The Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees held a special called meeting Tuesday, Sept. 24 to hear a presentation by Dr. Marian Strauss of Texas Association of School Boards Executive Search Services. The board members approved the list of leadership qualifications and characteristics presented by Strauss as they continue their search for a new school superintendent.

Strauss said the superintendent, as chief executive officer, is accountable to the board of trustees, which expects the superintendent to be the education leader of WISD. The superintendent works closely with the board of trustees to develop and implement policies and programs designed to carry out the district’s mission.

“In concert with the staff, students and members of the community, the board of trustees has identified certain characteristics and qualifications as highly desirable in a superintendent,” Strauss said. “This is a part of the application process. We will post these qualifications on Wednesday so that each applicant can complete the process.”

She informed the board members that there are a lot of people out there waiting for the qualifications to be posted, which is why they needed to review them and nail them down during the meeting.

The list was a compilation of feedback the search firm received from 173 members of the Waxahachie community. Strauss said they were extremely pleased with the response of the residents, students and faculty.

“We don’t typically have a response from the community like this,” she said. “This was a very intense day and everyone had ample opportunity to give their input. We had someone at every session and that was a good sign.”

She told the members of the board that several things jumped out at them while enlisting comments from the community.

“The fact that you are a large community with a hometown feel is one of the things the people would like to see continue through the leadership of the next superintendent,” Strauss said. “Everyone really wants to hold on to that.”

Strauss said the board members should be encouraged by the fact that they have a very proud community. She said it is from their comments that a list of qualifications and characteristics could be compiled.  

“We’ve written those characteristics out to fit what we’ve heard,” Strauss said.

The following characteristics is what the people in the community and the members of the school board would like for the next superintendent to possess:

• demonstrates superior interpersonal skills and can make and defend difficult decisions that are the best for students and the district

• a visionary leader with the ability to build consensus in support of the education programs and the use of the district’s facilities, resources, personnel and finances

• a proactive leader who is attentive to staff morale, and has proven ability in building an effective management team engaged in collaborative planning, problem solving and decision making

• a successful record of improving student achievement for all in a changing demographic student population

• a professional educator with experience as a teacher and campus administrator; successful experience in a rapidly growing district with similar demographics preferred

• able to build trust and unity while demonstrating unquestioned ethics, integrity and honesty

• able to educate and work in partnership with the board of trustees and build a climate of candor, mutual trust and cooperation

• committed to Waxahachie ISD for the long term and demonstrates active involvement in the district and community

• a visionary that is able to successfully implement technology in today’s classroom

In other business, members of the board held an open forum to receive comments from local residents. John Listler addressed the board by saying that he and his wife are proud residents of the city of Waxahachie. He said they are very excited about the continued diligence being put forth by the board of trustees as they continue their search for a new superintendent. In talking with other residents of the community, Listler feels the consensus has been that whoever the district chooses should possess certain qualities. He said those qualities include someone who is innovative, exciting and passionate.

“We believe we already know someone who fits this description,” Listler said. “We feel that Interim Superintendent David Truitt is the perfect candidate for this position. He sold my wife and I on this district when we first moved here. He takes the characteristics in which he possesses and instills them in our youth. Please don’t overlook the talent we have right here in your search for our new superintendent.”

Following him was Pastor David Ritsema of First Baptist Church Waxahachie. He said there are several reasons why the school board should focus their attention on David Truitt for superintendent.

“I attend church with David and many parishioners have asked me why the school board won’t just hire him as the district’s superintendent,” Ritsema said. “My reply to them is that I don’t know, but for me and family he is the best candidate.”

“My wife and I have three boys and when we moved here we were very concerned about the schools,” he said. “David was on the committee that brought me here and he sold WISD to us personally. We have a vested interest in this community and in this school district. I would hope to see a continuity among the leadership in our community.”

Price thanked the gentlemen for their insight and assured everyone in attendance that the board would select the best possible candidate for the school district.

“The Board of Trustees and I are extremely pleased with the number of participants in the Community Forums and the input that was given by our stakeholders,” stated Mark Price, Waxahachie ISD Board President.  “We believe that the leadership qualities that were developed, with the help of our community, will ensure that the most qualified and able candidate will be selected as the new Superintendent of Waxahachie ISD.”

TASB Executive Search team will present application data to the board Oct. 29, and the board’s next step will be to select the top six candidates and conduct interviews in late fall.

For more information on the Waxahachie ISD Superintendent Search, contact the Office of Public Relations at 972.923.4631 or visit www.wisd.org and look for the Superintendent Search link. The next school board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14 at the WISD Administration Building located on 411 N. Gibson St.

Follow Melissa on Facebook.com/MelissaCadeWDL. Contact her at 469-517-1450 or melissa.cade@waxahachietx.com.