The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, June 18, 2019 1:00 am

FWCS to start process to choose new boss

Board set to meet this week

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne Community Schools leaders will take the first steps this week to select the district's next leader.

Superintendent Wendy Robinson's contract expires June 30, 2020, and she has said she will not seek an extension.

A work session is scheduled Thursday for school board members to discuss the search for Robinson's replacement. No votes will be taken, according to an agenda for the public meeting.

The panel will discuss plans and “a rough timeline” for the search in a closed-door meeting Wednesday, board President Julie Hollingsworth said.

“We will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss options, such as the advantages and disadvantages of using a national search firm,” she said in an email.

Robinson – a former FWCS teacher and deputy superintendent – was hired in 2003, after former Superintendent Thomas Fowler-Finn left for a job in Massachusetts. Board members in 2017 approved a one-year extension to her contract that included a $210,164 annual salary. Robinson, 68, said at the time she would leave after the 2020 school year.

District officials since have discussed finding a replacement in general terms, but the meetings this week represent the first concrete efforts to search for new leadership.

Still, there are unknowns.

The board must decide how long the search should last and where it should be directed. Members will discuss how to include the public in the search and whether to scour the country for a new superintendent or focus on candidates already employed by FWCS.

They also will consider hiring a firm to guide the search. Michael Adamson of the Indiana School Boards Association will meet with board members Wednesday to discuss that.

It's a process foreign to most members of the seven-member school board. Only one member – Vice President Steve Corona – was on the board the last time a superintendent was hired.

Corona, who took his seat on the board in 1981, said he expects the district to engage with the public to get input on traits the next superintendent should possess. That includes holding public meetings where stakeholders can speak, he said.

Robinson has received praise for her work on academic achievement and with the teachers union, state lawmakers and the community. In 2017, she was named Superintendent of the Year by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents.

Corona expects the FWCS job to be an attractive one to candidates, citing strong board leadership and sound financial decision-making. But he said Robinson will be hard to replace.

“We have been awfully blessed by the leadership of Dr. Robinson,” Corona said.

The executive session Wednesday will begin at 5 p.m. at the Grile Administration Center, 1200 S. Clinton St. The work session is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Thursday in the center's cafeteria.

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