Tri-City Beat: Meet Milt

The Argus Tri-City Beat blog has posted a nice little entry about Milt, the new interim superintendent of FUSD replacing Doug Gephart.

I think having a leader with strong instructional background is crucial, especially with the focus by the state and federal government on testing and accountability. It takes a lot of work and experience to meet the accountability requirements without losing sight of the students.

I first met Milt several years ago when he was principal at Washington High School. I was also on the board when we hired him into his previous role as Assistant Superintendent of Instruction. He was a great choice then and is a great interim choice now.

UPDATE: I wanted to expand on my thoughts a little. Milt is a great interim choice. Stepping into that interim role give the board time to carefully consider how to select the next superintendent and at the same time provides stability and continuity for the district. However, selecting a permanent superintendent requires much more careful evaluation. The board will need to consider how he or she matches the board's vision and goals for the district as well as his or her fit with the staff, parents, community, and students. I talked about this a bit more in my previous post - Superintendent Doug Gephart retires.

Superintendent Doug Gephart retires

As reported in the Argus (Inside Bay Area - NEW: Fremont schools superintendent to retire), today Fremont Unified School District announced that Superintendent Doug Gephart will be retiring at the end of this school year (June 30, 2008). They also named Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Milt Werner the Interim Superintendent for the 2008-09 school year. I want to wish Doug all the best in retirement.

Finding a superintendent is a time consuming and difficult process. The board made the right decision to name Milt as interim superintendent giving them plenty of time to carefully decide how to select the right one. The superintendent is the most important position in a school district and for Fremont is like the CEO of a $270+ million corporation. His or her leadership is crucial. Selecting a superintendent is the most important decision a school board will ever make.

To find the best superintendent you want the best pool of applicants possible. Generally, the best talent will be taken first, so the earlier you start the better. I'm sure the school board will start this process by September if not earlier. Anyone newly elected next fall will have to come up to speed extremely quickly.

I know. I was in that situation when I was appointed to the board in 2006, I got first hand experience negotiating the superintendent's contract and setting his goals. It's not something many people have experience with. At that time I took advantage of the California School Boards Association's resources to help inform me. I also sought advice from two former school district superintendents. WIthout a doubt that information was critical to my decisions, and I would not have been effective without those relationships.

You also must not underestimate the ripple effect a change in leadership has throughout an organization. Milt is an excellent choice and will be a great leader through this changeover. I know the board and the team Doug assembled I know will do a fantastic job guiding FUSD through this transition.

One final note: While we share a similar last name, Doug Gephart and I are not related.
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