The Fairfax County School Board will use a "two-tiered public engagement process" to search for its next superintendent, board members said Monday during their first meeting with search consultants — a move likely to be welcomed by many residents who have said they felt "excluded" and "unheard" during the system's last search for a leader in 2004.
Many of those residents carried the issue of how the search for Superintendent Jack Dale was conducted into last fall's school board elections; when asked on the campaign trail, several members now on the board said they would make the upcoming search and selection process more open and inclusive.
Though the board's consultants, Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates led that search for Dale about eight years ago, the new search will look a bit different, with opportunity for online comments and a series of meetings with individuals and groups next month before two community meetings in January, board member Patty Reed (Providence) said in an email to Patch.
"The process has only just begun," she wrote.
Monday's meeting between the board and Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates broke the process into four phrases: the "planning phrase," "recruitment phase," "interview phase" and "appointment phase.
The planning phase starts now, revolving largely around an online survey soliciting comments from the community. It will open Nov. 26.
Between Dec. 2 and Dec. 7, the board and consultants will schedule meetings with members of the community, parents, students, staff, support staff and administrators, either in groups or with specific individuals.
Talking points in both the survey and the meetings will include "What is working well? What are upcoming challenges? What are the desired characteristics of the new superintendent?" Reed said.
Consultants will develop a preliminary report based on the survey and community meetings and deliver it to the board Dec. 20, though the survey opportunities will remain open beyond then, Reed said.
"The draft report will identify the most popular characteristics" heard by the group so far, Reed said. "The consultant will be able to begin the recruiting process after that meeting on Dec 20."
Community forums will be held weeks of Jan. 7 and 14 to discuss the draft report and themes, Reed said.
The board will begin interviews with semifinalists in March and April, with the goal of making a public announcement in May, according to board documents.
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