Community Input Helping Duluth School Board in Superintendent Search

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: January 28, 2020 10:37 PM

The Duluth School Board is getting closer to making a big decision about its future in choosing a new superintendent with help from the community.


The school board presented results in their meeting Tuesday from an online survey filled out by over 1,400 community members. They also shared input from focus groups made up of community leaders, groups, district staff, parents, and students. This helped develop a superintendent leadership profile for the district's candidate search.

"I think it's important that you get the viewpoint of the people that are going to be affected most by the new superintendent, it affects our learning," said Nabiha Nimtiaz, a Duluth East High School junior and school board representative.

The information from the community helped identify the qualities people want to see for Duluth's next superintendent.

"I want a strong communicator, I want someone who really has a financial vision that can bring that expertise into the world," said Jill Lofald, the Duluth School Board chair.

The results from the survey identified the top three characteristics for a superintendent as having integrity, commitment to the community, and being a strategic thinker. As well as having great communication, financial, and collaboration skills.

"I think it was important when they brought up the community builder part. Someone who works with the community, not only just comes to community meetings, but talks with sincerity and making sure that everything they say is truthful," said Siiri Truckey, a Duluth East High school senior. She was part of the focus groups who gave input.

"Our community wants a superintendent that they see in the community. Someone they see in our schools that the kids might know their name and really connects with staff and students," said Lofald.

This valuable input also helped in highlighting the strengths and challenges the school district needs to work on.

"I wanted to learn about how people are concerned about economic disparity in our schools, which I think is a really big issue and a hot topic right now," said Truckey.

Folks who took the survey said the district's strengths are having excellent teachers and staff, having good school facilities, and being a supportive community.

In the survey, community members said the issues the district needs to focus on is financial management, community relations, and closing the achievement/opportunity gap. These challenges are something Duluthians said they want to see the next superintendent tackle.

"A lot of the things that I want in a superintendent were touched on. Communication between the superintendent and the school and the school board is really important," said Nimtiaz.

"We're not afraid of challenges and I hope our superintendent isn't afraid of challenges because through that we're going to have some great results," said Lofald.

The consulting firm helping the school, BWP & Associates, is going to use this information for the candidate search.

The school board's plan is to interview candidates in March. By April, the next superintendent is expected to be announced.

To learn more on the process. Click here.


Alejandra Palacios

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