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Town halls give public voice in Washoe superintendent search
by Garrett Valenzuela
May 31, 2012 | 1311 views | 1 1 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Heath Morrison
Heath Morrison
RENO — Washoe County School District Board of Trustees is seeking public input about who should fill Superintendent Heath Morrison’s shoes once he leaves this summer.

By holding a series of public town halls and open houses, lead search consultant Jim Huge, and his team at Jim Huge and Associates, are meeting with parents, educators and community members for guidance.

Huge hopes the input will aid the team’s “targeting recruitment” strategy, he said.

“The Board could sit in a room and make this decision on their own and not have a problem,” Huge said to a room of about 20 people at Melton Elementary School on Tuesday. “They have sought community input to help make sure we get a candidate that suits the community.”

Huge distributed forms inquiring what attendees thought the superintendent’s qualifications, experience, skills and abilities should be and also asked them what issues should be addressed in the first 18 months.

“Along with the Board’s judgment, the forms will help get a pool of candidates that we can begin interviewing and narrowing down,” Huge said.

Five Board of Trustees members were present Tuesday as Huge opened the floor for public comment at Rollan Melton and Roy Gomm elementary schools, allowing the public to not only debate the strengths and weaknesses of Morrison, but elaborate on their ideas for the selection process.

“I think we should put more emphasis on finding somebody local,” said Carlos Hatfield, of Reno. “I want somebody with ties to the community and who is committed to the community, and not necessarily who has the best résumé but who is committed to us in northern Nevada.”

One audience member disputed a candidate coming from the community, saying that somebody with a diverse career who will work closely with the economic development agencies would be best.

Another community member and parent said that a leader from the west coast would be best in their ability to offer a different attitude that will help them focus their attention on providing equal attention and funds for all schools.

Many who participated in the discussion were members of parent groups who had worked closely with district members. One was Andrea Hughs-Baird, of Reno, who said that a fresh, outside perspective is important to focusing the vision of the district.

“Perspective is key in knowing that we are not in the same condition as the rest of the country,” she said. “We need someone who wants to progress the plan that we already have in place.”

Huge told the group that on average a superintendent at a large district, such as Washoe County, stays about three and a half years and the Board is “not looking for somebody building their résumé.”

Morrison will begin his tenure at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina on July 1 and Huge said he plans to have the final interview on June 28. Applications will be accepted for the position until June 11.

Open town hall meetings are being held today at 7:30 p.m. at Sepulveda Elementary School’s Multipurpose Room, Saturday at 10 a.m. at North Valley High School’s Theater and Monday at 7 p.m. at Incline High School’s Theater.
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May 31, 2012
The fact Broad-connected headhunter Jim Huge is involved in the superintendent search says it all. "Public input" is just window dressing; the board is going to do what it is going to do. It wants a clone of Morrison, and that means an Eli Broad Academy-type, almost all of whom have been failures in public school districts around the country.
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