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District seeks input on administrator search

Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com School District of Superior Superintendent Janna Stevens talks during the groundbreaking at Cooper Elementary School in this photograph from April 2017.

The Superior School Board is looking for public guidance in its search for a new district administrator.

District Administrator Janna Stevens is retiring June 30. She's held the district's top administrative seat since July 2009.

"It's been a pleasure to work with Janna," said School Board President Len Albrecht, and she's helped take the district to the next level.

Under her watch, the NBC Spartan Sports Complex was built and voters approved a $92.5 million referendum to replace Cooper Elementary School and renovate Superior High School. Stevens has been a great communicator, especially with labor management.

"It's been a really nice working relationship," Albrecht said.

A survey released Monday asks respondents to rank what expertise, leadership style, personal characteristics and skills they'd like to see in the new administrator. Those who fill out the survey are also asked to list the district's top strengths and biggest challenges.

"As a board, we're trying to get as much input from everyone as we can," Albrecht said. "We make the ultimate decision, but we want as much input as we can."

He encouraged anyone connected with the district to make their voice heard.

"Be honest," Albrecht said.

The district has tapped the Wisconsin Association of School Boards for help with the search. The WASB created the survey and conducted focus groups in early December to see what stakeholders — administrators, teachers, students, community leaders and board members — are looking for in an administrator.

From those focus groups, a picture has already emerged — someone who will be an advocate for children, a good communicator, a good listener; someone who will be involved, visible and approachable in schools and the community.

Someone who can work with all the teachers and staff is also key, Albrecht said.

Sara Schubert-McKone, a district parent, filled out the survey two minutes after she received a link to it. She has never met Stevens and doesn't know the extent of her duties.

She would like to see a district administrator who is involved in school activities, shows up for events, attends a few PTA meetings, introduces themselves and shakes hands.

"I think it's important for us to know who these people are, put a face to a name and feel comfortable approaching them," said Schubert-McKone, president of the Superior Area PTA Council.

She felt the survey was generic and offered too many choices, and too little explanation, for some of the questions.

"I don't know if people will really understand what they're selecting," Shubert-McKone said.

But she couldn't think of a better way to gauge the public's input.

"I feel it's a good effort," Schubert-McKone said.

Albrecht said that survey results will be added to the emerging picture provided by focus groups.

"Everybody's opinion is going to have influence," he said. "We want people's feedback."

Resumes for the position will be vetted through the WASB, Albrecht said, and all completed resumes will move on to the School Board for consideration.

Once the candidate field is narrowed down, a final interview process will take place. Albrecht said the board will be seeking input from the community at that point as well, although the exact process has yet to be determined.

The board plans to hire a new district administrator in early March.

The survey launched Monday and ends Jan. 19. Visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/SuperiorCommSurvey to complete it.

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