It appears the Rochester City School District school board is fully determined to hire a private superintendent search firm, with the price tag to contract with such an outfit to be at least $40,000. Various board members have iterated that these funds are indeed available to hire Ray and Associates, a firm located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and that the aforementioned cost is solid. Never mind that the last time the board contracted with a private search firm, not only did it cost the district a grand total of $143,000, it also produced Jean-Claude Brizard, with neither of those realities having truly benefited the Greater Rochester community.
RCSD Board Making Dubious Promises
That the school board conveniently disregarded state open meeting bylaws by attempting to slip this particular matter under the noses of city of Rochester residents is by itself troubling. Furthermore, regardless of what certain board members are publicly espousing, specifically Jose Cruz in his letter to the editors at the Democrat & Chronicle on Sunday, October 23, many of these shareholders are not buying the board’s assertions that all invested parties will be involved in the pursuit of and ultimate decision to hire the district’s next superintendent.
Yet even more concerning to me is just how the board came about their decision to pursue an outside vendor, considering the RCSD has an in-house and expansive human resources department. The department, curiously renamed the Human Capital Initiatives during the Brizard regime, the HCI states on its own web page that it is collectively responsible for the “recruitment and development of a talented diversity-centered leadership workforce,” among several other colorfully descripted obligations. With all of this in mind, someone please cogently explain to me why it is that the board believes it is essential that they (we) seek an external resource to handle the recruitment of a prospective RCSD employee.
Outside Forces Pulling RCSD Board Strings
If I didn’t know any better, I would have to suppose there is a local external force at work here, pushing the buttons of some of the RCSD board members. This “unknown” presence has been performing its own due diligence and cajoling these same board representatives, in my view, to circumvent the search process. It has also been repeatedly suggested that this same local external force is distrusting of the city school district and its overall operations. The widely held belief within this peripheral world is that the district is infected with a serious case of systemic inertia and employs too many individuals that are beholden to the “status quo.”
Subsequently, we are all now exposed to the charade that is now being perpetrated by some of the board members, justifying the need for a private search firm because it (Ray and Associates in this case) has access to a national database consisting of high-quality candidates and that it can perform many if not all of the higher level screening functions.
I might also propose that the local external force (local business community, folks), in its never-ending quest to legitimize the Rochester region on a national stage, is of the unwise opinion that in order to resurrect our chronically floundering urban school district, we must retain the services of a national search firm that will provide us with access to the superstar executive leaders of today. Hey, for Rochester to get more national respect, we need to duplicate what other larger urban centers across the country are doing, right? The idea here is to attract an up-and-coming big shot executive that will reinvent the RCSD and eventually public education in general.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Do not be fooled by the rhetoric that is being generated by certain board members. The intention is for this not to be an inclusive search process, at least in the long term. I cannot help but wonder what those in the RCSD’s HCI have to say about the distinct possibility, once again, of not being directly involved – if included at all – in the superintendent search process. I have made a few inquiries regarding this particular angle but to no avail. Nobody is talking, which is hardly surprising.
Nevertheless, that should not mean that the remainder of the Rochester community stays mum on this matter. It is time for more voices be heard, and to be heard loud and clear.
(2011). Schools board to involve all stakeholders in superintendent search. Retrieved October 23, 2011.
Thomas, L.F. (2011). Education Accountability For Rochester Schools.
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