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Expertise wanted in school chief

July 21, 2010 - The lights flickered at the Clarkston Community Schools Administration Building on Thursday, as Richard Dunham spoke.

Finally the storm outside won the battle and the room went dark. That didn't stop the Board of Education from shedding light on what residents want in their next superintendent.

Dunham, director of superintendent services at Michigan Association of School Boards, had good news for the board and the job profile they created on July 8. He presented what the community said during two public forums, July 12 and 13, and the results from the online survey.

The community and board were along the same lines of what they wanted in their next superintendent.

All groups in the community agreed with the board they wanted applicants to have a doctorate along withan assistant superintendent. The community would prefer a minimum experience as an assistant.

Both remained close in ranking the areas of expertise in the online survey - the board rated budget development/management as a two and the community saw it as the high priority at a one. The top expertise for the board was curriculum development and evaluation at a one and the community saw it as a two. Both had personnel management at "three."

They differed in public relations and communication, the community seeing it as a "four" and the board, "five." The community rated contract negotiation as a "five" and the board saw it as a higher priority, at "four."

Both chose contract administration as a "six."

"It is the first time I have ever seen the community and board so close," said Dunham.

He was also intrigued by answers he received for the write-in questions from the 78 people who took the survey and the viewpoints he heard during community forums.

Traits the community wanted included, being visible in the community, a good listener and a good communicator, a problems solver, a team builder and relationship builder, a local advocate and honesty.

The biggest challenges the community sees is funding a big task for the next superintendent. Interim superintendent David Reschke agreed.

"They need to be very knowledgeable about funding locally and in the state of Michigan and how it works," he said. "They also need know about finance."

More challenges for the incoming superintendent is sustaining programs and the quality of education during tough financial times while creating and maintaining trust with the community.

Reschke also noted the future superintendent needs to be open and sincere about liking Clarkston and be invested in the community traits the community also shared.

Normally, Dunham closes the online survey after he has shared it with the board. This time, he suggested keeping it on the website until the new superintendent is hired.

"I would like to keep it open to continue collecting information," he said, explaining it would help the board and himself develop questions for the interviews.

To take the survey, go to www.clarkston.k12.mi.us. The next meeting with Dunham is Aug. 16. They will announce which candidates they will interview for Aug. 23-25. past experience to include being

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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