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Ideal Candidate for School Superintendent Takes Shape at Community Forum

Consultants plan to use the feedback to bring in candidates who are a good match for the district's strengths and challenges

The Santa Barbara School District held two public forums Monday night to get community input on its superintendent search.

At San Marcos High School, parents and community members compiled a list of strengths and challenges the district faces for the next five years.

School board members weren’t allowed to attend the meetings to allow people to speak freely. There was a small turnout of a dozen people, but the online survey is available until March 25, and any interested parties can use it to provide input. Click here to participate in the survey.

There was a simultaneous meeting held at Santa Barbara Junior High School, primarily for Spanish speakers.

Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates consultants Carolyn McKennan and Rudy Castruita said they’ll work to bring qualified candidates to the board who are a good match for the district.

Parents said the district has a huge range of opportunities and choices for students with intra-district transfers, sports teams, programs and various academies. They also praised the involvement and investment in schools by the community, parents, businesses, foundations and UCSB.

As challenges go, it was a longer list.

The parents in attendance stressed the need for accountability and transparency, saying a lack of responsiveness over time caused mistrust of the district. They said academic challenges range from low proficiency scores in elementary schools to the Latino student achievement gap, but most of the issues mentioned Monday night were about the relationships between the superintendent and everyone else.

Parents and community members said communication needs to be improved on all levels — within the district office, with sites and with the community — and a culture change to an inclusive, collaborative decision-making process would be ideal.

The new superintendent also will struggle with balancing the budget, dealing with gang problems in secondary schools and coordinating among Santa Barbara, Goleta and the county since the district spans such a wide area.

Those in attendance said an ideal candidate would be self-confident and want to take on the school district’s challenges.

The list of characteristics at the end of the forum included having an inclusion philosophy, willing to work past 5 p.m., putting together a strong leadership team and being able to unify the community.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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