BUSD renews search for superintendent

Superintendant Bill Huyett will stay on past June 30 so school board can continue searching for his replacement

The Berkeley Board of Education voted on Thursday to initiate a new search for the position of Superintendent after an first round of interviews failed to throw up a suitable candidate. Incumbent superintendent Bill Huyett has agreed to extend his contract to give the board time to find his replacement.

In a statement, the Board said that a broader search was needed “to find the candidate that possessed the unique qualities desired in the next Superintendent.”

“The Board of Education is taking its responsibility of finding a good match for the District seriously,” said Board President John Selawsky. “The process of interviewing several candidates has already helped us to more clearly identify the kind of leader we are looking for. We have very high expectations for our next superintendent and I am optimistic that we will find the right match for the District in the next few months.”

Bill Huyett announced his intention to retire in December 2011 and was due to leave his post on June 30. The board held a series of public meetings with school staff and members of the community earlier this year to draw up the profile for the new appointment and held interviews in the past few weeks. It had been expected to announce a new superintendent imminently.

Related:
What does Berkeley want from its new schools head? [03.14.12]
Berkeley schools superintendent Bill Huyett to retire [12.06.11]

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  • http://berkeley.accountableschools.com/ Berkeley Accountable Schools

    Numbers please:  how many candidates did they interview?  What assurances are there that the “very high expectations for our next superintendent” remain reasonable and realistic?  

  • Heather_W_62

    Hopefully they’ll hire someone who actually sticks with the job for more than 5 years? I mean really, we are investing in this position, the person needs to invest in US in return. Huyett may or may not have done much good (I’m not his biggest fan), but he clearly came here to finish out his career and retire with a feather in his cap and a fine penson.

  • jjohannson

    I’m glad you admit you’re not his biggest fan (though it’s not clear why).  Otherwise, your comments have little relationship to the actual creativity, vision, budget savvy, and personal commitment Huyett put into this post.  Your baseless criticism just doesn’t compute.

  • Heather_W_62

    It’s nice he has one person endorsing him before he makes his exit. 

  • Anonymous

     What criticism?  That people just seem to hold onto the position long enough to collect the obscene pension? Your baseless praise of him just doesn’t compute given the sorry state of one of the wealthiest districts in the country.

  • Completely_Serious

    Who in their right mind would want this job?

  • Bruce Love

    Hmm.   The district always talks loudly about its unexpected or unplanned revenue shortfalls, state cutbacks, etc.   And yet…

    The district has something on the order $12,000 (a little more, really)
    in general fund revenue each year, per enrolled
    student, across all grade levels.   In a classroom of 28, that $336,000
    per year.   If you assume that lower grades naturally cost less, we’re looking at per-classroom revenues on par with some of the most expensive and academically successful private schools in the nation.

    http://www.berkeleyschools.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/budget-Forum-march-2012-April19th.pdf

    (General fund revenue against enrollment size is buried on page 19 of that report.  The actual number is more like $12,500 per student per year.)

    It’s popular to suspect the individual personalities operating the district at any one time but I have a hard time believing that the palpable inefficiencies aren’t more strongly rooted in the decision making structure of the institutions.    To me it seems like we have money to do “N” educational philosophies really well, for some value of “N”, but the stakeholders wind up sliced and diced in such a way that we try to do “N+10″ approaches, reliably blowing the budget.

  • Heather_W_62

    If I understand you correctly, I agree with you that we have X dollars to commit to certain educational projects, and that we then try to get a hypothetical 10 off-shoot projects going with the same dollars, thus exploiting our own budget. 

    However, I think the superintendent is greatly responsible for this and has, himself, diluted our programs by ostensibly nickel and diming the budget without proven return on the investment — for instance, the monies granted to BOCA, i.e. Pastor McBryde (and his wife) now on the payroll, but we’ve heard nothing about what his program is actively doing, whether or not it is succeeding, failing, or effectively doing anything at all. 

  • Bruce Love

    However, I think the superintendent is greatly responsible for this and
    has, himself, diluted our programs by ostensibly nickel and diming the
    budget without proven return on the investment  [.... BOCA .... McBryde (and his wife) ....]

