The 29-member Community Advisory Committee on the Selection of the Superintendent met yesterday.

The committee was facilitated by Carol Choy of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates. Educated in SFUSD schools, she also worked for SFUSD as a teacher, principal and area superintendent for 28 schools. She went on to be the superintendent of schools in Princeton, NJ and is currently teaching at Bank Street College in New York City.

Twenty-five of the members were there-including Sandra Fewer, Chair of the Committee and staff member for Coleman Advocates (she also has a son at Washington HS); Sarah Lipson, former BOE member and IRF at Bessie Carmichael ES; Phil Hofgreen, Silver Giving Group/SF School Alliance (association of corporations that provide or want to provide money for schools); Germaine Wong, Board Chairman for Chinese for Affirmative Action; May Luey, Retired Bilingual Teacher; Yvonne Johnson-Miller, SEIU 1021; Loreen Chu, Assistant Dean for Ethnic Studies at SF State; Maria Perez-Fonce, LATA (Latino Teachers Association); Lorraine Woodruff-Long, PPS; Nick Driver, PAC; Colleen Montoya, former staff member for the Youth Commission and now working for the Dept. on the Status of Women; Sandy Gwen, junior at Lowell; Elizabeth Bailey, student at Burton and a member of Student Advisory Committee; Nicole McCray, parent of a student at Lincoln; Tareyton Russ, principal of Willie Brown Academy; J.R. Adrichson, parent of a student at June Jordan and a member of the Small Schools by Design Task Force; Queena Chan, senior at Burton HS; Jeremiah Jeffries, teacher at Sherman ES and building representative for UESF; Paul Chang, principal at Thurgood Marshall and representative for UASF; Kwan Quan, SF PTA; Gayle Ow, teacher and assistant principal at Lowell and a representative for UESF; Margaret Brodkin, DCYF, and Caroline Grannan, parent of a student at Aptos MS and SOTA.

The meeting was basically to focus attention on the challenges and opportunities in the District-as well as the characteristics that the Community Advisory Committee wants to see in a superintendent.

Choy stressed that the Board would choose the finalists-and that the search will be confidential. Taking the input from the community, the firm plans to recruit candidates in April . In May, the firm plans to give the Board of Education a list of three to five candidates. The Board has announced that it wants to announce its choice by May 31.

Choi asked the advisory community to list the strengths of the District:

Diversity of the Population
Educated Group of People within the District and supporting the District
Experienced and Well-Educated Teachers and Administrators
Dedicated Group of Students that Have a Richness of Experience to Support Them
Very Good Classified Staff
Good Nutrition Workers, Custodians and School Secretaries
Excellent Paraprofessionals
Highest API for an urban school district in CA
STAR/Dream School Programs
Good Collaboration with the City
Every School Bond Has Been Passed in the Last 15 Years-So Support from the Voters
Large Number of CBOs that Support Eduction
Strong PTA and other parent-based groups
Huge range of programs offered in the schools, such as language immersion
BOE supports small schools by design, charter schools and traditional schools
Weighted Student Formula
Comprehensive Healthy School Program
No Empty Calories program
Community Not Bought Into NCLB
Dual enrollment program with City College
Partnerships with Neighboring Colleges

The CAC identified these weaknesses:

Widening Achievement Gap-Largest Achievement Gap for African American Students of all urban school districts
Widening Achievement Gap for Special Education Students, Latino Students and Pacific Islanders
Difficulty Finding Funding for Superintendent in Charge of Small Schools by Design Program
Aging of Our District Staff-Impending Loss Due to Retirement
Not Enough Accountability in the Instruction with Special Education Students
Dropout Rate-58% of the District’s African American students drop before graduating
Very few of the district’s African American students are graduating (UC) college-ready
Constrained Resources
Declining Enrollment
Staff Layoffs
School Closures
Revenue Shortfall in the Nutrition Dept.
Negotiating Union Contracts
Inequity of Resources-Westside schools get more resources
Lack of Transparency on distribution of resources
No results-based budgeting
Segregation of schools
Teachers make more money in surrounding districts
English Language Learners’ needs are ignored
School Assignment Favors West Side Schools
Parents’ Perception That Leads Them to Choose the Same Schools
High Number of SF’s students are in private schools
Affordable Housing is lacking in the City
Safety in the Schools is a concern for parents
Answer the Phones at the Central Office and the Schools
Update the Website
Slowly Cutting Out Paraprofessionals who are essential in the classroom and with special education children
Only Two Alternative High Schools in the District
No bilingual programs in the continuing or alternative high schools
No vocational education
No systematic actions to improve education-only motivated by lawsuits
Atmosphere of fear and retribution among teachers if they dare to speak out
Special student assignment process for Lowell and SOTA

Choy then added her own that she said that she heard from other groups, so these also were added to the mix:
“Cultural” Perception that the District is Hiding Facts
Need for More Positive News and More Consistent Communication of Positive News
Need for a Strong Communicator

Phil Holgren, chair of the SF School Alliance reported that his group ran a poll among San Francisco voters. He didn’t note the number of voters polled. He found:

To the question, is SF Unified School District going in the right direction or the wrong track:
Right Direction-22%
Wrong Track-54%

To the question, how would you rate the quality of the education provided by SFUSD:
Good to Excellent-28%
Not So Good to Poor-54%

To the question, how well do you think SFUSD manage its funds:
Excellent 20%
Not So Good to Poor 53%

Characteristics of a Superintendent:
1. Need to Find Funding
2. Actually Implement Programs
3. Innovative
4. Committed to Stay Five Years
5. Visionary and Strategic
6. Prioritze
7. Accessible to People
8. Experience in Education/Classroom
9. Search for Solutions/Think Outside the Box
10. Listen to Students
11. Educated in Public Schools
12. Collaborative Seeking Attitude
13. Integrity
14. No Huge Ego
15. Vision and Plan that is research-based
16. Institutional Leader/Academic Superstar
17. Already demonstrated working with the diversity found in SFUSD’s student population
18. Speaks other langauges
19. Sense of humor
20. Politically savvy
21. Confidence to allow staff to get the results on their own terms
22. Genuine respect for students.
23. Confident enough to hear honest feedback from students, parents and the community
24. Goes to school sights
25. Shouldn’t be revengeful
26. Someone who always put children first
27. Tactful
28. Seeks to involve and empower staff and families to find solutions to learning needs
29. Seeks ways for transparency
30. Knows CA politics and the budget process in Sacramento
31. Effective communicator
32. Understands the progressive politics of San Francisco
33. Understands that equality can also mean spending additional dollars on struggling students and struggling schools to create a level planning field