Reed contract almost final
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle's School Board is finalizing the details of Dr. Mike Reed's contract to become the system's next superintendent. But before he was selected for the system's top job, he answered 56 questions during his interview with the school board.
Subjects ranged from school system philosophy and finance to curriculum development and community involvement. Some of the questions and his answers follow:
Question: What do you consider to be your greatest strengths for this position?
Answer: Experience and leadership ability. I've held just about every leadership position there is in education…classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent.
Question: What do you consider to be the most important duties of a superintendent?
Answer: Responsibility for the children is number one. I'm their advocate. To keep the school board in the red and out of the black is important, too.
Question: What are your views on testing and test scores?
Answer: They are mixed. We test too much. That's because test scores are what we're being judged by, and we must do the best possible job.
Question: What methods have you used to improve test scores?
Answer: In Butler County we have hired retired teachers to work with students who are having difficulty keeping up in class. They are available to assist students before and after school and on Saturdays.
Question: What is the most effective method of educating students and parents about college scholarships and financial aid?
Answer: If the school district can afford it, have the high school guidance counselor to work on nothing but scholarship opportunities for students. We did that in Gulfport, Miss., where scholarship offers to graduating seniors totaled more than $3 million a year. You also need to make sure that students and parents are aware of the scholarships being offered.
Question: What relationship should exist between the superintendent and board of education?
Answer: One of mutual respect and trust. They should set goals together and work in harmony to provide the best possible education for students.
Question: What is your approach to student discipline? Give examples of handling difficult situations.
Answer: I'm a strict disciplinarian. You must have order before learning can occur. I expect principals and teachers to be fair but firm in maintaining order. When I was an assistant principal, the principal's son was sent to my office with a serious offense. I suspended him and then called his dad. He asked me what his son did and when I told him he backed me up.
Question:What would your reaction be if the board disagreed with a policy you believed to be educationally sound?
Answer: I would explain to the board why I thought the policy was educationally sound. I would tell you it's your policy and I'll implement it and enforce it if you approve it. My role is to be your education advisor.
Question: Have you been successful in getting bond issues, taxes, etc. passed? How would you go about getting support for these?
Answer: I was involved in helping to get three bond issues approved for new schools while I was in Mississippi. My first year in Butler County, voters were asked to renew 11 mills of ad valorem taxes for schools. I was told not to worry, it would pass. Well, it failed. We got busy and got another referendum scheduled. We organized citizen support groups in every community and launched a "Keep the Bells Ringing" political campaign. We spoke to many civic and community groups, explaining what the taxes meant to our children. We also got news coverage in local newspapers, radio and television Every penny of money we spent to promote our campaign was donated. Voters approved the referendum with an 82 percent " yes" vote.
Question: In your opinion, how should we deal with students who have not mastered all of the basic educational skills in grades K-2.
Answer: Identify the skills that need to be worked on. Make sure parents and teachers know what they are, and teachers are capable to teach them. If that doesn't work, you need to start the remediation process.
Question: Describe your thoughts regarding citizen participation in school matters. How would you keep the community fully informed about the schools?
Answer: I'd have a dog and pony show and I'd take it to any city group that would let me come. I'd show them how we spend their money. I'd meet anybody at anytime to talk to them about education. I'd be visible in the community and I'd practice an open door policy.
Question: What do you think has been your most outstanding contribution to your present school system?
Answer: I'm proud of what we have been about to accomplish for the Butler County School District during my tenure as superintendent. When I arrived, it was a diamond in the rough. Each school operated as an entity in itself. Now we have a school system rather than a system of schools. We now have a distant learning program, which offers AP courses to students across the district. This is a dream come true.