The East Chicago and Valparaiso school boards are looking for new school superintendents. The board members must do their homework well on this.
East Chicago School Board President Jesse Gomez said a team of university professors has been hired to sift through the candidates. The search team will conduct interviews and focus groups to understand the needs of the district, then use those perceived needs to identify the strongest candidate.
The process will take four or five months, Gomez said.
East Chicago has a head start on the Valparaiso School Board, which found out only recently that Superintendent Mike Berta plans to return to retirement.
Both school boards should be aggressive in getting feedback from the public on the districts' needs.
Hiring a new superintendent offers a good opportunity to determine what's going well and what challenges face the district.
East Chicago, for example, faces declining enrollment as a result of competition from charter schools. Like other urban areas, it also faces numerous challenges related to poverty.
Valparaiso doesn't have as much poverty, but it does face building needs that are still in the early discussion stages.
The university search team will assist the East Chicago School Board, and perhaps Valparaiso as well, but that doesn't absolve the School Board members from responsibility.
Board members must thoroughly investigate the finalists' backgrounds to get superintendents who deliver solid results and have the right people skills for that particular job.
Check the references offered, of course, but also reach out to others in the finalists' communities to see how people there perceive the candidates' performance.
This is a key position, so a careful search is needed.