    I think you attribute more (or at least very different) power to the superintendent position than it has.   And, at the same time, you go on to illustrate what I mean by the stakeholders being sliced and diced, and distracted by a focus on interpersonal suspicions.

  • Anonymous

     The same sort of person that wants to be an executive in a corporation….a good salary for what amounts to not a lot of productive work but you get lots of credit and, when it’s impossible to blame on external forces outside your control, some of the blame.  You have to look good on paper though, unlike the corporate world.

  • Heather_W_62

    I think the superintendent has the support of the Board and will him/herself fund projects as the head of the district with support of the board. 

    I have no “interpersonal” suspicions. I have had interactions with the current superintendent and seen him behave poorly to people in public forums during which it seemed he was determined to further an agenda without any interest in working with the community (or even be civil to the community) in regard to decisions that have been made. 

    As to BOCA, it seems to me the Board and superintendent were sold a bill of goods, and I say this because since the BOCA programs was hired on, we haven’t heard a peep about progress or even the program itself.  If there have been any results from this investment, the community (at least this member) would like to hear about it. 

  • Bruce Love

     

    I think the superintendent has the support of the Board and will him/herself fund projects as the head of the district with support of
    the board.

    Ok, from that starting point…. my next question is what it is specifically that leads to “the support of the Board”.   For the most part, I don’t think it is individual whim.   I don’t think it’s quite as simple as blaming the people on the board.

    As much as you dislike, say, the BOCA decisions — they don’t come out of thin air and there are other constituencies of the board very much in support of them.   And so it goes.   The community is divided.  The board reflects that.

    Obviously we can’t expect the body politic to ever be fully united behind an overall vision of the core responsibilities of the school system but at BUSD it seems like we optimize against consensus.  Examples of how that happens include the small schools system at the HS and the approach taken to multi-campus dual immersion.   Can you imagine what it would take, at this stage, to dismantle the small schools system?   Thus the stakeholders are sliced and diced, divided and conquered.   With such high revenues per student, that’s pretty tragic.

    I have no “interpersonal” suspicions.

    What I mean by interpersonal suspicions is exemplified by your (in my view) attributing to much power to the superintendent in the way I described above.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    What I mean by interpersonal suspicions is exemplified by your (in my view) attributing too much power to the superintendent in the way I described above.

    Aren’t you the pseudonym of the guy who wrote an Opinionator piece today contending that the city manager has too much power? If that’s your definition of intrapersonal suspicions, why is it OK when you express them?

    Also, you presented the intrapersonal suspicions slur as distinct from the too much power claim when you wrote:

    And, at the same time, you go on to illustrate what I mean by the stakeholders being sliced and diced, and distracted by a focus on interpersonal suspicions.

    So that didn’t make much sense either.

  • Bruce Love

     

    Aren’t you the pseudonym of the guy who wrote an Opinionator piece today contending that the city manager has too much power?

    No.

    In the opinion piece I argued that the City Manager has great power but unfortunately low levels of public and council review and oversight for the particular powers granted.   I suggested remedies.

    In this thread, I am saying that the superintendent of schools does not by fiat determine BUSD’s relationships with, for example, BOCA.

    If that’s your definition of intrapersonal suspicions, why is it OK when you express them?

    Well, see above.   I think your question doesn’t make any sense.  You are comparing two entirely different things.

  • Anonymous

    It’s even more outrageous when you consider how much families, through their PTAs, pay for directly.  If the small number of families at our school who contribute this money and time (and they are by no means just the rich ones) at our elementary school disappeared so would PE, library books, classroom books and materials that the teacher didn’t buy themselves, after school enrichment programs, the ELD teacher, many field trips, and basically most of the stuff that people assume our additional taxes pay for that other school districts aren’t lucky enough to have.  We’ve also had to purchase basic furniture like bookshelves for classrooms and office much needed office equipment.  From what I’ve heard our school is no different than the other elementary schools in this regard.

