Public meeting airs thoughts on next Marfa superintendent
By RICHARD MARK GLOVER
MARFA – A crowd of about 30 residents voiced their opinion at an informal meeting Tuesday night at Robinson Cafeteria on how to find and what characteristics the next Marfa Independent School District superintendent should have.
“I think you should cast a very broad net,” said Sterry Butcher, who addressed the head table where school board members Katie Price-Fowlkes Tina Lujan, and Zach Moerbe sat. “Not just candidates we’re familiar with, but beyond, and look toward people who are experienced and prepared to live in a rural community.”
Five superintendents have served MISD in the past seven years.
“We need a person who is knowledgeable of Texas public school finance, knowledge of state academic requirements, knowledge of AU and AYP reporting, knowledge of living in an isolated community and the high percentage of low income families in the district, and somebody who facilitates leadership quality and can work with the principle, staff, students and citizens,” said Cindy Wimberly, Marfa High Principal.
Both Marfa Junior Senior High School and Marfa Elementary School are presently rated “Academically Unacceptable” (AU) by the state of Texas, which triggers reporting requirements to the federal government known as “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP), part of the “No Child Left Behind” program initiated by the George W. Bush administration. The district as a whole is Academically Acceptable.
“The school system has failed the citizens of Marfa, not as individuals but as a team,” said Fred Martinez. “It’s a mistake to go back to the same old thing. We need an educator not a disciplinarian.”
Former Marfa High School Principal Graydon Hicks III, who departed in February to take the same position at Fort Davis, is rumored to be a candidate for the superintendent post and the favorite choice among many teachers at MISD. At a similar meeting last week, about a dozen Marfa ISD teachers and staff voiced their support for Hicks.
Several citizens suggested that “thinking outside the box” should not only be employed for the selection process but also as a trait of the future superintendent. Other traits mentioned more than once included consistency, stability, and accountability. One lady remarked that psychological profiling might be used as a way to determine if potential candidates had what it takes to live in an isolated community.
Price Fowlkes, who chaired the informal meeting, explained that it is ultimately the school board that is responsible for employing a superintendent, whether she or he is selected by a committee or not.
“The one thing the school board is burdened with is to find a superintendent,” she said.
A total of 20 candidates so far have submitted their resumes for the position. A final cut to five is not expected before the next school board meeting set for June 25, as all seven MISD school board members are attending a summer school board training session in San Antonio this week.
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