Board opts for internal search for next superintendent

8/6/2011 | TACOMA, Washington

The Tacoma School Board voted today to conduct an internal search for the next superintendent to replace Art Jarvis, who will retire after the 2011-2012 school year.
Jarvis made his announcement in June to give the School Board adequate time to discuss options for finding his replacement and give plenty of time for a smooth transition.
During a special meeting and retreat today at the Tacoma Nature Center, the board discussed options for replacing Jarvis, including whether the current state of Tacoma Public Schools warranted an internal, local or national search.
In the end, board members agreed to search first for candidates from within Tacoma Public Schools.
“Dr. Jarvis has done an excellent job of healing and stabilizing the organization and assembling a strong leadership team,” said School Board President Kurt Miller. “The district is now headed in the right, positive direction. By looking internally for the next superintendent, we can provide the continued stability for the organization to move forward.
“Bringing in somebody brand new disrupts the flow of what we’re doing,” Miller said. “We have a strategic plan in place. We’ve increased our math scores, which is huge. We’ve been trying to do that for a long time. I want to continue that – not disrupt it. So, stability of leadership is what we need right now.”
Ultimately, he said, if the board decides no internal candidates qualify for the job, the board still will have time to pursue a local or national search.
The board discussed and established both the credentials for qualified internal candidates and the timeline for its search.
Board members generally agreed the internal applicants should have:
  • Leadership experience in an urban district
  • Experience leading implementation of continuous, progressive change with positive outcomes
  • Experience leading innovative transformation
  • Experience with community engagement and working with the public on controversial issues with positive outcomes
  • An understanding of the district’s strategic plan
Next steps in the search process will include:
  • Publishing the application and requirements on the district Web site Monday, Aug. 8.
  • Accepting application materials through noon Thursday, Aug. 18.
  • A special board meeting the evening of Thursday, Aug. 18 to review applications and meet in executive session to evaluate the qualifications of the applicants. At that meeting, the board will determine when to conduct interviews with its finalists.
Board members agreed that if they select an internal replacement for Jarvis, the next superintendent would operate on a limited-term contract – perhaps 18 months – with frequent evaluations. Board members also discussed and agreed that an 18-month contract should not be considered interim, stating they needed to make a permanent commitment to the staff.
With two School Board positions on the ballot this fall, a shorter-than-typical contract still will allow the newly constituted School Board plenty of opportunity to evaluate the next superintendent, Miller said.