Steamboat Springs A high school senior said the next superintendent of Steamboat schools should develop strong relationships with local students.
"With the previous superintendent, we haven't had a personal connection between the district and kids," said Charlie Stoddard, a senior at Steamboat Springs High School. "I would also like to see more of a presence in the school, showing that they are talking to us and getting to know us. : It's not a huge district, so it's possible to make that connection."
Stoddard was one of 11 students who participated in focus groups Monday, as a consultant asked parents, teachers, administrators and other district stakeholders what sort of person they wanted as the next Steamboat Springs School District superintendent.
"There's always different answers because people are looking at the district from different perspectives," said Bob Cito, with the Colorado Association of School Boards. Cito has been hired to conduct Steamboat's superintendent search.
"But there are always common themes, and some common threads, that run through it," he continued. "In Steamboat, communication was something that was mentioned most often, and it was addressed on many levels."
Former Steamboat Springs City Councilwoman Karen Post was one of about 120 community members who participated in the focus groups, which Cito said are the cornerstone in finding the perfect candidate to meet the needs of a community.
"I would like a superintendent that would collaborate with city and business interests," said Post, the mother of a Steamboat Springs Middle School student.
"Coming (to the focus group) as an ex-city council member, one of the things we were disappointed with the previous superintendent was that she didn't work with the city," she continued. "There is a great opportunity here for the next superintendent to look beyond the fiefdom of the school and not look at things from the school, city or business perspective, but as a sense of collaboration."
Miriam Pensack, a junior at the high school, said there is a perception among students that administrators don't always understand that their job is to serve kids.
"I like somebody that communicates and somebody who is up to date with students," she said. "How can you make the most accurate and beneficial decisions for students when you don't know what they are thinking?"
Cito said using focus groups is an important part of any superintendent hiring process.
"We had themes that came across from traits they would like to see in a superintendent," he said. "It's one of the best ways in the search to identify candidates that will have the best chance of leading the school district to future success."
CASB officials will compile the focus group results into a report for Steamboat Springs School Board members. The report will be used to publish a job advertisement, which is expected to be completed by Feb. 4.
"It's the initiation of the search process, because what we wanted to do is get more knowledge about the community and identify the strengths of the district and challenges that the new superintendent would face," he said.
Post said Cito may have a tough job finding a candidate that matches all of the community's wishes.
"Hopefully, what they gleaned out of it are some specifics and that they heard enough stuff to help them focus in on someone," she said. "Given what I heard last night, we want the moon."