpaid volunteers, generously giving of their time. The problem seems to be, as is so often the case with boards without a fully considered and applied governance model, what happens when they try to function as a group. See Patti Fields Blog.

You may have seen this poster about "Meetings," with the caption: "None of us is as dumb as all of us." [Credit: Despair, Inc.]

Offered an opportunity to have the "last word" in this blog series (see "Finalists Responses? Decision Sunday? Finalists Offered Last Word," April 24, 2010), Steve Murley did his best to come to our Board's defense; see "IC Supers' Email: Bezek Responds, Murley & Meeks Don't; Constituent Relations Important -- But No Deal Breaker," April 25, 2010 (contrary to the heading, Murley did respond, but too late to make the original publication, so was inserted at the bottom of the original blog entry; and as of late morning today Brad Meeks also had a reply, also at the bottom of that blog entry).

Steve Murley wrote, in pertinent part, "You stated that, 'Indeed, one should be extremely suspicious of anyone who would be willing to be considered for the job of working with such a school board.' Your comment was made in reference to concerns that you enumerated about the lack of a clear governance system, delineation of measurable goals, discussion of educational innovations, and absence of metrics for results measurement related to boundary changes. I am in full agreement with you that these are indeed important issues for the Board to tackle. However, the absence of these does not indicate to me that the Board has chosen to ignore them or that the Board thinks they are unworthy of attention."

In short, in my words: "wherever our Board members may be headed, they just ain't there yet."

* Why do I put this blog ID at the top of the entry, when you know full well what blog you're reading? Because there are a number of Internet sites that, for whatever reason, simply take the blog entries of others and reproduce them as their own without crediting the source. I don't mind the flattering attention, but would appreciate acknowledgment as the source -- even if I have to embed it myself.
-- Nicholas Johnson
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1 comment:

Nick said...

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