(Philadelphia Tribune photo)
By Chanel Hill
PHILADELPHIA — Nearly 6,000 people weighed in on what they want the qualities to be for the next School District of Philadelphia superintendent.
Among the qualities listed were: A coalition builder committed to transparency, effective communication, and setting the benchmarks for Philadelphia students to compete in a global society and a person with a track record of listening to, engaging with and working alongside diverse communities in an urban setting.
Respondents also said they wanted a superintendent who is an effective communicator who is committed to transparency.
The findings were recently released by the Board of Education community engagement report, which detailed feedback from residents during 48 public listening sessions and surveys in October and November on what they desire in the next superintendent.
Superintendent William Hite announced in September that he will not renew his contract at the end of the 2021-22 school year after 10 years of service.
“The Board made it clear from day one that our first formal activity would be to engage all Philadelphians in this process,” Board president Joyce Wilkerson said in a statement.
“This community engagement report highlights the outcomes of that first step, with the additional context of how far the School District has come and the work that still needs to be done,” she added.
The report included feedback from Philadelphia parents and guardians, students, teachers, school district employees and community members.
Of the participants, 25.23% were parents or guardians, 22.98% were teachers, 18.46% were district staff and 11.31% were students. Over half of the participants self-identified as Black, Hispanic or Latino, Asian-American, Pacific Islander or multiracial.
Since the process started, the board worked with 53 community organizations to host or participate in the surveys including the Urban League of Philadelphia, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, People’s Emergency Center, CAIR-Philadelphia, and The Office of Immigrant Affairs.
Board vice president Leticia Egea-Hinton said she appreciated everyone who participated in the surveys and listening sessions.
“Thank you to every Philadelphian that joined us at schools, in their neighborhood, or invited us into their homes via Zoom to make their voices heard during the first phase of this superintendent search,” Egea-Hinton said in a statement.
“The Board would not have been able to conduct the first phase of the superintendent search without the support of our partner organizations and agencies — each driven by their missions for a better Philadelphia,” she said.
“They each provided us with a communications pipeline to the constituents they serve and the communities that trust them in order to ensure the Board had as many diverse voices as possible invited into this process,” Egea-Hinton added.
Isaacson Miller, the search firm hired by the school board, will use the public input to develop a job description for a new superintendent. The description will be released Friday.
On Tuesday, the board will announce an 11-member advisory committee that will interview the final candidates for the job.
Interviews are set to begin at the beginning of 2022 with the board hoping to make an announcement of the new superintendent early next spring.
Chanel Hill is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared.
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