As the start date for the new superintendent of the Douglas County School District approaches, members of the school board are in the process of reviewing an entry plan with goals and expectations …
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As the start date for the new superintendent of the Douglas County School District approaches, members of the school board are in the process of reviewing an entry plan with goals and expectations for him.
Thomas Tucker, superintendent of Princeton City Schools in Cincinnati, Ohio, since 2015, will start as superintendent in Douglas County on July 1. The school board selected Tucker in April, after a months-long, nationwide search.
At a June 19 school board meeting, members discussed Tucker's entry plan with him via speakerphone. Tucker has not yet relocated to Douglas County.
Board member Kevin Leung raised questions about how Tucker will foster a relationship with the community. He pointed to 2010, when the former school board hired Elizabeth Fagen as superintendent. She introduced evaluation and salary systems that many people say spurred an exodus of quality educators from the district.
“We had a disaster experience last time around,” Leung said to Tucker. “What will you do to ensure you're here for the community?”
Tucker's entry plan outlines the “nonnegotiable” aspects of his role: serve students by acting with integrity and honesty, remain focused on student success and academic achievement, explore opportunities to increase the district's performance, model lifelong learning and professionalism, promote risk-taking and cultivate innovation.
“It's important that I personally know as many of our 68,000 students as possible,” Tucker said during the phone call. “It shouldn't be a big surprise when I come into the building.”
Tucker's action plan is made up of four goals: create a structure to listen and learn about Douglas County School District; establish a strong working relationship with the board of education; study the district's student-performance status and budget; and promote a culture of excellence with a focus on student achievement.
Each goal has a list of bullet points detailing how the goal will be achieved, as well as a timeline of either 30, 60 or 90 days from Tucker's start date.
In the June 19 conversation, Tucker highlighted the board's five end-statements, approved in March to serve as continuous goals for the school district. They include academic excellence, outstanding educators and staff, positive climate and culture, collaborative relations with the community and financial wellbeing.
“The end statements should anchor the work of our district,” Tucker said. “Everyone in our district — all 8,000 plus employees — should know what those five end statements are.”
School board President David Ray asked that Tucker meet with interim Superintendent Erin Kane to foster a smooth transition. Kane was hired in 2016 after Fagen resigned and took a position in the Humble Independent School District in Texas. Ray commended Kane for her work in the district during a tumultuous period.
“For me, it would be really helpful if there was some kind of joint communication between you and Dr. tucker that made some statement — that captures the work you've done,” Ray said to Kane, who said she would consider the request.
Ray commended Tucker for his focus on building relationships with the business community.
"Career tech education has been a concern," Ray said. "I'd love for us to really say, 'No, we also are interested in other paths that students might take, especially around career tech education.'"
Tucker will be tasked with hiring several new people for the district's cabinet, including including chief human resource officer, general counsel and chief operating officer.
School board member Anne-Marie Lemieux noted the importance of including school principals in the hiring process. She also asked Tucker to define the specifics of funding needs in the district.
“Resources, programming and our buildings are our very specific needs,” she said. “When you say needs, what does that mean to you?”
Tucker agreed, adding that “both security and student mental health can be right there under student finances.”
Tucker will take into consideration the board's comments and recommendations for his entry plan. The conversation will continue at a retreat with board members and Tucker scheduled for July 14.
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