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Community: Next superintendent of Starkville schools should be dynamic, open


Bonnie Coblentz



STARKVILLE -- Thirty-two people came out Thursday night to share their opinions on what the school board should look for in the next superintendent of the Starkville School District. 


The most commonly repeated themes were that the next superintendent should have good communication skills, be invested in the community, bring people together and be a person of integrity. 


The public meeting was the third held that day by the Mississippi School Board Association, with whom the board has contracted to run the superintendent search. The board will make their own decision and hire a superintendent based on information gathered and candidates screened by the association. 


Harold Fisher of the MSBA conducted the meeting. He will report to the school board the criteria given to him at these listening sessions. Earlier Thursday, he met with teachers and faculty in two separate meetings. 


Board President Keith Coble opened the meeting and welcomed the public, then left before any comments were made. 


"We want you to speak freely," Coble said after explaining procedures. 


Fisher said the criteria will be given to the board anonymously. The board will develop the application based on the criteria they choose. 


Unlike typical public meetings, when people stood to speak, they were not asked to give their names and most did not identify themselves. 


Among the comments and criteria: 


"We want someone who works well with others." 


"We want someone who talks to us." 


Respect shown for teachers, students, parents. 


Follow-through with discipline. 


"I don''t want a superintendent who''s only interested in my child as a score." 


Ability to rebuild morale: "We need the bridges of trust that have been broken to be rebuilt." 


Visionary, ambassador and salesman for the school district. 


The person should be a "real dynamic thinker and not settle for status quo." 


"We need a cheerleader for what we do well, and someone who will really critique what we''re not doing well." 


Need "a strong leader with a strong stomach and strong confidence" who can accept critique. 


Someone who will be a strong leader but not a dictator who imposes top-down management. 


Someone who does not micro-manage but involves others in decision-making. 


"They need to have a willingness to change if things are not working." 


This person needs to "not be intimidated by talent, but recognize other talented leaders and use those resources." 


A person the community can trust. "You can accept an answer you don''t like from a person you trust a lot better than you can accept an answer you don''t like from someone you don''t trust." 


The nationwide search for the next superintendent will launch Sept. 13. The MSBA will present the list of candidates to the board Oct. 31. The board has not set a hiring deadline.




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