School board sets community forums schedule to gather input on for superintendent hiring
Several community forums will be held next week so the Lee County School Board can reach out to the community for input on what characteristics the new superintendent should possess.
The board agreed during a workshop held in December that before they begin compiling a list of what the district is looking for in a new superintendent, they need to reach out to the community for input.
To garner that involvement, the board decided to hold forums in each district from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week. On Jan. 18 Board Member Jane Kuckel will hold a community forum at Estero High School, Board Chairman Thomas Scott will hold one at Lehigh Senior High School and Board Member Don Armstrong will hold one at Mariner High School. On Jan. 19 Vice Chairman Mary Fischer will hold a community forum at the Lee County Public Education Center. Fischer also will hold a forum at Cape Coral High School on Jan. 20 and Board Member Jeanne Dozier will hold one at Fort Myers High School.
Scott addressed how the community forums will be operated and structured: There will be an initial greeting and introduction to the forum, along with a Power Point presentation designed by Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Tihen to outline statistical information about the district.
“I think that is important to get it all out on the table before receiving input from the community,” Scott said. He said it is was important for all the board members to keep their opinions to themselves ititially so things are first generated from the audience.
He went on to explain that the “meat” of the program will allow the attendees to speak for two minutes at one of the two podiums that will be set up on opposite sides of the room.
“It’s about participation from the community,” Scott said. “I am hopeful there will be two long lines of people, so we can switch back and forth.”
Kuckel said that her only concern about having open microphones set up is it provides an opportunity for only the “really vocal” individuals to step forward and share their thoughts. She said to eliminate the dominance of vocal individuals they should provide a hand-out that entails various characteristics and qualities that a superintendent should have to receive a cross section of information from everyone who attends the meeting.
Tihen said they could provide a various characteristics to provide to those who attend the forum in a way that they would not lead people in a certain direction.
The tentative timeline established also included a Jan. 31 deadline for input so the board can consider all the information from the community before taking the next step of choosing a superintendent, advertising the position.
The school board has tentatively set June 1 as the hire date for a new superintendent and July 1 as the date he/she should start so as to be a part of next year’s budget process.