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.

Speeches and Writings added

I have added a new section to the web site with some of my speeches and writings from my time on the school board. You will learn a lot about my views on education and the role of a school board member in these writings.

FUSD Boundary Maps

I recently stumbled across great attendance area maps on the Fremont Unified School District web site. The Parent Resource Information - Attendance Area contains a list of which schools are in which attendance area along with easy to print maps.

Web site update - changed blog theme

I changed the blog page from the school chalkboard theme the rest of the site uses as that them didn't work very well for blocking. This theme works much better with my blogging software.

I'll be playing around with the look of the web site a lot over the next few months. Let me know what you think of it. Contact me here.

Visualize API scores with School Performance Maps

Recently a friend pointed out this cool site to me. It provides a map interface to look at California school API scores. A picture is worth a thousand words, so...

Fremont API Map

Each pin corresponds to a different elementary or secondary school. The colors represent their average API base rank from 2004 to 2006. I clicked on the Mission SJ High School pin above.

Click here to see the map above.

CAUTIONARY NOTE: School API scores are but one measure of a school's performance and a volatile one at that. It doesn't take much for a school's score to change by 10-50 points. I encourage anyone interested in a measuring schools to visit the school. Talk to the principal and teachers. Look at how involved the parents and community are. Those are just as important measures.

My First Post

I am excited to announce that I am running for the Fremont Unified School District’s Board of Education in November 2008. I am also excited to announce my first blog.

Through this blog I hope to reach out to all people -- parents, students, teachers, community members, etc. I will share with you:
  • Campaign news,
  • Insights into Fremont schools and current school policies in California and the U.S., and
  • More about my education philosophy.

My goal is to update this blog several times a month. Watch this blog for campaign and school board news!

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