Austin ISD Offering $300,000 for New Superintendent

Candidate profile sets desirable qualities, lacks specifics

Wanted: New Austin ISD superintendent
Wanted: New Austin ISD superintendent

Fancy running Austin ISD? The district has released the candidate profile for the new superintendent. However, very quietly, the hiring process has been pushed back a month.

AISD hired search firm Ray and Associates to meet with stakeholders and citizens, to create a wish list of traits and skills that candidates should ideally exhibit. Those meetings, both public forums and smaller meetings with individuals and groups, ran through July.

Now the district has released its list of preferred qualities. However, they have also quietly made a change to the schedule. Originally, applications were to be made through Sept. 20, with a shortlist of between two and four candidates, selected by the board, to be introduced to the community through October and November. A final selection will be made by the new board after the Nov. 4 elections, with the aim of having the new superintendent in place before the next semester, and the start of the 84th legislative session. However, the vacancy listing from the district puts the closing date for applications at Oct. 20, pushing the whole process back by a month.

Top of the qualities and qualifications list is that any candidate must either hold the Texas Superintendency Certificate or be qualified to obtain it. That means, at minimum, either holding a Texas principal certificate, issued either by Texas or the equivalent issued by another state or country. However, after that, the skills are a little more generic and, arguably, self-apparent: Ability to lead a multi-ethnic district, trustworthy, good leader and communicator.

There are a couple of points that may be seen as reactions to the controversial and often divisive management style of former Superintendent Meria Carstarphen ("able to work cooperatively with the board and keeps members informed" and "demonstrates ability to work with the media"), but nothing too controversial. However, that may well disappoint some advocates: For example, District 6 trustee candidate Paul Saldana had openly called for a Hispanic candidate, while many have seen Spanish language skills as a must (and that would be proven skills: There is still frustration in many quarters that Carstarphen barely ever uttered a word of Spanish in public).

The headline number is that the successful applicant's salary will be "in the range of $300,000, plus an excellent comprehensive benefits package." That's a slight increase from Carstarphen's basic salary of $283,000 a year, plus benefits. However, it's less than the $375,000 she's now pulling in as the CEO of the embattled and scandal-wracked Atlanta Public Schools.

Here's the full list of candidate qualities:

• Possesses the leadership skills required to respond to the challenges presented by an ethnically and culturally diverse community.
• Is strongly committed to a "student first" philosophy in all decisions.
• Inspires trust, has high levels of self-confidence and optimism, and models high standards of integrity and personal performance.
• Is a strong communicator: speaking, listening and writing.
• Is willing to listen to input, but is a decision maker.
• Possesses the ability to enhance student performance, especially in identifying and closing the gaps in students achievement. Is willing to listen to input, but is a decision maker.
• Is able to to build consensus and commitment among individuals and groups with emphasis on parental involvement.
• Has knowledge of and successful experience in sound fiscal practices and management of district resources, including appropriate participation of others in planning and decision-making.
• Is able to work cooperatively with the board and keeps members informed.
• Is comfortable leading innovation in education with a focus on the whole child.
• Has knowledge of emerging research and best practice in the area of curriculum/instructional design and practice.
• Is able to work with legislators on key topics and can lead an organization throughout the legislative process.
• Demonstrates commitment to community visibility with high interest in a broad range of community groups and organizations.
• Demonstrates ability to work with the media.

Think you meet the standard? You have until Oct. 20 to submit your application.

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