Few turn out to talk about VISD superintendent search

Gabriella Canales By Gabriella Canales

Feb. 7, 2018 at 10:12 p.m.
Updated Feb. 8, 2018 at 8:01 a.m.

Philip Welder, 30, music teacher at Rowland Elementary, speaks about the traits the VISD school board should look for in the district's next leader. He was one of about 20 residents and district employees who attended Wednesday's meeting.

Philip Welder, 30, music teacher at Rowland Elementary, speaks about the traits the VISD school board should look for in the district's next leader. He was one of about 20 residents and district employees who attended Wednesday's meeting.   Qiling Wang for The Victoria Advocate

Rowland Elementary School music teacher Philip Welder does not want the next Victoria school district superintendent to cut the fine arts programs that brought him to the district.

"Fine arts is important to the community," Welder, 30, said. "We share a common destiny."

Welder was among about 20 community members and district employees who expressed their thoughts Wednesday in a town hall meeting with JG Consulting about what traits they want to see in the next district leader.

James Guerra, president and CEO of JG Consulting, led the discussion.

The San Antonio search firm was chosen by the district to seek the leader who will take over after current Superintendent Robert Jaklich retires Aug. 31.

Welder said reducing teacher turnover should also be a focus for the next superintendent and that he or she should have some experience building relationships with teachers and retaining good staff members.

Although there were several people in attendance, he said he was disappointed to see more district employees than residents at the meeting.

Welder compared Wednesday's low turnout to the district's bond proposal. He said residents wanted to have opinions about the bond but did not want to participate.

One resident who echoed that sentiment was Kimberly Migura, a Victoria nurse, who said she came to the meeting to be involved.

She suggested school officials find other ways to inform the community about opportunities to give feedback, such as a letter sent home with students or electronic notifications.

Migura said she wants the next superintendent to be someone who engages every aspect of the district's employees and who plans to live in the community.

Juan Cruz, a VISD teacher, questioned whether there would be a balance between male and female applicants to gauge the diversity among the candidates attracted by the search firm.

Cruz said there are about 3 male teachers at his campus.

Working toward his graduate degree, he said several of his female professors have been superintendents.

"It'd be a refreshing opportunity to have a female," Cruz said.

Kody Chandler, a Victoria resident and an employee with an oil field company, asked questions about the tenure of superintendents who come from outside of Texas.

"I think an ideal candidate will have served in some capacity near here," Chandler said.

Chandler said he attended the meeting because his children attend Victoria schools and his wife is a district employee.

He wants the next leader to be someone who has the "it factor" - someone who is charismatic and is willing to give 100 percent to the job.

"A desk jockey is not a true leader," Chandler said.

He also questioned how many candidates the search firm expects to apply.

Guerra said he expects about 70 applicants.

He said feedback from the meeting will be put into a report and discussed with the board to create the minimal requirements, and then the firm will go live with seeking applications.

About 47 responses were counted in the community survey, which is a high volume, he said.

If a lot of people continue to take the survey, Guerra said, there is potential to keep collecting feedback.

"It's important to get honest, candid input," he said.


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