Southsiders spoke out Wednesday night at the last of three scheduled town hall meetings designed to add input into the selection process of a new superintendent for the St. Joseph School District.
Wendesday's forum at Spring Garden Middle School was the best attended of the three events. Around 30 people came to share some of their insight on the type of person they would like to see lead the district in the future.
Current superintendent Robert Newhart announced in August he would be leaving at the end of the 2017-18 school year. The search firm School Exec Connect has been contracted by the district to assist in finding Newhart's replacement.
Those in attendance were asked about challenges a successful candidate would face in coming to St. Joseph. Some of the responses included opinions on low community morale, high overhead at district headquarters and the opinion that a new superintendent would have to work with a dysfunctional board.
Representatives from School Exec Connect were also asked about the new superintendent's salary, why the selection was being held before a new board is seated in April and other issues related to school closures. The forum moderator said it was not within their scope to address those issues.
After previous forums at Oak Grove Elementary and Roubidoux Middle School, search firm representatives say with the input from attnedees at Spring Garden and other focus groups they are holding, they have plenty of information to forward to the board of education.
"We're going to recommend a superintendent profile," said David Benson, a representative from School Exec Connect. "It's up to the board to discuss that and modify that and change it any way they see fit. Then we will search to that criteria."
Benson said his firm is already getting inquiries about the St. Joseph job. He said that he and his associates will hope to have 5-7 finalists for the board to choose from so that a selection will be made by February.