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Residents: Hold new Longview ISD chief to higher standards

By Richard Yeakley
March 17, 2014 at 10 p.m.


Longview ISD's new superintendent needs to be held accountable to higher academic standards, community stakeholders said Monday.

"I would ask you to do this: Hold that superintendent to the same standard you hold the football coach. If a football coach goes 0-10 two years in a row, he is out of there, without any questions … whoever that person is, say these are the standards we are going to have, and if you don't reach that standard, we will get somebody else," John Ray said halfway through the hour-long session.

The characteristic was one of 18 qualities residents asked for during a community meeting Monday about the search for a new head of schools.

The meeting was one of two public input sessions scheduled for administration and members of the school board to hear community suggestions as applications for the role of superintendent continue to be submitted through the end of the month. The second meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. today.

Once the application window has closed, Superintendent James Wilcox, who moderated the forum, will select six to eight candidates to present before the Board of Trustees. Interviews and follow-ups will be held, and a finalist will be selected.

The trustees will have access to all applications, not just the handful vetted by Wilcox.

"One reason you guys are called trustees is because theoretically we trust you … What is important to me more than anything else is that you use the same judgment that you use in your business, you use in your military life. ... All I ask is that you do the same thing," Ray said to Board President Ted Beard.

Incoming trustee Ginia Northcutt, who ran unopposed to replace John Harrison and will begin her tenure on the body in May, asked Beard why the school board selected Wilcox to lead the search for his replacement.

"The individuals that Dr. Wilcox has access to and knowledge of, not just in the state of Texas, but nationwide as to individuals that can do the job … he has knowledge of how that process works," Beard said. "Keeping in mind … what is in the best interest of the students, collectively the board thought that Dr. Wilcox can go ahead and, with our charge to him, bring us candidates for us to review and also for the community look at with their input and see what is in the best interest for the students to move this district forward."

Beard said while many people on paper may have the success to work at Longview ISD, it would take a particular candidate to understand Longview's minority and lower-economic population.

The search for a new superintendent kicked into gear after Wilcox announced in November that he would step down by January 2015.

Wilcox was first hired by Longview ISD in 2007. He came to the district from a job in Waxahachie ISD.

He was rehired in 2012 by the district as an interim, part-time superintendent, aiding in the search for a permanent replacement.

Other residents voiced they were looking for a superintendent with an open door policy, a focus on discipline and standards, and the courage to make changes, if needed, to make the district more successful.

"I am looking for a superintendent that will be for the children and bring discipline back in the classroom," said former teacher James McLemore, who added that he saw a lack of punishment for wrongdoing during his tenure.

Branden Johnson, president of the Longview chapter of the NAACP, presented a list of concerns, including an increased focus on mentoring.

Gary "G." Floyd, a candidate for the District 3 seat on the Longview City Council and a regular voice at Longview ISD school board meetings, presented five characteristics he looked for in a new leader. That list included being willing to meet a goal of a 90 percent high school graduation rate within the first three years because of a focus on academics.

<p style="text-align: center;">*

<h3>LISD superintendent timeline</h3>

<strong>April 2007:</strong> James Wilcox hired by Longview ISD from Waxahachie ISD.

<strong>Dec. 31, 2011:</strong> Wilcox retires from Longview ISD.

<strong>Feb. 6, 2012:</strong> Longview ISD school board rehires Wilcox as a part-time superintendent.

<strong>Nov. 19:</strong> Wilcox announces he is leaving the district by the end of 2014.

<h3>Tentative Longview ISD superintendent search timeline</h3>

<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Interviews</span>

<strong>April 28:</strong> 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

<strong>April 29:</strong> 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

<strong>May 1:</strong> 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

<strong>May 2:</strong> 6:30 p.m.  -  Review candidates at 8:30 p.m.

<span style="text-decoration: underline;">Other meetings</span>

<strong>May 5: 7 p.m.:</strong> Follow-up with finalist - dinner if desired

<strong>May 6: 7 p.m.: </strong> Follow-up with finalist - dinner if desired

<strong>May 12: 7 p.m.:</strong> Board meeting at Education Support Center; name lone finalist, if desired

<strong>June 9: 7 p.m.:</strong> Board meeting at Education Support Center; name lone finalist, if not done May 12

<strong>July 1:</strong> Contract begins

<em>Note: Newly elected superintendent may begin daily rate basis before  July 1, if board desires.</em>

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