Results from the Gilbert Unified School District's online survey are in: The community would like a new superintendent who is respectful and supportive of all staff and who attracts and retains quality employees.
The survey was available on the district's Web site for everyone to anonymously respond from Dec. 18 to Jan. 13. Gilbert's governing board wanted input from the community, and 521 participants completed the survey.
The district is searching internally for a new superintendent after current Superintendent Brad Barrett announced in November he is leaving the district June 30 at the end of his contract. He has been in the post for seven years.
Board President Helen Hollands said she was pleased with the results and could tell the community really put thought in their responses.
"I was pleasantly surprised at the astuteness of the responses," she said. "They want someone willing to make the difficult decisions, and were really thinking what's best for the entire district. These are wonderful comments."
A superintendent who "shows respect for and support of all employees" was the top attribute chosen by 53 percent of respondents from a list of 10 attributes. Close behind, 49 percent of survey takers want a superintendent who "attracts, develops and retains competent staff."
The third most important attribute, chosen by 38 percent, is someone who "maintains comprehensive knowledge and understanding of current educational research, standards and trends, legislative issues, school finances, and law."
The public was also asked to add attributes they felt were important but were not included in the list.
Several of the 215 respondents said a superintendent who understands all aspects of education, from special education to preschool, was needed. They wanted to see someone with many years of teaching experience in elementary and secondary education. The community wants a superintendent who can answer direct questions honestly, without sugarcoating, according to the survey. Thrift with the district's money and support for the arts also ranked high.
The survey also asked for a question that the governing board should include in the interview process, and 224 people responded.
Survey respondents wanted to ask the superintendent candidate how they could improve the district and how they will demonstrate an awareness for the district's growing cultural and academic diversity.
Hollands said the survey brought out "excellent" questions. "We got so much usable data information to evaluate the candidates. It's great," she said.
The board will discuss the survey results and develop interview questions in a closed session Tuesday so as not to tip off potential candidates as to which questions will be asked.
Interviews will begin in late January or early February, and the goal is to name a new superintendent in March.