FASTEST-GROWING NORTH TEXAS DISTRICT
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“We believe we’ve come away with a leader who is a great fit with the qualities our community desires,” Davis-Simpson said in a March 29 NISD press release. “Dr. Hicks is a leader who puts kids first, which is our top priority.” But as Hicks takes the helm, he is inheriting the fastest-growing school district in North Texas, according to the school district and Greg Smith, Fast Growth School Coalition execu- tive director. “There are several challenges asso- ciated with fast-growing districts, including building facilities to meet the needs of rapid student growth, building the capacity within a commu- nity to determine if there is a need for additional facilities, conducting and passing school bond elections, and maintaining a balanced budget while staffing conservatively,” Smith said. The board held 17 stakeholder meetings to gather feedback on the search process throughout Decem- ber and January, according to NISD’s superintendent search timeline. Stakeholders included campus princi- pals, district leadership, community members, city officials, district com- mittees, the faculty advisory council, the Northwest ISD Retired Teachers Association and others. The board’s decision was based on survey data from the NISD commu- nity in addition to feedback from the stakeholder meetings, which helped the board create a candidate profile, according to the release. The candidate had to meet four main criteria: dealt with fast growth and changing demographics; demon- strated success in student achieve- ment across all school-related aspects; proven excellent communication skills to navigate the district’s 14 municipal- ities across three counties; and shown themselves to be fiscally responsible to ensure the financial stability of the district, the release states. Now that Hicks has been named the finalist, a state-mandated 21-day waiting periodmust take place before he can be officially hired, according to the timeline. The board will vote to officially hire Hicks on April 19, and the new superintendent is set to begin his role May 2. However, both dates are tentative and may be sub- ject to change. “I believe everyone will be very impressed with how deeply the board ingrained the leadership profile that was developed from all of those
Northwest ISD is the fastest-growing school district in North Texas, according to Greg Smith, Fast Growth School Coalition executive director.
GROWTH FAST FACTS
A LOOKAT THE DISTRICT
As people flock to the Northwest ISD area, the district is growing in size and structure.
The superintendent will oversee:
active building subdivisions
future subdivisions proposed
available lots to build on
lots in 18 subdivisions have groundwork underway
schools & district program centers
FY 2021-22 budget
SOURCES: NORTHWEST ISD/COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
Hiring challenges The Texas Association of School Administrators offers learning oppor- tunities and advocacy efforts for state superintendents and other school administrators. Kevin Brown, the association’s executive director, said superintendents throughout the state are finding it difficult to satisfy every- one with just about any decision. “The divisive nature of politics today makes it very difficult to really focus on the children because the adults are taking so much of the oxygen out of the space,” Brown said. “Once you’re deprived of being able to focus on your students [and] focus on serving your community, then you don’t feel like you’re fulfilling your mission. That’s why you’re seeing so many superin- tendents [resign].” Cron agreed, noting there are greater numbers of superintendent openings this year. In North Texas, for example, there are superintendent openings in Richardson, Dallas and Fort Worth ISDs as of April 1. Plano and Lewisville ISDs recently filled their open superin- tendent positions. One reason for the turnover, Cron noted, is that the last of the baby boomer generation is getting ready to retire. The other reason is COVID-19.
stakeholder meetings,” Warren said. “And I believe everyone will be very impressed with [Hicks].” Serving thedistrict In general, the role of the super- intendent is to lead a school district and work with the board of trustees to create policies that guide the dis- trict, said Deborah Cron, who is the GoLead11 Superintendent Program specialist at Education Service Center Region 11, which covers Northwest ISD in addition to 76 other school districts throughout Cooke, Denton, Wise, Palo Pinto, Parker, Tarrant, Erath, Hood, Somervell and Johnson counties. “In truth, the buck stops at the superintendent’s desk for all areas of the district,” Cron said. “The single most important job of the superin- tendent is to keep students safe and to ensure that they are learning what they need to know to be successful and productive citizens.” The superintendent must always look to put students’ needs first, she said. However, the Texas public school finance system is complex, and dis- tricts must live within the constraints of that system. Superintendents must also priori- tize what is most important for their
district and ensure that these needs are addressed in the budget, Cron said. At NISD, the superintendent oversees a roughly $243 million budget, accord- ing to NISD Executive Communica- tions Director Anthony Tosie. “There are many, many concerns and needs that seek to grab a super- intendent’s attention, and some of those will require the superinten- dent’s time,’’ Cron said. “However, the first and foremost work of the superintendent should be on student learning for every child.” One of the many “hats” a superin- tendent wears is developing a strong relationship with the board of trust- ees, Cron said. The superintendent and the sev- en-member board of trustees are col- lectively known as a district’s team of eight, former Richardson ISD trustee Kim Caston said. After her 14-year ten- ure with the RISD board ended in June, the Texas Education Agency autho- rized Caston to provide team-of-eight training for districts statewide. “The team of eight is really most effective when the board and super- intendent lead and manage the dis- trict within their respective roles,” Caston said.
COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM
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