A small group of interested parents and educators gathered in the Gonzales High School Student Center Tuesday evening to leave input for what they feel the next Gonzales ISD superintendent should be. Two representatives from the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) were on hand to ask three questions, which will be condensed and delivered to GISD board members of the desires of the public when it comes to hiring the district's new leader.
The three questions were what strengths they desired in a superintendent, what were the top concerns from the district, and what professional characteristics were necessary in the position.
For strengths, the nine people in attendance cited the closeness of the community. While one woman was surprised that more people were not in attendance, she said that a new super should understand that the community is close-knit.
“People in Gonzales want to see an improvement in the system,” another commented.
When it came to district issues and concerns, the list was lengthy.
“There is a void of communication with the community. The administration is not tackling issues,” an attendee said. “If they aren't going to address [issues] publicly, we will end up where we are now.”
Some parents agreed that the current makeup of Gonzales High School leaves their children ill-prepared for college, with one that had a Top-10 student who is now struggling at a major Texas university. Another cited lax rules, where teachers send students to fetch tacos. The elimination of final exams and the push toward standardized testing was another concern.
“There is a lack of discipline,” one said. “The students do not respect their teachers. There's a 'get away with anything' attitude.”
Teachers were sympathized with, stating that they can only handle so much. One mother said that instructors have to be all things: mom, nurse, counselor, and disciplinarian in addition to teaching. The district's budget was not allowing more support staff, and teachers feel like the administration does not “have their back” in times of trial.
They also cited failed leadership as a reason for the district's woes. GISD needs to have a school board and superintendent that fully supports its teachers and lets them work on what they need to.
“It's got to start with your school board,” another said.
The parents said that most are afraid to speak up to their board members. One even asked where they could find out what board member represents them, since it is not listed on the GISD website or related material. The conversation went a bit off-course as those assembled criticized the school board, and the TASB crew had to redirect them to the questions at hand.
“There's no consistency across campuses,” was another concern.
As for professional and personal characteristics they wanted in a new superintendent, they agreed that they should be involved in the community and accessible. Another said that they should be familiar with small towns, for someone from Dallas might not understand the needs of the Gonzales community. On the other hand, one said that sometimes a town needs someone from a different population to come in and make changes.
“I think this person needs to have a heart for people,” one said.
The TASB representatives gave a timeline for the selection of the next superintendent. April 16 is the deadline for applications, and they said they had received a lot of interest so far. They would then deliver the school board with the list of applicants and consult with them, so as not to “get into a ditch.” A total of six candidates would be selected by the board for the first round of interviews the first week of May, with three finalists returning mid-May. Board members could also make a visit to the candidate's home district, they explained.
The lone finalist will be named May 22 and can be hired 21 days later after a state mandated wait.
The school board will get the report from this question session next week. There is also an online form with the same set of questions that can be submitted. The link is on the district's home page at www.gonzalesisd.net under “Tell Us What You Think” in the Spotlight section.