School Board Readies For Change In District Leadership

Superintendent Winfred Roberson at a 2014 press conference
Superintendent Winfred Roberson at a 2014 press conference

By Nicholas von Wettberg

Come Thursday evening, the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) Board of Education is scheduled to address the likelihood of a search for a new Superintendent.

In the DJUSD Board of Education closed session prior to the open meeting on February 4, two items on the docket are as a result of Superintendent Winfred Roberson’s interest in accepting an offer for the same position from the Glendale School District.

The agenda’s third item is a public employee performance evaluation of the superintendent job. The fifth item is a public employee appointment of an interim superintendent, and both items are actions that, two weeks ago, would have seemed misplaced.

According to the Glendale School District, an official offer will not be made until February 16, although it does have all the makings of a done deal.

There is a provision in Roberson’s contract that requires him to give a 60-day notice before moving on for good.

Under an interim supervisor tag, chances are the permanent position will not be handed down internally, as it was to Roberson back in June 2010, when he was quickly promoted from Davis High School principal.

An extensive search, however, is just as unlikely. The reason for a search began last weekend when Roberson gave a heads up to Sunder that he was named the “preferred candidate” in a superintendent search from a different region.

The board met in a closed session bright and early Sunday morning, January 24, along with Roberson, for his performance evaluation. Three days later, the Glendale School District announced it had offered Roberson the position.

There has been speculation that he would choose the tightly knit community, to which he has become connected and made a difference in, rather than a district three times its size.

But if there’s one thing DJUSD stakeholders have learned in the past decade or so, it is that the position brings with it some level of volatility.

The last Superintendent, with eight or more years of service, was David Murphy, who began in 1998 and led the district until his retirement in 2006.

While the district experienced its share of turmoil under the leadership of Roberson, it has been his ability to handle the budget, engage with the public, and work in unison with the board to achieve its goals that, in the end, proved to be the building blocks of a five-year resume worthy enough to gain the attention of his potential future employer.

With a parcel tax renewal on its way, the board could feel that a sweeping search may not be prudent planning, especially considering what was presented in the governor’s January update, which stressed the importance of economic preparedness.

Along with costs from a far-reaching search is the time incurred by the board in a potential selection process, consisting, perhaps, of a short list of candidates that “best fit the system.”

The mention of a professional search indicates that the board, if presented with the opportunity, would not attempt to repeat their luck in the hiring of another first-time superintendent.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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8 Comments

  1. Misanthrop

    “The mention of a professional search indicates that the board, if presented with the opportunity, would not attempt to repeat their luck in the hiring of another first-time superintendent.”

    It will be hard for them to find someone who is already a superintendent since Davis is a small district. They could bring in someone retired as an interim but to get someone with experience they would likely have to come from an even smaller district.

    The likely scenario is to get an Assistant or Associate Superintendent who wants to move up.  However, what is really important is matching the skill set and character of the person chosen to the needs of the district, that is where the discussion should be focused.

      1. wdf1

        Roberson was a principal before being superintendent.  If that model of selection were used, then presumably most principals might be also considered, as well as some key district office staff.

      2. Tia Will

        DP

        Since I have no knowledge of the current administration of the school district, I found your comment too vague to be useful. I understand if you are not willing to name names, but am wondering if you would be willing to share what you see as the essential qualities for the post of superintendent and which of these qualities the likely local candidates would have and/or lack ?

  2. Tia Will

    Misanthrop

    what is really important is matching the skill set and character of the person chosen to the needs of the district, that is where the discussion should be focused.”

    I agree that for a community with as much engagement of current parents and other individuals with a close affiliation with our schools,  that character or finding a good fit will be critical.

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