Public wants accountability from new superintendent

By By Kara Carrier / American Press

Accountability, a strong background in education and a focus on improving student performance were some of the top traits

and goals the public said they would like the new Calcasieu Parish school superintendent to have. The results stemmed from

a public input survey conducted April 1-17 regarding qualifications for potential candidates.

The American Press received a copy of the survey results, which will be discussed by the School Board at a special-called meeting at 4 p.m.

May 13 at the Central Office.

Answers to the four-question survey

were compiled by Dustin Hebert and V. Faye White, McNeese State

University professors,

and Richard Smith of the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development

Alliance. Hebert told the board Tuesday night when he presented

the results packet that 1,394 submissions, both online and hard

copy, were received.

Hebert said results for each question were organized into the top five results — except for the first question, which asked

if respondents lived in Calcasieu Parish. “We thought that was the best way to present the findings and the easiest way to

understand what the community at large had to say,” Hebert said.

The survey found that 68.4 percent of respondents lived in Calcasieu Parish; 28.5 percent left the question blank; and 3.1

percent said they didn’t live in the parish.

The next question asked respondents about goals and objectives for the district. The top five themes that showed up in responses

were accountability; streamlining the central office; issues concerning the Common Core State Standards; education of and

for all students, especially those with special needs; and issues concerning the emphasis on test scores.

Question three asked what a new

superintendent should accomplish. Accountability was again a top result.

The public also wanted

continuous resources and professional development for the CCSS; a

supportive atmosphere; a focus on efforts to improve student

performance, but also an acknowledgment that test scores alone

aren’t valid measures; and an action plan to improve failing


The last question asked what favorable

personality traits or what type of person the public wanted in a

superintendent. Top

responses were someone with strong education credentials and an

extensive background in a school environment, good communication

skills, a good listener with an open-door policy, personable and a

strong leader who recognizes the big picture.

Last month when the survey was launched, School Board officials said they were looking forward to a large response from the public.

“The more information we compile and present to the board, and the more responses we get, will provide a much clearer and

concise profile of the ideal candidate for our community,” said Kirby Smith, district spokeswoman.

“We want the community to feel like this is their superintendent, too. We have so many schools and such a large impact on

the population that we need to have the public’s input.”