The public will have the first chance to hear from the three Lafayette Parish school superintendent finalists Wednesday evening.
The interviews of Donald Aguillard, Carlos Sam and Francis Touchet are slated to take place in public, starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Lafayette Parish School Board office. Each interview is expected to last about an hour and 20 minutes, said School Board Vice President Dawn Morris.
Late Tuesday morning, the agenda was amended to allow the board to name a superintendent Wednesday, if it chooses to do so.
“I think we want to make sure the agenda is written in such a way that we have all the options available,” Morris said. “There’s no guarantee a decision will be made tomorrow, but the option is there if the board chooses to do so.”
So, what qualities should the board look for in making its selection? Here’s what some of our readers said:
“I would hope that our new superintendent would begin by empowering and affirming classroom teachers and making them feel important. It is a truism that the teacher is the most important factor to the success of students. Teachers and their professional organizations have lost much of their voice in the parish decision making … This problem can be easily rectified, and should be a priority … We know that teachers in certain areas like special education, math and science are in short supply, and this sad trend must be addressed … Our new superintendent needs his heart in the heart of the system — the classroom.”
Linda Carney LeBlanc
“It would help for him to sit down and talk to teachers that have retired in the last three years to find out why they retired. Many of us left not because of our age, but because we are fed up with a broken system. Until the new superintendent investigates what really happened it will be the same old, same old. I wouldn’t let my worst enemy pursue a degree in education. I will talk to him. Call me.”
“The next superintendent cannot threaten to hunt down and fire any teacher who voices concerns about his educational plans. The next superintendent cannot prevaricate over and over and over again. The next superintendent must believe in the concept of power with others and not in the concept of power over others.”
“One of the first rules of good management is to evaluate what’s in place that’s working and what’s not. I fear that one of the first interview questions is to present their plan (of attack.) Cooper destroyed many programs that were working and replaced them with marginal initiatives right off the bat. Let’s hope and pray that this new board sees that having someone come in with a full ‘plan’ without evaluating what is working and how money is being spent is counter-productive.”
“We need local superintendent (sic) that knows the culture of Lafayette parish schools.”
Morris said each candidate will have 10 minutes for opening comments. Board members will then spend the next 45 minutes asking each candidate the same set of questions. The next 15 minutes will be set aside for any questions specific to that candidate.
“That will be for any questions a board member might have that is prompted by a response to the common questions,” Morris said. “That slot is for more open-ended type questions.”
Each finalist will then be given 10 minutes for a closing presentation.
The interview order will be determined by a random selection.
Morris said the list of common questions was still in progress Tuesday morning, although it is expected to include issues such as the district-wide turnaround plan, addressing low-performing schools and budgetary matters.
“I think it’s going to be pretty much questions you would expect,” she said. “I don’t think any of the questions will really be a surprise to anyone.”
Earlier Tuesday, the board added an item to Wednesday’s agenda for a potential executive session to discuss applicants’ professional competency and work history. Morris said that was done at the advice of attorneys as as precaution.
“That was done in case something arose that we would need to discuss about those individuals that would constitute a personnel issue,” Morris said. “I don’t really anticipate needing it. It was done to make sure we gave the required 24-hour notice in case something came up.”
WANT TO GO?
The Lafayette Parish School Board will interview superintendent finalists beginning at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The interviews will be at the school system office, 113 Chaplin Drive.
For live updates from the meeting, follow reporter Amanda McElfresh on Twitter, @TDAMcElfresh.