What Tukwila wants in a new school superintendent

Information gathered from administrators, certificated staff and community members pinpoints a commitment to Tukwila as the most desirable characteristic wanted in the new superintendent, according to a consultant’s report.

“It is clear that turnover, inconsistency in tone and substance, and changes in direction affect the thinking, performance, and ‘feel’ of the district for many,” the report states. “The desire for superintendent commitment and the ability to persist effectively in the role is very high among both certificated and classified staff, and the need for this is clear to others.”

The characteristics gathered by Hazard, Young, Attea, and Associates consulting group were added as an update to the existing administrative profile and job description now available to applicants for the new Tukwila School District superintendent.

The application period will remain open until the end of February. From there, the school board will select candidates to visit the district and interview with board members. The board hopes to choose a new superintendent by April 1. He or she will officially begin work in July.

Among the applicants is Mellody Matthes, the district’s interim superintendent. Matthes recently applied for the superintendent position with the South Kitsap School District but said she did not get the job.

Complied into a 40-page report were both strengths and challenges the district faces, including language barriers, financial issues, high school graduation rates, and cultural barriers.

To address these and other concerns, district stakeholders who offered their opinions via focus groups, discussions, and surveys listed 13 main attributes they would like to see in the next superintendent, all of which were discussed in depth in the report.

Amongst the board of directors, high school improvement, strong communication skills, appreciation of diversity and trust-building were mentioned the most.

From the online survey, the top-rated characteristic was to “foster a positive professional climate of mutual trust and respect among faculty, staff, and administrators.”

One anonymous administrator expressed concerns about a lack of professionalism when it came to managing the school board.

“Our current board operates significantly outside of the parameters outlined in state law,” the administrator wrote. “In many respects, the board is completely out of control . . . until these issues are corrected, it is unlikely that significant positive changes can be affected that will improve the culture and with that, instruction and academic achievement.”

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