District Education Center

The District Education Center, 11 Peavey Road, Chaska.

Are you bold and passionate, and lead with courage and can make difficult decisions when necessary? Can you maintain and encourage a strong staff morale that will lead to hiring and retaining the very best? Do you have experience in working with and leading equity efforts?

Those are a few of the questions prospective candidates may be asked as the Eastern Carver County School District begins its search for its next superintendent.

A new superintendent profile was laid out at a recent District 112 school board meeting. Clint Christopher, who started with ECCS in 2017, accepted a position that begins July 1 for Muscatine Community Schools in Iowa.

School Exec Connect consultants administered the focus groups and community forum opened to the public on March 3. Approximately 100 individuals participated in the focus groups.

"This report may be used in several ways. The responses should be helpful to the board as candidates are screened and interviewed," stated a District release. "The board should review this report to become informed about the perceptions of the constituent groups and for possible questions to utilize with candidates during the search process."

Other desired qualities are:

  • Is visible and present throughout the community and the schools – the face of the district.
  • Is a proactive communicator with all district constituencies and uses a variety of communication modes, including active listening and one to one communication.
  • Is a systems thinker with clear and measurable goals and relevant district metrics.
  • Is an approachable and collaborative leader who empowers others and develops effective
    partnerships.
  • Builds a sense of district community and brings people together around common goals.
  • Is financially savvy, works effectively to represent the district in legislative matters and maintains a culture of transparency and accountability.
  • Has a clear vision for the district and can rally staff and community around that vision.
  • Embraces and understands the district’s diversity and cultures.
  • Works well together with the board in a shared leadership role while strongly sharing his/her vision and passion for the direction of the district.

A survey was also distributed to teachers/licensed staff, administrators, support staff, parents of current students, community and business leaders, and students asking for input in what is necessary for the district's new leader.

The survey had a total of 445 respondents with the largest groups — parents of students (287 total) and teacher/licensed staff (123 total).

Respondents were asked to identify three goals for the district to achieve in the next three years. Top responses were:

  • Strengthen our academic program and curriculum (34.38%)
  • Implement and maintain programs for all student achievement levels and diverse backgrounds (34.16%)
  • Build stronger connections within the district and with the community

Respondents were also asked what they believed were the greatest strengths and attributes of the school district. Dedicated and highly competent staff (56.56% of surveys), teacher quality (48.42%) and supportive and involved parents (21.96%) were the most common answers.

Additionally, the survey asked what the greatest challenges and barriers the school district faces are. Five answers recorded 20% or more: community support for referendums (37.10%), understanding and supporting diversity in the District (32.81%), strong community support of schools (28.96%), sound fiscal management (23.53%), and class size (22.17%).

"All of these things, to me, are essential for our next superintendent. There isn't one on here that I'm looking at and thinking we don't need that," said School Board Member Ron Meyer. "I think the challenge with trying to prioritize, or put something as more important is, it might be more important today in 2020, but we're not hiring a superintendent for just the challenges we're faced with now. We're hiring a superintendent for the skills and experience they're bringing to the table that will help us now, but also for the challenges for next year and the year after."

The consultants, Dr. Kenneth Dragseth and Dr. David Clough (who is also a former District 112 superintendent), recommended that this report be given to the newly appointed superintendent for a better understanding of the issues and opportunities facing the district.

"We can find the candidate who fits a lot of these. You're also going to have the superintendent for the future as well," Clough said.

The next step is recruiting candidates. As of March 16, five candidates had been identified, including three superintendents, one from Minnesota, two from out-of-state. Additionally, two other candidates are assistant superintendents in the metro area.

"We're really early in the process. We have a list of people we're going to be targeting to hopefully show interest in the position and apply for the position," Clough said. The interview process is set for May.

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