Johnstown Independent

Superintendent search

Top priorities: leadership, communication and vision

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Northridge Board of Education member Doug Hart said he looks forward to discussing the community and staff members' preferences for qualities in a new superintendent.

Thus far, the 95 people who completed surveys Oct. 23 collectively said they want a superintendent with vision, communication skills and leadership qualities.

Residents and employees will have an opportunity to weigh in further during a special board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, in the high school media center.

"It's something the board needs to talk about," Hart said.

He said the results are in from two sessions at which district staffers and residents completed questionnaires regarding what they expect in the successor to former superintendent John Shepard, who resigned Sept. 14.

Shepard will remain with the district as educational operations consultant for the remainder of the term of his current contract, which expires July 31, 2013. Shepard will work mainly from home.

In the meantime, the district hired George Tombaugh, assistant superintendent of the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, as an interim superintendent. He is guiding the board through the hiring process and is managing the district administratively.

"We haven't discussed (replacing Shepard) as a board," Hart said.

He said the board has too much to discuss at this point to try to include the discussion in a regular board meeting, hence the special meeting.

Tombaugh provided forms to those who had attended the Oct. 23 community meeting, listing possible criteria that people expect a superintendent to possess. Staff members also completed the forms. He said a total of 95 people completed forms, and they were divided among 16 focus groups for discussion.

Tombaugh said he plans to provide the results of the forms to board members Nov. 5 and issue a related press release. Thus far, he said, the top three qualities expected in a new superintendent are leadership, communication and vision.

"I'll provide more specific findings from the survey when we meet next week," Tombaugh said.

Thus far, Hart said, he has been pleased with the transition from Shepard to Tombaugh, who was hired as interim on a per-diem rate of $425.

"It's been absolutely seamless," Hart said. "He brings a wealth of experience, and he understands the transition role. This guy isn't jockeying for a job."

He said Tombaugh has been helping the staff prepare students for the newly mandated third-grade reading guarantee, whereby third-graders must pass a reading test before advancing to the fourth grade.

Tombaugh said candidates for superintendent may apply until Nov. 16. Interviews will begin Nov. 26, and the board could vote to hire a new superintendent Dec. 17. The permanent superintendent should take over the position Jan. 14, 2013.

'Excellent' grade

With a superintendent search under way and the controversy over transporting some students to nonpublic schools, Hart said, Northridge managed to receive some comforting news: The district received an excellent rating on the state's report card.

"It's a testament to the whole staff," he said. "I couldn't be more pleased."

According to the Northridge website, the district met 24 of 26 indicators for the 2011-12 school year.

Tombaugh said the district showed improvements in 12 of the performance indicators over the previous year. Adequate yearly progress was not met, but the value-added standard was.

"Value-added means each student had a year's worth of (academic) growth on average," he said.

Tombaugh said the district has improved significantly in reading and math.

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