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Survey respondents identify race, unification of the district among top challenges for new McFarland superintendent

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McFarland High School

McFarland High School

Amid the search for a new superintendent in McFarland, district stakeholders are weighing in on the biggest challenges the position will face and what qualities they’d like to see in potential candidates.

The results of a survey sent by district administrators to school staff and district families this month show a majority of responding McFarland families think the leading challenge facing the new superintendent will be race and politics.

Interim Superintendent Wayne Anderson said responses were mixed between families who want race to be a focal point for the district, and those who would rather not have race-related conversations in school.

“Many want the new superintendent to be a leader in helping promote equity and diversity among staff and students,” said Anderson. “But a large segment also want the new superintendent to keep the teaching of race (critical race theory) and political opinions out of the classroom.”

Anderson said another common answer for leading challenges from families was “the fallout of COVID-19.”

Dealing with opposing views from district parents on how best to deal with the pandemic and working on learning loss associated with COVID-19 are just two examples that families provided in their survey responses, said Anderson.

According to responding school staff, though, the number one challenge facing the new superintendent will be mending staff burnout and raising morale.

Staff also said they believe the next superintendent will “need to work on re-establishing a sense of unity between the schools in the district and repairing relationships between the school and community.”

Anderson said staff commented that they felt there was a stronger sense of unity across the district pre-pandemic.

As for the desired professional background of whomever fills the role, previous experience as a teacher ranked among the top qualifications that both responding groups said they hope to find in a new superintendent.

Past experience as a superintendent and training in equity, diversity and inclusion were also among the top responses from school staff and district families, said Anderson.

The survey also asked families and staff what qualities or personal attributes they would like to see in the district’s next superintendent.

According to Anderson, most staff responded to that question with answers like “a person with good communication skills,” “a person able to make decisions and stand by these decisions, even when unpopular,” and someone who’s an honest leader.

Top responses from district families were similar, with answers such as “good communication skills,” “demonstrated leadership skills,” and “a person who is proactive, progressive and can provide a vision for the district.”

Anderson said other responses included things like trustworthiness, listening skills and compassion.

The next step in the search process will be uploading a job posting, which Anderson said he started working on last week. Anderson has previously projected a February 2022 start date for the new superintendent.

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