JPS wants feedback on what makes a good superintendent

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Kayleigh Skinner, Mississippi Today

The JPS Better Together Commission

The Jackson Public Schools Better Together Commission met Thursday to lay out timelines for upcoming community engagement efforts.

Commission member Ed Sivak, who is also a member of the school board, gave an update on the district’s superintendent search. Earlier this month, the board hired Omaha, Neb.-based McPherson and Jacobson LLC to conduct the search.

On April 16-17 district plans to host four community meetings to ask stakeholders about what’s going on in their communities and schools, what qualities they believe a superintendent should have, and what issues the district’s next leader should be aware of. A survey will also be circulated in Jackson, he said.

Each meeting will take place in the school gymnasium:

Monday, April 16:

  • Cardozo Middle School, 6-7:30 p.m.
  • Murrah High School, 6-7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, April 17

  • Provine High School, 6-7:30 p.m.
  • Callaway High School 6-7:30 p.m.

The feedback from those meetings will be presented to the school board on April 18.

The application window for superintendent candidates closes May 14, Sivak said, and interviews will take place in June. The finalists will be named to the public soon after, and the board hopes to have a new leader in place by July 1.

Sivak noted that the district’s corrective action plan (CAP) was approved by the State Board of Education earlier this month, and the board is already requesting the Mississippi Department of Education to visit to clear standards surrounding school finance, child nutrition, professional development, and transportation.

The CAP is a response to the results of an investigative audit by the Department of Education released in August. The audit found the district was noncompliant in 24 of the 32 state accreditation standards.

Although the board feels confident some standards can be cleared immediately, others surrounding teacher staffing and facilities may prove harder to get approved. Administrative leaders have noted throughout the school year that like many districts across the state, JPS is struggling with to find and place certified teachers due to a teacher shortage. The board voted to close a handful of elementary schools next year due to millions of dollars in repair costs to school facilities.

The Better Together Commission is also beginning to hire staff — during the meeting, members noted four open positions which will be paid for out of a recent $3 million grant to the Community Foundation of Greater Mississippi to fund the administrative efforts of the commission.