As the search for a new superintendent in Loudoun County, Virginia, continues, a new survey is revealing differing priorities among school leaders and community members when it comes to critical issues across the district.
The Loudoun County school district brought on GR Recruiting Associates to conduct the survey last month. Firm associates presented the findings of the survey and interviews with community stakeholders at a Loudoun County Public Schools board meeting on March 28.
The firm asked parents, students and other community members to share some of the top issues they want to see addressed by the county’s next superintendent. When looking at the 4,110 responses regarding the most critical issues, 38% pointed to school safety, 37% said staff retention and 35% want to see more focus on academics. College and career readiness, as well as mental health services, were also serious concerns among participants.
Gloria Davis, the GR Recruiting associate presenting the survey findings, said it “gives you a good idea of how people are thinking about some of the issues that will have to be addressed by the new superintendent that are happening now and will go into the future.”
In addition to top priorities, 63% also said accountability is an important quality that should be considered during the search.
“The highest area was being accountable and responsible for actions. Not only their own actions, but also being able to be the person that’s responsible for actions across the district,” Davis said.
As for stakeholders, more than 260 respondents, including school board members, chiefs of police and staff took part in 60 interviews to discuss priorities. GR Recruiting associate Robert Alfaro outlined at the school board meeting how respondents believed a focus on teacher retention is needed.
“And in light of the fact that there were many teachers that were retirement age and they were considering perhaps retiring early … there was a lot of concern about attracting and keeping those teachers.” said Alfaro. “They also wanted to attract and keep teachers in special areas, such as special education and bilingual education.”
Stakeholders also said that they would like the next superintendent to possess political savvy, be understanding of equity and diversity and be a good communicator.
“The communication across the division needs to be more effective,” Alfaro said. “There is not enough communication; it is not efficient. We need some consistency and it needs to be in a timely manner.”
They also stressed the need for a new literacy program and equal access to quality education for all students.
The survey will be used in the district’s search for its next superintendent, just months after former schools Superintendent Scott Zeigler was fired in December following criticism of the school system’s response to two in-school sexual assaults by the same student in 2021.
WTOP’s Emily Venezky contributed to this report.
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