The State Board of Education finalized a job description Friday for Nevada’s next superintendent of public instruction, kicking off what members hope is a speedy search process.
The board received public input during a special meeting as they crafted the language. Parents, community members and education advocates who spoke Friday made a variety of suggestions, including finding someone who understands and values diversity as well as a leader who’s well-versed on the national education scene.
Pat Hickey, executive director of the Charter School Association of Nevada, called for a state superintendent who will continue education reforms, including the weighted-funding formula, and keep charter schools in the K-12 fold.
“I would urge your board as you carry out your responsibilities (to) find a person of vision and commitment who will complement the goals and aspirations of this governor but be a strong leader in their own right,” Hickey said.
Ultimately, the board decided to add stronger diversity language to the job description and replace the phrase “strongly committed to education reform” with “strongly committed to improving academic outcomes for all students.”
Board Vice President Mark Newburn suggested the latter change, saying “education reform” has taken on too many meanings in recent years.
“When we started probably a decade ago, education reform kind of meant something different,” he said. “It meant improving outcomes for all students, but slowly over time the term has evolved and it has been usurped a little bit by certain organizations, and it has taken on a bit of an adversarial tone that I don’t think it needs.”
The board also added a line indicating interest in finding someone who understands and has connections within the national education landscape.
The following five board members will make up the superintendent search subcommittee: Newburn, who will serve as chair; Felicia Ortiz as vice chair; Tonia Holmes-Sutton; Tamara Hudson; and David Carter.
Board President Elaine Wynn said she anticipates a thorough search “on a very accelerated timeline” given the ongoing legislative session.
The board plans to interview six candidates and select three to forward to Gov. Steve Sisolak for consideration during a March 12 meeting. The state superintendent is a governor-appointed position, but the board helps carry out the search process.