Desperately seeking supe

Looking to meet intelligent man or woman, tough but gentle, who likes long walks in Bidwell Park, budget meetings and public relations. Pet peeves include declining enrollment, closing schools and union discord. Me: school district just getting out of a long-term relationship. You: community-friendly and ready to take me away from all this.

The Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees on June 15 fine-tuned the wording in a brochure that will go out to potential superintendent candidates as part of a search orchestrated via a $23,000 contract with the California School Boards Association.

Trustees debated how to describe their ideal candidate—and just how much to tell applicants about the down side of being Chico schools’ new supe.

“My thought is that this is an advertisement. Typically in advertising you don’t point out the negatives of the product you’re trying to sell,” said Trustee Scott Huber, referring to the brochure’s mention of declining enrollment and the two schools the board voted to close. “I think there’s ample opportunity for them to figure that out without us putting it in our ad.”

Trustee Anthony Watts took a different view. “It speaks to the challenge of the position,” he said. “If we’re actively looking for someone who can change the situation, I think it’s important to state it.”

The references stayed in.

Jann Reed pointed out that, be the new supe male or female, candidates’ spouses will also be looking at the brochure, and it’s important to hit on the area’s natural beauty and cultural activities to help in “enticing someone to come to Chico.”

Reed also successfully suggested changing wording that Chico needs someone who “is forceful enough to run the school system.”

“I don’t want someone who leads by force,” said Reed, who agreed with Watts’ suggestions of the words “decisive” and “confident.”

The board also agreed that the new supe should work well with community members, including the media. “The press is here to scrutinize what public officials do,” Trustee Rick Rees warned. “It’s not always going to be positive, and it shouldn’t be.”

Del Alberti, of the CSBA’s Executive Search Services, used comments gathered during a Chico visit to draft the brochure, which is in the process of being printed.

Once Alberti recommends candidates, the board will interview them and winnow it down to two or three finalists who will then go before the nine-member Superintendent Selection Advisory Council.