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Making a list

Honesty tops wishlist for new superintendent

July 14, 2010 - Responses were quick as the small audience listed skills and characteristics they wanted in their next superintendent.

Honesty, effective communication skills, active listener, sense of humor, nondictator, and treating everyone with respect came from the audience as Richard Dunham from Michigan Association of School Boards quickly typed it onto the list Monday night during the community forum.

Dunham, director of Superintendent Services, held the forums for two days to give the community a chance to say what they want in their next superintendent.

"We fit with the community," he said. "We fit with what the community wants."

For the 12 participants throughout Monday it was a superintendent to continue taking care of Clarkston Community Schools best qualities and tackling class sizes, balanced spending between programs and personnel and future changes.

The challenges for the new superintendent were also noted especially changes to the budget and economic and social structure in the community.

"It's all about money," said Dawn Schaller, a concerned parent. "I don't foresee serious declines in the student populations but the district needs to figure out if it can continue some of the expensive programs they have in place currently."

Along with the responses he received from Monday and Tuesday's forums and the online survey - he will bring all of them to the Board of Education on Thursday night, during their meeting.

He noted any repeats in thoughts are tallied and put on the top based on how many people said them.

Next, Dunham works on a profile for Clarkston Community Schools, a composite of what the Board of Education wants and the community.

Dunham sat down with the board on July 6 with a composite of what all the members wanted. Included were a doctorate degree in education and have experience as a superintendent or deputy superintendent.

They also discussed the amount to set the salary.

"We already have a base salary of 150,000," said Trustee Barry Bomier. "If we were to publicize anything less candidates would step back and ask questions. The average in Oakland County is $161,000."

Secretary Joan Patterson didn't want to put a value on the position just yet.

"I hate giving it a value when I don't know how they work in the district," said Patterson. "It's not about money. We still have teachers apply because of what we have here. I want someone who cares about Clarkston and cares about the people - not the dollar value."

The board decided to keep it between $155,000 to $165,000 and base it on experience and education.

"I am very comfortable basing the salary on education and experience. We are not bound by it," said President Steve Hyer.

Dunham agreed.

"We are putting together the brochure to go with the district profile. It is not locking you into anything at this point," he added.

The board also went through the characteristics and skills they want in their next superintendent.

If during the process the board and community differ in opinion, Dunham will work on a balance and a compromise in the middle.

When the profile is agreed on it goes into the MASB database and will match with more applicants already in their system.

The profile is not published, to keep applicants from skewing information towards a district's wants.

The board will decide on six candidates on August 16 and plan to interview August 23 and 24. Dunham noted if there is enough time during the interviews, the board will pose questions from the community. They are given to the board before the interviews begin. The community is also given a chance to share their opinion on the candidates with the board. The board decides on the top two candidates on August 25 and has site visits planned for September.

All meetings are open to the public.

The Board of Education meeting on Thursday begins at 5 p.m. at 6389 Clarkston Road.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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