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Photo by Jessa Pease.
Stakeholders complete AASB survey
Stakeholders complete a survey for AASB.
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Photo by Jessa Pease.
Dr. Kendy Behrends
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Photo by Jessa Pease.
Parents and community members voiced their opinions concerning the Hoover Board of Education’s superintendent search at a stakeholder meeting Feb. 3.
The Alabama Association of School Boards’ (AASB), the research firm aiding the board, held a series of stakeholder sessions designed to gain data before the position for Hoover City Schools’ new superintendent is posted for applicants.
The budget deficit, a greater need for communication between the board and the Hoover City Council, catering more to struggling students and a greater focus on the fine arts were all concerns addressed in the first meeting, which was centered on parents and the community. Dr. Kendy Behrands, the primary finder consultant assigned to Hoover City Schools, was there to gauge input.
Sean Womack, a resident with children attending Greystone Elementary, criticized NewSouth’s online survey, stating that it leaves off many important issues and that it leads people in its questioning.
“It certainly leaves off opportunities for the community to provide feedback for things that we see fit,” Womack said. “For me, personally, the lack of attention to fine arts [stood out].”
His concern was seconded by many people in attendance, especially when he said that Hoover City Schools should put as much focus on all its programs as it does to Hoover football. Womack also called attention to the successful art scene at Spain Park and Hoover, but they have no fine arts facility to support the arts. He referenced districts such as Homewood and Mountain Brook, saying those communities have an excellent football program, but they also have performing arts centers.
“I had heard that it was a concern from the survey and from what’s been developed and not developed,” Behrends said. “I think it’s a point well taken…That definitely needs to be an interview question that comes up with these candidates because one of the greatest challenges as a superintendent is juggling and making sure that all students are fostered.”
She added that Hoover has the resources to be the best in all categories, and she believes this is something they should address with the board.
Trisha Crain and Monica Dobbins touched on the students in Hoover who live in apartment complexes. Crain went as far to say that the board and teachers resent those students who live in apartments. She said she fears that the people who live in multi-unit dwellings aren’t heard within Hoover City Schools.
Dobbins voiced that she hopes to see AASB really look for more diverse candidates for the position.
“I’d like to know that the AASB is not just encouraging minority candidates to apply, but is actively recruiting them,” she said. “I think more effort than usual will be necessary to locate, specifically, minority candidates not only for the school system, but for our city.”
To Womack, the lack of communication between the Hoover Board of Education and the Hoover City Council seemed to be the root of many of the issues residents touched on.
“I think when you really get down to it and you really sort it out, those issues are because the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing,” he said. “We’re not communicating together, like you said, for the betterment of the community. It’s just not happening.”
Behrends said that one of her recommendations to the new superintendent, after the meeting today, will be to have quarterly luncheons with the city council. It’s something that keeps the communication flowing, and it’s something she did when she served as superintendent in Florence, Ala.
“It sound like conversations will need to take place with the new person and the people who are seated in leadership positions,” she said.
In addition to the online survey that can be found on the Hoover City Schools website, Behrends had everyone at the stakeholder meetings fill out a survey of her own.
Behrends will analyze the data collected from both the online and written surveys. She will look for common patterns and themes to find the comments that are most often mentioned. That information will be part of a report she will present to the board Feb. 10.
“I just want you to know that we come at this from various angles to try to get a picture of what you are looking for, where you want to go and what you perceive the challenges to be in this district,” she said. “That’s what the board wants to see too.”
The information will be used during the screening process while AASB is searching for a pool of candidates that meet the specific needs of Hoover City Schools. She will also determine other qualifications from the board Feb. 10 such as if a doctorate is preferred or required, if the person will need to live in the district, where their children must go to school and what their base salary or salary range would be.
The advertisement for the job will be posted around Feb. 17.