Thursday, March 31, 2022

Shifting Odds on RISD's Superintendent Search

Sherry Clemens, Eron Linn, Vanessa Pacheco

Yesterday, I analyzed one key question from the forum of Richardson ISD District 2 school board candidates Sherry Clemens, Vanessa Pacheco, and Eron Linn (incumbent), hosted by the Berkner High School PTA. Today, reading between the lines, I speculate that we might have learned some significant news from another question. At least, it changes the odds that I would place on the job search for a new superintendent.

The key clues were in the replies to this question: "What characteristics do you think makes up a qualified superintendent?"

Sherry Clemens's answer was, "I would want our superintendent that we hire to enable a vision of unity. I believe they need to have experience leading another district and that they've produced educational outcomes in that district. ..."

I guess that "All means all" isn't a vision of unity for Clemens, not coming from Dr. Stone anyway. But that isn't news. Read between the lines and you can draw a more significant conclusion. "Experience leading another district" means that Clemens is stacking the deck against Tabitha Branum. Branum is Interim Superintendent of RISD, sure, but she never "led another district." So expect Clemens, if she's elected May 7, to vote against any motion to give Branum the permanent position. That's not news, either.

There was another answer that was more significant. Eron Linn said, "I think the next superintendent needs to be an educator, strong in curriculum and instruction. A history of success is important. I totally agree with that. I also think it's important to be knowledgeable about the district and also be a good manager." Between a lot of generic attributes, Linn slips in that "important to be knowledgeable about the district." That's an attribute you use if you want to hire from within. And who is the most likely hire from within the district? Interim Superintendent Tabitha Branum, of course. In response to a different question, Linn said, "We're kind of at this crossroads. The district needs stability and we have a fantastic leader that we've appointed, Tabitha Branum, who was the Deputy Superintendent who I have known ever since I came on the board of trustees six years ago. She's a great leader, a great person and I think we are in good hands right now with Tabitha at the helm." If that's not signaling that Branum will be his choice for the permanent position, then it's a cruel boxing feint. Only this isn't a boxing match and there's no reason for him to feint, so let's hope this isn't a dirty move on his part. For now, take him at his word but remember those words well.

It will take four votes on the board to pick anyone for the job. If Linn is leaning towards the experienced, interim job-holder for the permanent job, and Vanessa Pacheco is open to the idea as well, it will be more difficult for, say, Megan Timme and Chris Poteet to assemble the four votes needed to deny the job to Branum. But if Clemens wins and, say, Jan Stell wins in District 5, then in May Branum could very well be cleaning out her desk and updating her résumé.

1 comment:

Mark Steger said...

Video of the whole forum has been posted by the Berkner PTA on YouTube.