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Bay School District planning superintendent search

Board wants effective communicator, among many traits

Dec. 16, 2013

Whitefish Bay — School district officials are in the early planning stages of a superintendent search.

Last week the School Board brainstormed possible qualifications and mulled a search firm report that helped officials pick a superintendent in 2010. In their discussion, board members emphasized traits like data literacy, the abilities of explaining complicated district matters to the School Board and dealing with state mandates.

Board President Pamela Woodard said in a separate interview that a timeline for the search has not yet been established by the School Board, but the discussion will continue at an upcoming Jan. 8 meeting.

After former superintendent Mary Gavigan resigned in May to head the southeastern Wisconsin region of the Cooperative Educational Service Agency, the School Board promoted Laura Myrah from the role of Teaching and Learning Director to Interim Superintendent and later filled the Teaching and Learning Director position. Myrah will be encouraged to apply when the board advertises the superintendent position, Woodard said.

Incorporated into the upcoming superintendent search will be a leadership profile created by consulting firm Hazard Young & Attea in 2010 as a part of the search that resulted in Gavigan's hiring. Board members agreed that, on the whole, the profile still matches what Whitefish Bay wants in a superintendent, but alongside some minor phrasing changes suggested a few new traits be considered.

Board member Jim Phillips said candidates should have a good understanding of student data and educational research, and should be able to communicate that understanding to the School Board.

"A lot of what's happening today is really trying to understand the research and numbers which drive the data," Phillips said. "It's not just emotional or parent reaction. It's trying to understand how we drive achievement. I think the board works best when given that background."

Board members also emphasized the effect state mandates have had on the district in recent years. The new superintendent needs to be able to navigate those changes, they said.

"We can't ignore that's a significant part of the job now," board member Anne Berleman Kearney said.

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