TROY — An open forum was held for the community of the Troy City School District to discuss the search and evaluation process the district’s next superintendent on Tuesday in Troy.
The meeting was held in the Troy High School cafeteria, and was moderated by superintendent search consultants Dennis Leone and Lawrence Butler of K12 Business Consultant.
Leone, who has 23 years of superintendent experience himself, told the group the purpose of the forum was to establish common themes within the community.
“You may ask, ‘What do you mean by a common theme?’ That means it’s been said to me or written to me on multiple occasions.” Leone explained. “If many people mention the same need, it’s going to be in the report. Candidates will see this report, and will study it. It’s not in the best interest of any new superintendent to be naive about what’s going on in their district, and they will do their homework, whether it involves bond issues or tax issues or other things brought to light. When compiled, this document will also serve as a tool for the board of education to use for questions that candidates will be asked when they’re brought in.”
The hope of Leone and Butler are to narrow a list of eight candidates to put before the board for interviews. The application deadline is set for March 9. The first round of interviews is set for March 19 and 20, with four interviews taking place on each day. Three candidates would then return for a second round of interviews on an undisclosed date.
A questionnaire was dispersed to those in attendance, which contained a series of questions that were discussed as a group before attendants turned them in.
The first question asked attendants to name strengths the Troy City School District currently possesses, which garnered responses such as fiscal responsibility, community involvement, proud tradition, vibrant business environment, strong alumni, and a great draw of quality staff. Attendants who were parents of students in the district commented on the wide variety of programs in place to include students as well as championing the district’s attempts at celebrating diversity.
Question two asked attendants about prominent issues they felt were facing the district. Attendants made mention of recent conversations to do away with neighborhood schools. Attendants felt that having schools in the neighborhoods helped to stabilize them, and also allowed students better opportunities for adequate rest and time management. It was acknowledged, however, that the aging condition of the schools could result in a devastating blow to funds should a roof or boiler need replaced. The 2017 levy was brought up, and it was established that the attempts by the board to communicate issues with the public were poorly delivered, which led to the levy’s failure.
There was also concern about a lack of continuity in the curriculum between the district’s elementary schools, with some stating that resources and funds available to some schools were not available to others.
Question three asked attendants what qualifications they’d be looking for in a candidate.
Attendants were interested in seeing candidates with a proven track record, passion for the community, a record of fiduciary and fiscal responsibility, and the ability to articulate visions and goals and influence the rest of the staff to achieve those goals.
It was established that a superintendent with the skills to communicate universally and find ways to consolidate resources was desirable, as such characteristics could influence voters to pass a levy in the future.
“I’m of the opinion based on everything I’ve heard today that the hiring of a superintendent is also an opportunity for growth,” Leone said. “It’s an important time of transition in this district, and I think the superintendent could be a catalyst for unification. It’s a position that could help establish more effective communication and mend some lack of trust. It’s a tall order, but I think the right superintendent can do it.”
Leone also clarified to attendants that the vote for a candidate must be unanimous.
“The superintendent isn’t going to come here on a 4-1 vote,” Leone said. “The vote has to be 5-0 with the board. There has to be a marriage between the board and the candidate they choose.”
Leone also met with a group of 20 students from Troy High School earlier in the day, which consisted of five students each from grades nine through twelve.
“We got a great cross-mix of students,” Leone said. “We wanted to make sure it wasn’t all student council or all athletes. It was a good group that diversely represented the student body.”
When surveyed similarly about a superintendent, students prioritized strong leadership abilities, willingness to deal fairly with students, and personal interest and involvement in the community.
Leone, who also recently conducted searches in Middletown, Beavercreek, Fairborn, and Bellbrook, feel that the wants of people in the community for their new superintendent are clear and unanimous.
“The comments we heard this evening were consistent with comments we’ve heard from other groups, citizens and staff,” Leone said. “I was very pleased, and I feel I have a lot of good information to include in the report. I think the hiring of a new superintendent here would present a means for a number of concerns to be addressed effectively, and I do believe that the new superintendent could have a role in unifying people with differing opinions. I see a lot of enthusiasm in this community — people want more information and are taking interest.
“It’s all about finding the right candidates, and we hope to give the board a good slate to choose from.”