Since the Board of Education has begun to solicit input on the most important qualities in a new superintendent to replace the retiring Sydney Cousin, we offer here our two cents' worth.
First off, back away from any candidate spouting big ideas about a radical remake of the Howard County Public School System. It is by no means perfect, but for the vast majority of students, it provides a solid education. It is the envy of public school districts all over Maryland and the United States.
It ain't broke, so don't fix it.
To ensure that Howard County schools continue that record of excellence, the incoming superintendent must be not only a top-flight educator, but a great communicator who is plugged into the student population and the community as well as the staff and administrators in the schools and the central office.
That means not just hearing suggestions and taking heat at public hearings, but being in tune with various constituencies via the social media that have become a major communications avenue.
Howard County's isn't the only school district on the hunt for a new chief. Baltimore County is also looking. Montgomery County just hired a new superintendent. So the competition for the most qualified candidate is likely to be fierce. The good news for Howard County is that its reputation as a top-tier public school system makes the superintendent position a plum that the best of the best will covet.
The board should make the most of that advantage by having a firm grasp on what they and their constituents want in a superintendent and finding candidates with those qualities in abundance.