Categorized | Commentary

It’s time to focus on the school district

Posted on 21 July 2016 by La Habra Journal

As was reported last issue, Dr. Susan Belenardo will be retiring from the La Habra City School District. This comes at a time where there is a vacant seat on the school board and an election for that vacant seat and another seat looming.
This is worth noting because it is the elected school board that hires the district superintendent.
There has been a lot of talk and questions concerning the process in which to select the new superintendent for the La Habra City School District. Much speculation and guessing has gone on since her retirement was announced.
This concern and enthusiasm for the next top administrator for the district probably comes from parents and concerned citizens who, like most in education, want what’s best for the children.
With this in mind, it’s important to note that there has been a history of unease with the district.  A challenging strike by the teachers for a livable contract and concerns from parents regarding low test scores.
The next step in the process will be for the board to appoint an interim superintendent.  The interim can be from within the district or outside of the district.  They will also advertise the position. According to the current  board chair, John Dobson, No permanent superintendent will be hired until the new board has been elected and seated, which means spring 2017.
This means the interim superintendent will be in place at the beginning of the school year and into the spring. (Interestingly enough, this will mark the first time that neither school district in La Habra will start the school year without permanent superintendents manning the helm.)
It also means that the election this November will play a major role in the future of the La Habra City School District. Whoever runs and whomever is elected will have a say in the process and hiring of the next superintendent.
The board and the new full board have a large task ahead of them and something that should not be taken lightly and should not be rushed.
With the shadows of the past, it will be important for the board to conduct a hiring process that is inclusive of all parties involved.  The board has said that it will be seeking the services of outside companies to help find strong candidates.
Once the candidates are collected, the board should have a committee established that will include teachers, classified employees and community members to review the applications and determine who will be named as the finalists.  Then those will be sent to the board to interview and make a selection.
A suggested committee could be made up of the following: one classified, two teachers, two committee members.
This five person committee would be able to screen the applications and then come up with a handful of candidates that the new board will be able to interview them and then select the best person for the position.
It is vital to the district employees and the community that the board makes this process inclusive and with visible and sincere consideration of the candidates.
It is also important for all those who have expressed concern about the district and the selection of the future superintendent to voice their thoughts and concern to the district.
We as a community need to help do our part to ensure that we do the best that we can for our children and their education.
Take the time to see the candidates for school board and look for opportunities to help the district.

—The Editor

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