As Rochester Public Schools searches for an interim superintendent, those living within the district have made it clear what qualities they would like to see in the leader: someone honest and ethical who knows how to communicate well and will focus on student learning.
The Rochester School Board reviewed the results of a survey that asked people to identify things such as what personality traits they would like in a leader, as well as things that are important to know about the district, both good and bad.
Barb Dorn from the Minnesota School Boards Association praised the amount of feedback the public provided as she went over the results with the board on Friday.
"You had a phenomenal response: 899 stakeholders responded to this survey over the course of 10 days," she said, noting that more than 1% of the respondents were students. "I always think it's encouraging when there is student participation in the survey. Very often, we see zero percent from the students. So I thought it was wonderful that at RPS, the students participated in this survey."
Of those who responded to the survey, 64.22% were parents. The second largest group of respondents, 28.54%, were staff members.
The district's current superintendent, Michael Muñoz, is set to resign June. 30. The School Board decided to search for an interim superintendent to allow more time for finding a permanent replacement. The length of the interim's contract is expected to last for one year.
The respondents were asked to name "the top five desirable areas of expertise" they would want in a superintendent. Their top responses, in descending order of importance, were: student learning, collaborative leadership, strategic planning and growth, community and parent/caregiver engagement, and budget and finance.
They also were asked to name the "top five personal characteristics" they would want in a superintendent. They were: honest and ethical, effective communicator, problem solver, approachable and personable, and transparent.
The survey then asked respondents to reply to the following questions:
- What is important for the interim superintendent to know about positive things taking place in the Rochester Public School District?
What is important for the interim superintendent to know about challenges facing the Rochester Public School District?
What is important for the interim superintendent to know about the students and staff of the Rochester Public School District?
What is important for the interim superintendent to know about the community in which the Rochester Public School District is located?
The questions prompted responses about everything from the high quality of the staff in the district, to the need for more transparency and trust, to concerns about too much growth and overcrowding.
Finally, the survey provided a chance for respondents to offer any additional thoughts.
"When you look at the final comments people offered, I think that this statement captures it all: 'The Rochester community desires that the interim superintendent have superior leadership skills that will help them collaborate and communicate with stakeholders, be a visionary, and be visible in the district,'" Dorn said. "Those four things: communicate, collaborate, vision and visible. When people were asked 'What else do you want to say?' those were the things that emerged from their comments."