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Local

School board identifies qualities and skills of new superintendent

Online survey available until Dec. 15, feedback still needed from public

Cody Muhs, vice-president of the Newton Community School District Board of Education, speaks with his fellow board members Monday night during a workshop at E.J.H. Beard Administration Center. The school board discussed their results from a recent stakeholder survey determining what qualities they want in a new superintendent.
Cody Muhs, vice-president of the Newton Community School District Board of Education, speaks with his fellow board members Monday night during a workshop at E.J.H. Beard Administration Center. The school board discussed their results from a recent stakeholder survey determining what qualities they want in a new superintendent.

School board members want a superintendent who effectively works with administrators, possesses strong communication skills and “fosters community” for Newton teachers and staff, results from a recent survey said.

All seven representatives of the Newton Community School District Board of Education participated in an online stakeholder survey — released this past Thursday at tinyurl.com/NewtonSuptSurvey — that requests feedback from the general public, teachers and administrators regarding the professional skills and personal traits of the next superintendent.

As of Monday night, school board members said more than 225 people have completed the survey. A large majority of those who have taken the survey identified as parents or teachers. The survey can be completed anonymously unless names and emails are voluntarily provided.

Members of the NCSD Board of Education, which recently hired the search firm Grundmeyer Leader Search, unanimously agreed they want a superintendent who can effectively work with school administrators, among other professional skills.

Superintendent Bob Callaghan announced in late October he would be resigning from his position. After unanimously accepting his resignation letter, the school board has been in the process of developing a job description for the new superintendent and utilizing the help of a search firm to speed up procedures.

At a school board workshop Monday night, members picked the top six professional skills and qualifications they want from a new superintendent:

• Effectively works with school administrators

• Fosters community for teachers and staff

• Meaningfully engages with families and the community

• Ability to lead school improvement efforts

• Effectively manages district resources

• Recruits, hires, supports, develops and retains effective staff members

They also narrowed down their top four important personal traits and qualities:

• Possess strong communications skills

• Brings out success in others

• Demonstrate collaborative leaderships

• Is approachable, accessible and welcoming

Coming to a consensus on these top skills and qualities will help the superintendent search process.

“That’s going to drive how we score our superintendent applicants — prescreening,” Cody Muhs, vice-president of the school board, said. “It’s also going to help direct the questions that we ask. That’s ultimately what we’re getting out of this process. And this is the first part of it.”

Based on the results of school board members’ surveys, Grundmeyer Leader Search determined they want a “focus on culture, collaboration and bringing out success in others,” in addition to “building trust and communication” and “promoting Red Pride.”

Survey comments from school board members, again, emphasize communication, of which the best outcome of that would be “bringing everyone together to improve student learning.”

Another comment suggested the school district is “in need of more oars working in the same direction.” Listening to issues of the district and empowering the schools to solve problems by way of “constant communication” from the superintendent, a school board member’s comment said, will be key.

Other comments believe the school district needs someone “who embodies a servant leadership mindset” and does not need “someone to come in and ‘fix’ our different departments, schools” but rather “realize the talent we do have and enhance it.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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