To the Next Superintendent

As the new superintendent is selected, students pitch in on what they believe should be changed and how the school could be better

Late last school year, the superintendent of the Greater Albany Public School District was removed for gross insubordination, neglect of duty, and vulgar language. In his absence, the school board has been working tirelessly to find a superintendent who will make the system better for everyone.

July 1, the new superintendent will take the position and assume responsibilities. While the search process is just beginning and we will not know who the superintendent is until at least April, the future superintendent will go through a rigorous interview process which includes the initial interview, recruitment, presentations, and then two more rounds of school board interviews. This process includes votes from community members who have been approved by the board—this even includes three high school students, including one from West Albany. The stakeholder group, who will be the ones voting, will be officially chosen on March 22.

The new superintendent will have a lot of work to do as soon as this person assumes responsibility, as the district has an accountability plan to make sure the superintendent doesn’t fall through on assigned duties. This plan has three main goals—provide students with new learning experiences that are challenging and motivating, teach positive character traits so kids will have good behavior in school and go beyond only helping themselves, and involve the community in the school.

The talk of a new superintendent has people both scared and excited as new leadership means new rules and policies. As students, most want the same thing out of a superintendent— to be heard. Although the disconnect problem between students and their administration is big, it may not be as wide as it seems.

We believe the superintendent must do several things to work effectively for the new district. First off, the candidate must be present and vocal in the school. Not only should the new superintendent visit and see how the changes made are affecting students, this person should actually get up and tell the students why certain decisions have been made, and talk about how it could possibly help.

Next, the candidate should have some sort of teaching background. The next superintendent must have experience in teaching; that way this person will know what will help students and teachers the most, versus making decisions that could harm the way a classroom runs. The candidate should also have good communication with teachers. Teachers sometimes feel as if they don’t have enough time to teach material or aren’t always happy with changes that the school board decides to make. This problem is easily fixed with meetings and communication—that way teachers have a say in what’s going on around them.

Not only should the candidate be informed, but this person should also not be afraid to make big changes. Out of a survey of 77 students asking on a scale of one to five how involved they believed the school board was, only three reported a five, while most reported their involvement being a three. This needs to change. The majority of high school students should feel that the school board cares and is involved, so not only should the superintendent not be afraid to make big changes, but the superintendent will need to be at the school at some point.

While the new superintendent will be chosen soon, many students will not know how to contact this official or even know who was elected. The problem seems huge because the gap between the district leaders and the school itself feels huge. In reality though, there are many ways to contact the school board and have these ideas heard. The first and easiest way would be to go to school board meeting, which occur on Mondays every other week.

This isn’t an extreme solution and it’s very viable since the school board has open forums where they are practically inviting students to come complain. Not only do they hold forums for students, but if parents or teachers even have problems with the schools, then they can also attend.

Alternatively, students can talk to the ASB School Board representative, Patrick Spence, who will be in his position until an election March 22. For those with concerns about West Albany specifically, the suggestion box is a great tool. Site council representatives, Megan Cox and Bekah Kenney, who will also be serving until the next election, take the suggestions and bring them to a group of West Albany administration. These two then will post the responses on the board above the box.       

All in all, West does a good job in hearing out its students, and this publication believes that the district does also. The students just need to take it into their own hands instead of expecting the problem to fix itself, or waiting for someone else to speak up for them. We look forward to a continued good relationship between the students, school board, and future superintendent, and think the district is in good hands in the coming years.