The Superintendent Search Survey

Hoover parents and school employees have until February 6 to complete the survey created by New South Research, at a cost of $7,200, to gather opinions on what qualities are wanted in  and what priorities should be focused on by a superintendent.

Community members hoping to be surveyed will have to wait on a phone call.

Taking a peek through the survey, I couldn’t help but notice the leading questions within the survey. And the glaring omissions.

First the omissions:

Liz Wallace, former Hoover Parent Teacher Council president and current Hoover resident, shared this on her Facebook page (I placed the red box and arrow into the image for this post):

“This is a page [page 3] from the Community Survey that Hoover City Schools has commissioned to get input about the experience, skills, and priorities we would like to see in our next Superintendent. I find it disturbing that while the characteristic of ‘maintaining quality athletic programs’ is on the survey, ‘maintaining quality fine arts programs’ is nowhere. The applicants for the position will have no way of knowing the desires of the stakeholders with regard to the fine arts, because there is not even a place to write it in on the survey.

This school system produces award-winning and nationally recognized musicians, singers, actors, artists, sculptors, and dancers. Students put hours and hours of hard work into those endeavors, and dozens upon dozens continue those studies in college and beyond. Shouldn’t quality fine arts programs rank a mention on the survey?”

Great question, Liz. So the arts didn’t even rank a separate mention.

Next, the leading questions.

How did “managing transportation cost” even get added to the survey? Didn’t former Superintendent Andy Craig tell us that money was no longer a problem in Hoover schools?

From this November 20, 2014, al.com article:

The Hoover school system’s overall fund balance stands at about $90 million, which is 7 1/2 times the amount recommended by the state, Craig said. “We’ve got a very strong position.”

What about managing supplement costs (that rise exponentially every year as a percentage of an ever-increasing step-raise for teachers) or managing consultant costs (like the consultants hired to search for the superintendent) or managing technology costs?

Why pick on transportation?

Look a few lines down in that same image to find “Rezoning to maximize resources”….what does that even mean? When was rezoning about maximizing resources? Didn’t Craig tell the community that rezoning was about dispersing minority children throughout the community to avoid an intervention by the “Justice Department”?

From the “Student Reassignment Plan Proposal”:

The current realignment and rezoning process is therefore seen as an opportunity to rebalance the student composition of Hoover’s schools, not merely because this is a compulsory external requirement, but also because it supports the Hoover Schools community’s values related to diversity and positioning all schools and all students to be successful. By embarking on the realignment planning process now, Hoover City Schools has the opportunity to “do it right”, to be proactive, and to afford itself and its constituent families as much time as possible to prepare for plan implementation. When done properly, as we have sought to do, rezoning can be characterized as “preventative maintenance”. Realigning student population before schools become overcrowded or segregated is akin to rotating and balancing the tires of one’s car. Doing so addresses uneven wear and prolongs the life of the tires, protecting one’s investment. To extend the metaphor, proactive and periodic tire maintenance may also prevent a catastrophic blow-out (the equivalent of running out of room for students or facing Justice Department intervention). (page 4 of this document)

[The tire-rotation and -balance metaphor is still perplexing. Children are akin to tires on a car?]

And how can you not find irony in the ordering of items, with “maintaining a culture of trust” listed just above “managing transportation cost”?

Were the Superintendent and the Board working to “maintain a culture of trust” when they eliminated buses in the middle of the summer, without announcing it or asking for community input?

The Full Survey

Here’s the full survey, captured from screenshots.

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