After 30 meetings, three community forums, and 7,754 responses to an online survey, the Prince William County School Board has determined that the next superintendent must have strong communication skills, a proven record of success and experience working in a diverse school system.
These traits, compiled into a leadership profile unanimously approved by the school board Dec. 17, were collected by search firm BWP & Associates through a community engagement process that included the meetings, community forums and online survey. The district is seeking a new superintendent to replace Dr. Steve Walts, who is retiring June 30 after more than 15 years with the school system.
Walts’ departure followed an investigation into messages sent to Prince William County students through his Twitter account. Walts also faces a defamation suit by former school board Chair Ryan Sawyers that is based on Walts’ video response to the investigation.
The leadership profile helps those interested in applying for the position identify the qualifications the school system is seeking, based on the feedback from the community engagement process.
“The Board seeks candidates who can demonstrate a ‘match and fit’ with the leadership qualities and characteristics listed [within the leadership profile],” it states.
In addition to strong communication skills, a proven record of success, and experience working in a diverse school system, a variety of other traits are being sought in the new superintendent. Community feedback highlighted the need for a superintendent with experience in instruction, finance and strategic planning. The feedback also listed integrity, commitment to community, interpersonal skills and good judgment as essential.
“[The Board seeks] a progressive, approachable leader with a solid instructional background who understands large and complex organizations, has been successful navigating the dynamics of change and will take bold action,” states the leadership profile.
With the leadership profile approved, the search process has now branched into the recruitment phase. During this period, the leadership profile will be made public and advertised nationally by BWP & Associates. This part of the process will last until the end of January and will be followed by candidate interviews and possible site visits by the school board.
If all goes as planned, the school district’s next superintendent will be selected and announced “as far in advance” of July 1 as possible, according to the school system.