Saturday, March 8, 2008

[LCSD] The Perfect Superintendent

A commenter asks this question:

What SPECIFICALLY would your IDEAL Superintendent be like?



Anonymous said...

This is very thought provoking and has made me come to the conclusion that a superintendent is only as good as his/her board.
I mean here we have a brilliant and visionary leader that is absolutely relentless in his effort to implement programs for all ages of our kids. He has no problem making hard decisions because he feels they are the right ones for the students. If he finds he's made the wrong decision he admits it. He's straight up honest and to the letter ethical. Very professional even during what must have been extremely stressful times. Excellent financial manager. He's not warm and fuzzy but he gets it done.
Yet less than 30 days after Debbie came on everything came to a grinding halt. All these years Rick and Josh have said the sky is red only because Jim said it was blue. They never even looked up to see for themselves. Jim will always have vision and ability but if he doesn't have a board behind him what's his motivation?
I now realize God's gift to education could be our CEO and it wouldn't do us any good.
A more important question is what would your ideal board be like? The ideal board would be able to recruit the ideal superintendent.

Dennis said...


If I were to add anything, I'd point out that Robinson is not known for having the best communications skills. Perhaps that's one thing that could be added to your list - after all, the Super does need to get along with the board, regardless.

Anonymous said...

Dennis- You are right that Dr. Robinson is reputed to be a poor communicator but...

Many have also said that when they went to him and talked through a difficult issue, he listened genuinely, asked appropriate questions, and politely articulated a clear answer. Some would call this excellent communication.

Whether one agrees with the answer is another matter altogether.

One thing is certain though, two of the three board members who rated him as poor at communication have refused to set down and talk anything through, and they have refused to do that for years. They would have nothing but hearsay to make the determination that he is a poor communicator. (The third board member, Mrs. Shimmin worked for Jim Robinson and assuming sound judgment on her part, comes by her opinions honestly.)

Furthermore, the board in its majority removed him from the dais where before he set among them and communicate freely during meetings, then relegated him to a table on the floor of the board room. From then on he was not free to interject key information as needed, but spoke only on the rare occasion that he was asked direct questions. So, no communications allowed during meetings, none outside of meetings.

At the same time the department directors were bumped to the audience seats so that the board would more clearly be running the show without the interference of the people who actually carry out policy.

Note too, that many agencies have a staff member who devotes much time to communicating information to the public, the board, and staff. Linn Benton Lincoln ESD, for example has a full time person. Lebanon had somebody but in a round of budget cuts that person was let go and at the same time the Superintendent assumed the responsibility of supervising the facilities department, including administration of the huge bond construction project going on at that time.

There is a lot of history around all of this and wherever you check in on it, Rick Alexander is throwing a wrench in the works.

So you can anticipate more legal actions, not because Jim and and Steve are litigious, but because Rick Alexander and company have long been violating contract language and law. Robinson will seek redress because he will believe that this supports quality education and especially education reform.

And keep in mind that he has nothing to lose, an unusual and enviable position for education reformers.

Anonymous said...

RE: Anon, If I were to add anything, I'd point out that Robinson is not known for having the best communications skills.

Communication is a broad term.
I would like to know what people are comparing this to. Most communication from government leaders comes through the press. It's not like the Mayor or City Manager sends out a monthly newsletter to the taxpayers or all the city employees. The press informs us of all the important changes and meetings within our schools, city and county.

Speaking of taxpayers, schools, city and county; Rick hasn't paid his property taxes once since he's been on the board. What's that about?! He owes almost $15,000!
43% of property taxes goes to SCHOOLS (including charter schools), 23.0% to Cities (as in Debbie's salary) and another 30% goes to County and Rural Fire. Is there any other town in the country that has a school board member who doesn't pay their taxes? Is this his example of following policy? Is this our kids example of community leader?

Back to the subject. Most CEOs both private and public meet and communicate with their managers. In Jim's case that would be the principals and department heads. They in turn should have staff meetings in which they relay important information. No? What am I missing? If the board thinks Jim should send out a weekly email communicating with the teachers and classified why don't they just ask him to? The board has meetings with him every month that last for hours. If they want to communicate more often then they should MEET with him or have board meetings twice a month or ask him to send them a weekly email.

Dennis, what do you think people are referring to when they say he's a poor communicator? Not often enough? Clear enough? Not enough information? What?

You're right. The ideal super does need to get along with the board. Regardless. And the ideal board needs to get along with the super. Regardless.

Anonymous said...

How does the current school board stack up against past boards and typical boards in terms of other public service and involvement?

Dennis said...

I think it's a combination of lack of information-sharing and a vaguely hard-nosed, autocratic style.

Go back far enough and you'll find that the lack of information was a complaint of board members. I can't vouch for how true it is.

I find it interesting that many in the current crop don't seem to have this problem with Robinson.

(It's late, and I feel snarky.)

Maybe it's because many in the current crop don't use information when making decisions?


Anonymous said...

Anon #1

Man, are you sleeping with the dude? Or his campaign manager. Robinson has had a rough time, and partly due to him, and partly due to this being Lebanon. I would like to know why the majority of the special education group for the district left together a couple years ago. They were frustrated with the school district and the illegal treatment of special needs kids in Lebanon. Mr. Robinson was opposed to keeping kids mainstreamed, and would rather put them in a special school. The special needs teachers were unable to do their jobs. This is illegal with Oregon code.

His communication is crap. "You don't like what I say, too bad." Several teachers I know are afraid to speak out for fear of repercussions.

Good riddance.

Russ said...

I agree, the super does need to get along with the board, and that will not happen in this district with the current board members and superintendent. Too much anger and lack of trust on both sides. I know you are generally on the side of the superintendent, Dennis, but watching him interact with the board on even positive, easy things, is telling. There has been times when Rick or Josh would ask Mr. Robinson a legitamate question and Mr. Robinson would roll his eyes and look disgusted. I know he's frustrated, but it is important to maintain professionalism. There is a lot of animosity between the board and the superintendent that no amount of retreats will probably overcome. This may be truly the only way of moving forward.

Russ said...

"Legitimate". Sorry. Didn't proof read real well! Legitamate isn't a word.

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