Wanted: a school superintendent who looks to the future, understands budgets and high technology, communicates well with politicians, the public and school employees, and is sensitive to the changing demographics of Baltimore County. Teaching experience preferred.
That would be the classified advertisement for Baltimore County's new school superintendent if it were written by some of the 40-odd interest groups and citizens the school district has polled about the kind of person they want for the job.
The school board, which is running its own want ad in major newspapers, hopes to announce on March 1 its replacement for Robert Y. Dubel, who will retire July 1 after 16 years on the job.
Some of the people school officials consulted were willing to talk with a reporter about the qualities they want in the person who will head the 90,000-student district.
"We're at a crossroads. This is obviously an absolutely key time for a new superintendent," said Phyllis Ettinger, chairwoman of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Gifted Education.
"We need someone with visionary qualities. A hands-on, involved administrator who follows up and follows through on policies," Mrs. Ettinger said. "Someone who is committed to high quality for all students."
"We're not just this white, middle-class county anymore," said Michael Gimbel, director of Baltimore County's Office of Substance Abuse. The new superintendent should be "very sensitive" to that, he said.
"It shouldn't just be that we make the kids fit the system but [that] the system should fit the kids," Mr. Gimbel said. "That takes leadership."
James Pennington, president of the Baltimore County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the group wants a superintendent who takes "ultimate responsibility" for school programs, is accessible, and has been successful in working with African-Americans and other ethnic groups.
The 5,900-member Teachers Association of Baltimore County wants a superintendent who understands the growing importance of technology, said the union's president, Edward Veit.
A doctorate from a major university and teaching experience are vital, and the candidate must also be a savvy budget negotiator who can plead the district's case to the county, Mr. Veit said. "We have asked for an individual who has a background in teaching."
Brent Hill, president of the Association of Central Office Educators, said he wants an ethical superintendent who supports participatory management and who values art and music in addition to "the three R's."
"One who rejects top-down management but who would insist on employee input," he said.