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McLean Citizens Association Weighs In on Schools Superintendent Search

Group passed resolution Wednesday on hunt for new head of Fairfax County Public Schools.

The McLean Citizens Association wants a school superintendent that will "appreciate and do the best to educate every child" and "be willing to challenge the status quo."

The group, the unofficial town council in McLean, passed a resolution expressing these wishes, among others during the association's monthly meeting on Wednesday. The resolution will be forwarded to the Fairfax County School Board for consideration.

"The current superintendent in was sort of selected in secret," said Louise Epstein, secretary of the citizens association. "You shouldn't rely just on a headhunting firm and twelve very busy school (board) members."

Fairfax County Public Schools issued a request for proposal for a search consultant July 3 during which six to 10 or more proposals could be received.

In July, the Fairfax County School Board named nine members to a committee tasked with reviewing bids from superintendent search firms in July, putting the board on track to hire a consultant to lead the selection process sometime in October.

The board's committee has met in closed session several times over the past week, and plans to meet again in closed session Friday, but has not yet announced the selection of a consultant.

Ed Saperstein, the chairman of the association's education committee, said the process for selecting a new superintendent encourages public input.

The resolution mentions several qualities in an ideal candidate, including someone who embraces innovation, fosters an open dialogue between the school board and the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and someone who encourages cooperation with the community.

"(The resolution) is not a checklist, but it's things to consider...These are some of the characteristics we'd like you to look for," Saperstein said.

Some board members said the sentiment of the resolution was obvious.

"This is like voting for apple pie or motherhood. There's nothing really wrong with it...we need to put some teeth in this," said board member Joe Gibson. 

The board passed amendments to the resolution specifying the association wants a superintendent with a demonstrated record of raising student performance and someone who succeeded in leading another school system during "periods of flat or declining revenue."

"We're paying this guy a quarter of a million dollars," said Mark Zetts, a citizens association board member. "He better damn well be good."

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