If you’d like to be the new superintendent of the Evanston/Skokie District 65 school system, there are certain qualifications that will help move your name to the top of the list.

Search consultant Alan E. Leis presented the results of his firm’s research to the school board Monday night after listening to some 253 representatives of the community, administration, parents, faculty, and student body, plus analyzing the results of an online survey that featured the opinions of 1,462 persons, 946 of whom were parents.

The new superintendent, he said, is expected to be both collaborative and decisive, with a strong presence and involvement in the community, highlighting and recognizing  school system strengths, and representing the best interest of the students.

Other attributes:

Fosters trust through both communication and personal commitment.

Possesses financial savvy with an understanding of school finances.

Is able to work collaboratively with the school board, the community, and city officials.

Has a strong educational vision of providing the best possible education for every child in the district.

Promotes high expectations for all students and staff.

Recruits, evaluates, and retains outstanding staff members.

Has experience with issues around diversity and bringing disparate groups together. In fact, Leis said the Evanston community is particularly proud of its diversity, which is recognized as both a strength and a challenge for the new schools chief.

In an interview after the meeting, Leis said his team was amazed at the disagreements there were among community members about educational issues, but how well the community respected those disagreements.

The new superintendent, he told the board, is expected to have a solid track record of partnerships and involvement with business and community organizations; demonstrates fairness, equity, ethics, and honesty; recognizes staff and student successes frequently; demonstrates creativity and risk-taking, where appropriate; and effectively builds teams, hires talented staff, and holds them accountable.

By their comments, the board appeared to accept the consultant’s report as a guideline for their evaluation of candidates for the position.

They spent some time discussing whether they should require the new superintendent to live in Evanston. Leis counseled against being too adamant about that, as the top candidate may have a child in the senior year at a nearby high school that would make it desirable for them to delay moving into the district right away.

While it’s fine to list that as something the board prefers, he said, they should remain flexible in weighing that requirement against other factors.

Leis promised to tweak his list of attributes to reflect the views expressed by board members and to present an edited list to them in the very near future.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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