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Greater Albany Public School has its district office at 718 Seventh Ave. SW

School districts in both Albany and Lebanon are searching for new superintendents, and both searches are more or less at the same point: Consultants (pretty much necessary these days to help board members run a job search) have fanned out into the community to quiz citizens about the qualities that ideal candidates will possess.

In both Albany and Lebanon, the same company (Human Capital Enterprises) is helping to run the searches. And both school boards recently reviewed the laundry lists of characteristics residents want to see in their new superintendents.

The good news in both communities is that it apparently won't be necessary for the new superintendent to be able to walk across entire bodies of water; it will suffice, apparently, just to get halfway across. And then the new superintendents will need to have the demonstrated ability to paddle hard enough to keep their heads above water.

These exercises about desired attributes can be valuable to help board members and other stakeholders focus their efforts as they begin to review the actual humans who will be applying for these jobs. They also can be useful to get a sense of how those stakeholders assess how their schools have performed over the last few years. (It's worth remembering that both former superintendents, Rob Hess in Lebanon and Jim Golden in Albany, left under duress: Hess officially resigned, but was under pressure from his board to do so. Golden's contract was terminated in July for neglect of duty and insubordination. Golden has since filed a lawsuit against the school district for breach of contract.)

So it was interesting to hear the consultants from Human Capital Enterprises (both of whom have experience in Oregon schools) talk about the themes they saw surfacing again and again from their conversations and surveys.

For example, Hank Harris of Human Capital Enterprises noted that “The most salient challenges and issues facing Lebanon Community Schools are centered around organizational culture." That topic came up in every conversation the consultants held.

Qualities the community wants to see in its next superintendent, the consultant said, include being "a person of ethics" and an "extremely capable communicator." The community also seeks an innovator who engages parents and community members, and understands how to work with underrepresented and marginalized populations.

In Albany, the search is on for "an individual who operates at the highest levels of personal and professional integrity, who builds trust through honesty and following through on commitments” and who has experience at multiple levels of education. It will help your job chances in Albany to be a "thoughtful and unafraid leader who does not shy away from challenges" and "a strategic agent of change who plans deliberately with a sense of urgency." If you're wondering about that combination of "deliberate planning" and "urgency," you're not alone.

It will be a tall order to find candidates who connect on every single one of those traits. But these searches both are at the point where the boards can afford to dream big — as long as they understand that the person they'll eventually hire will be just a human, complete with flaws and blind spots. It will increase the odds for successful searches if board members stay focused on the truly essential traits — and make every effort to involve the public at each step of the way. (mm)

An omission 

An editorial in Wednesday's newspaper about a proposal to establish a primary for nonaffiliated voters went to lengths to list off as many Oregon political parties as possible — but, of course, missed one.  

We failed to include the Oregon Progressive Party, which an alert reader tells us has enjoyed the fastest growth in percentage terms of any state party over the last two years. We apologize for the omission. (mm)

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