    So other than music and fixed class sizes where does this extra roughly $5K per student that Berkeley tax payers go?  Why is BUSD one of the few districts in the state not to make their salary and compensation information public? Why is it so difficult for the district, not just in the report you linked to but when you ask in person at budget meetings, to give a clear item by item breakdown of how BSEP funds are spent without resorting to weasel phrases like “expanded course offerings” and “outreach”?  What exactly are the the nearly 1 million dollars spent yearly on “mental health services” for and why do we spend literally orders of magnitude more than neighboring districts on this (Hyuett was asked directly about this in the meeting where he presented these slides and his only answer was something like “we have a very diverse student population” but he didn’t know, or wouldn’t share, what these services are or why we are more “diverse” than Oakland or Richmond)?  And they continue to come up with new ways spend money and increase the size of the administration while at the same time crying about how broke they are. The recent decree that the TWI programs will be consolidated at one school is, for all I know, a fine idea but that’s not the point; right now we can’t afford the estimated $100K in additional busing costs much less whatever new administration costs are associated with it when we’re looking at a having our ADA money slashed next year.

    I used to vote for anything that gave the schools more money either through bonds (which I usually don’t vote for) or taxes.  Now that I have kids in BUSD and I see first hand what a financial disaster it is I will never vote for another tax or bond until there is a top to bottom third-party audit, a complete purge of the bloated and ineffectual administration, and some reasonable accounting put in place.  When you combine the BSEP taxes with all of the money we donate and everything we have to spend out of pocket for extra math and science enrichment that’s actually challenging (since, as you probably know, the priority for the district is underachieving kids and everyone else is on their own) a mid-cost private school would have been a wash.  When you factor in that we actually moved to Berkeley so that when we had kids they could go to school here we just look like suckers.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    In this thread, I am saying that the superintendent of schools does not by fiat determine BUSD’s relationships with, for example, BOCA.

    I think you’re kidding yourself.  The BUSD Board is entirely reactive — they’ve shown next to no initiative that I can detect and instead merely react to proposals from unelected staff.  Ergo, the superintendent is setting the agenda and has the same or more power than the city manager in the other setting.

  • The Sharkey

     Come clean – are you Bill’s mom?  ;-)

  • The Sharkey

    Looks like Bruce is going back down the rabbit hole. Too bad – the Opinionator piece was a real breath of fresh air.

  • Bruce Love

      PragmaticProgressive, do we speak different dialects of english or something?  I think you are largely agreeing with me though you seem to think otherwise.

    I think you’re kidding yourself.  The BUSD Board is entirely reactive — they’ve shown next to no initiative that I can detect and instead merely react to proposals from unelected staff.

    Yes, I think that is a lot of what happens.  That’s a key part of the decision making process.  That’s a good example of what I’m talking about.  And because the institution is so factionalized, those proposals that bubble up pull the district in too many directions at once.   I think it would be a mistake to think that the factions put forward proposals entirely in isolation: the public stakeholders are correspondingly factionalized.   For an elected, the different proposals that come forward correspond to distinct (though sometimes overlapping) interest groups within the electorate.

    Ergo, the superintendent is setting the agenda [....]

    I draw a distinction between authority and power.   It seems to me that in what you describe, the staff has most of the de facto power over what proposals come up, and the board’s authority is mostly spent arranging these on the agenda.   Staff’s power and the board’s weakness here derives from the observation that the board relies on staff to actually implement any programs instituted.  (Example: when Superintendent Lawrence initially ceded, after earlier objections, to bottom-up proposals to implement small schools at BHS.)

    Where I think we’d agree is that a visionary superintendent with good leadership skills could use his or her bully pulpit to build popular support for big changes to the institutional structure, shaking up the entrenched lines of factionalization.   He’d have to win hearts and minds in the electorate and the staff.   (Elected board members could also play that role, if we had such a candidate.)

    and has the same or more power than the city manager in the other setting.

    I’m wary of such an abstract comparison.  There are similarities but also differences.   One difference is that while council has nearly no role in staff disciplinary matters, the school board does (as mandated by state law).   Another difference is that while council has nearly no direct role in the oversight of how departments are internally structured, the school board has a direct role in issues that effect factionalization, like the creation of small schools at the high school.   

  • bgal4

    must be a seriously divided school board