(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) St. Joseph residents given an opportunity to provide input into the selection of a new superintendent of the St. Joseph School District were largely absent from a meeting Wednesday night scheduled to provide them a voice.
Barely a dozen people attended the first town hall-style meeting coordinated by representatives from School Exec Connect. The
Minneapolis-based search firm was contracted by the district to screen candidates who will be interviewed to replace outgoing superintendent Robert Newhart. In August, Newhart announced that this would be his final year with the district.
Members of the St. Joseph School District Board of Education were specifically asked not to attend the meeting to allow a better free-flow of ideas.
The 45-minute long meeting included asking those who attended to give their opinions on current strengths and weaknesses in the district and what types of characteristics they would like to see in a new superintendent.
Those who participated said they would like to see someone with previous experience as a superintendent, someone who can manage the books during a budget crisis and someone who can be a leader and can gain the trust of the community among other qualities.
Despite the energy and numerous ideas of those who attended, it was not lost on many that attendance at the meeting was low.
"I do think it's a shame," said Theresa Simmons, a former school board candidate who attended the meeting. "Everybody needs to have input. All of the people who have agreed with the district and all of the people that don't agree, they all need to fill a room and be able to speak up. These people are very willing to listen to everybody speak.
The public will have two more chances to attend a future town hall on the superintendent search. Those dates are next Tuesday at Roubidoux Middle School and next Wednesday at Spring Garden Middle School. Both meetings will start at 6 p.m.