Fairfax County School Board members are on track to have a new superintendent chosen by the end of April.
After a work session Monday afternoon, School Board Chairman Ilryong Moon (At Large) said the Board was keeping to the schedule outlined in November 2012, hoping to publicly announce the new leader of one of the country's largest school systems in May.
“We are having our first round of interviews this week,” Moon said, adding that he and his colleagues hoped to hold interviews Wednesday and narrow the pool down to approximately three finalists by Sunday.
Those chosen will be interviewed a second time, and the Board will then choose its preferred candidate, Moon said.
During the work session, the Board explored the relationship they hoped to have with the new superintendent. Discussion revolved largely around collaboration and honesty.
The Board has enlisted the help of search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates in finding a replacement for outgoing Superintendent Jack Dale, who will retire in June.
At-large Board member Ryan McElveen and Jane Strauss (Dranesville) said they hoped the new superintendent would bring a positive and inspiring attitude to the workplace.
“So much of what happens in this area is people yell at each other all the time,” McElveen said. “People yell at us, we yell at the administration, and vice versa.”
Officials also wanted roles between the superintendent and the School Board to be defined and recognized.
“I think sometimes the leadership team and the superintendent have made policy decisions without our being involved at all until after the fact when the community or somebody else gets all upset about something,” Patty Reed (Providence) said.
Megan McLaughlin (Braddock) wanted a superintendent unafraid to have frank, straightforward conversations with the Board about initiatives that might not be working or challenges the school system was having. She said officials in Fairfax County had a tendency to accentuate the positive aspects and strengths of the schools even though challenges still existed.
“There’s this pressure to perform and to have these test scores constantly increase,” McLaughlin said. “I don’t want our superintendent to come in and feel like we expect a miracle worker or somebody to come in and just suddenly make everyone feel great.”
But McElveen didn’t know if some residents would see it that way.
“I think the community might expect a miracle worker,” he said.
This is Strauss and Moon’s third search for a superintendent. Strauss said there will be a significant “re-norming” process in order to get the Board and new superintendent on the same page and working harmoniously.
“That re-norming process will be probably the most significant thing we do in the first year with the superintendent, with the community and with ourselves,” Strauss said.
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