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Two community forums to be held for superintendent search

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Sep 24, 2021

Another opportunity for the public to provide input in what they hope the next superintendent will posses, will be held in the format of two community forums next week.

Ray and Associates, the firm hired to help with the superintendent search, President Michael Collins said they are doing forums with multiple individual groups to gather information, such as internal, teacher, classified, principals, administrators, cabinet, students and the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools.

“Those vast majority will be done on Zoom and only for groups that are invited,” he said.

With the community forums, it provides parents with the opportunity to also join in on the conversation. Collins said there are close to 20 groups they will be gathering input from.

Ray and Associates will be conducting the forums and compiling the information from the public for the school board. There are eight questions Ray and Associates will ask every group, which are research based.

“The whole purpose of this is to legitimately collect community, parent, staff and student input in terms of developing the profile. It’s really about a structured framework to build the design of what is being looked for,” he explained of what Lee County is looking for in their next superintendent. “Our people are skilled facilitators. Everyone is going to be asked the same questions. It is not a time for editorializing. We want the responses to these questions.”

The profile of what Lee County is seeking in its next superintendent is what will be sent out around the country, Collins explained.

The superintendent community forums will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 27, and 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, both at the Lee County Public Education Center Board Room, 2855 Colonial Blvd. For those who cannot attend in person have the opportunity view the forum through its live stream on the district’s YouTube channel, www.YouTube.com/LeeSChoolsTV .

“We are trying to make it as easy as possible and keep everyone informed on our website. It’s really important to have the community’s input when making a decision,” Board member Mary Fischer said. “I think the community is impacted because our public education is the economic driver for this community. It’s important for us to also consider the ideas and the needs of not only the children and families, but also of our very supportive business community.”

She said the community forums are a way for the board to be completely inclusive and transparent through the process of hiring a new superintendent. The forums, Fischer said will help in receiving the best input from the community that they can use when making the decision for a new superintendent.

“The board is very sincere in wanting it, looking at it, and listening to it,” Collins said of the feedback.

The themes that are collected will be broken down into the various focus for the school board to review.

The community still has the opportunity to share their insights for the superintendent’s survey, at www.surveymonkey.com/r/VS3NWT7, which is open until 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 7.

Collins said they are also collecting input from the online survey, which asks individuals to choose to of their most important quality of a successful superintendent out of 31 characteristics. The survey includes an open comment section, a place where individuals can express their thoughts.

“There are already over 5,000 responses from the community. Your response level in percentage wise is very good,” he said, adding that if they get more than 6,000, closer to 7,000 it would be a great showing.”

Collins said the survey is a great informal poll of the community’s thoughts.