“Expectations are extremely high for Mamaroneck’s next superintendent” asserted the Leadership Profile Report to the Mamaroneck School Board by consultants from Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates (HYA) charged with helping recruit the new leader. The report was presented by Dr. Bruce Dennis, from HYA, at the December 1 study session and posted on the district’s website.
Based on results of 168 questionnaires and focus group meetings with 198 member of various constituencies, the consultants concluded that the new leader should:
- “possess a broad knowledge of schooling, from kindergarten through twelfth grade,” have expert communication skills, be willing to “listen respectfully to divergent points of view,” and have sufficient “strength of his or her convictions” so as not to be afraid “to make decisions that may alienate a certain special interest.”
- The new leader should also embrace “technology and data” as important tools to guide the district; be able to set limits, have the ability to inspire others; be a strong speaker and presenter, have a sense of humor and be a person of integrity.
The report also noted that, “There appears to be a strong interest in finding a high-powered intellect with the interpersonal capacity to build consensus, stand up to dissent, and ultimately and successfully to implement his or her vision.”
Next Steps: Find, Interview Candidates That Best Fit the Rubric
The report will serve as a rubric for the board as it interviews potential candidates, assessing “goodness of fit,” explained Dr. Dennis. The consultants will share the findings with candidates.
Dr. Dennis remarked that the most important part of his firm’s responsibility is to actively seek candidates. They already have begun to contact various superintendent groups and to advertise in Education Week. They will begin in-person interviews on Saturday, December 12. So far, he noted, there has been “considerable interest” in the position.
Additional Concerns Expressed In Focus Groups: Taxes, Students, Technology
In developing the report, the consultants convened focus groups with particular interests. These included groups of current board members, former board members, teachers, parents, high school students, community members and athletes and parents of athletes.
The report listed concerns expressed in each focus groups. Consistent across all groups however, was a concern about “budget constraints – tax burden versus needs of the district.” Financing came up in every discussion, according to Dr. Dennis, with a consensus expressed that funding the budget as in the past is not sustainable. Other concerns listed were “meeting the needs of all students” and “technology.” The last two items were reflected in the list of characteristics the consultant will use in recruiting qualified candidates.
The list of characteristics, however, does not directly address budget or finance expertise.
The diversity of the district was often cited as a strength by members of the focus group, Dr. Denis explained. But diversity is also “a two-edged sword,” providing “a level of complexity” that has a lot to do with how needy students are distributed within the district, he said.
Dr. Dennis praised the “candor and detail” with which people spoke. Indeed, when asked if there was anything unique about the current search, he cited the “impressive level of candor.”