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USD 489 launches focus group meetings

11/5/2013

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Focus group meetings to give input into the Hays USD 489 Board of Education's search for a new superintendent had different titles, but many of their suggestions were similar.

Groups meeting Monday included the facilities needs committee, administrators, elementary teachers and community members.

Other staff members, secondary teachers and site councils and home and school groups have meetings scheduled today.

The groups were facilitated by Max Heim and Gary Sechrist from the Kansas Association of School Boards. The board hired KASB to conduct the superintendent search.

No board members attended the focus group sessions.

Each focus group discussed qualities and qualifications a superintendent should have, as well as the school district's strengths and needs.

Integrity, good communication and honesty were common among all the lists of qualities.

Strengths varied but included high academic achievement, well-qualified teachers and a safe community.

District needs listed included transparency and additional staff -- nurses, counselors, paraprofessionals and school psychologists.

After all of the groups have met, a complete list will be compiled, and Heim will meet with the board at Monday's work session to discuss it.

Of the 286 school districts in Kansas, all but one district are KASB members.

"It gives us a pretty good look at the candidates," Heim said.

Last year, there were 45 new superintendents, and so far this year, there are four openings.

This is a good time to begin a search, Heim said.

However, he warned there is a shortage of candidates, so it's hard to predict how many might apply.