By Betsy Dolan
The Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees(BOT) have named long time Assistant Superintendent Mike McKie as the Acting Superintendent, paving the way for the board to launch a search for a new superintendent who will take over the state’s seventh largest school district in January.
As the search commences, the BOT intends to keep the community updated through a “New Superintendent Search” link on the district’s web site which details the first steps in the board’s hiring process including the intention to seek input from the community.
“The board is spending the month of August doing its homework,” said Jim Rice, Board President. “We, as a board, have to be in agreement on this issue because hiring a new superintendent is the most important thing a school board will ever do.”
On July 9, the Board unanimously approved an amendment to Superintendent Tim Jenney’s employment contract allowing him to retire at the end of January. Jenney had enough sick leave and vacation days to allow him to depart the position immediately. Long time Assistant Superintendent Mike McKie was appointed Acting Superintendent.
The board, which had three new members elected in May, has already had an all-day team building session and will meet again on August 16 to discuss the transition process and possibly modify the core values of the district, the mission and the statement of belief. The trustees will meet again on August 20 to discuss the superintendent search. The board intends to use an educational consulting company to assist in the hiring of a superintendent search firm.
“We will look at what is working in the district, what isn’t and outline the questions that the board needs to be asking viable candidates,” Rice said. “The superintendent search firm will need a plan to facilitate community input and teacher input.”
On the FBISD Concerns Facebook page, parents were already discussing what they would like to see in a new superintendent candidate.
“Leadership through trust and respect for teachers, parents, and students. Transparent communication. Track record of community engagement and consensus building,” wrote one parent.
“Someone who realizes this district does NOT fit into a one-size-fits-all curriculum plan/budget/discipline plan. He/She needs to look at each campus as an individual piece. I hate when the new guys come in with a new “plan”: We don’t need to keep rebuilding the wheel – we need to fix the spokes so we can all be stronger,” wrote another parent.
Rice said one of the most important challenges facing the new superintendent will be an ability to navigate Texas’ controversial school finance system which is expected to be even more bogged down with the departure of several key players earlier this year. In addition, Rice said the ideal candidate will have to understand the public education system in Texas and the STAAR accountability system as well as be able to reach out to the community.
“The new superintendent needs to be well grounded in academics and be knowledgeable in the every day business of educating kids,” Rice said. “But we also need someone who wants to spend time visiting community groups and all 74 campuses and someone who is able to earn the trust and respect of
administration, teachers, parents and students.”