Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Parents' Coalition Calls For Competitive Bids and Open Superintendent Search Process

Testimony of Sheldon Fishman
Before the Montgomery County Board of Education
February 10, 2015

Good morning, members of the Board of Education and Superintendent Starr. My name is Sheldon
Fishman. I live in Silver Spring and I am a member of the Parents Coalition. I am a longstanding
supporter of MCPS schools. My four children are successful MCPS graduates, as is their mother ‐
my wife, Lee‐who is a proud graduate of Wheaton High School. And now, the next generation of my
family is getting ready for school. If all goes according to plan, my granddaughter will participate in
MCPS kindergarten orientation for the class entering in September 2019.

I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts on the process of selecting a new superintendent
of schools. I recognize that each of you approaches this task with great seriousness. This is not an
enviable task; I am sure it is difficult to say goodbye to Dr. Starr, but that decision has been made.
I have two points about the selection process to offer to you today.

The first involves the selection of a search firm to aid in identifying candidates. According to the
meeting materials, the Board selected a search firm. No open bidding, no new proposals. While it’s
expedient to select the same firm that helped the BOE twelve years ago in identifying candidates,
ask yourself, did we get the most for our money? What do alternative firms do? Did this firm do a
good job in recommending Dr. Massie? (source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpsrv/local/daily/june99/massie6.htm ). While time is short, please consider competitive bids and
perhaps a new headhunter.

Second, please use a transparent process and involve the community. Yes, this selection involves a personnel decision, but "personnel" should not be used to defend unnecessary secrecy. A selection process that is both transparent and still protects privacy will give taxpayers more confidence in their elected officials. More important, transparency will empower the new superintendent to be bold. Other school systems use a more open process than MCPS has done. For example, Hartford Public Schools invited all three finalists to three public forums with each forum aimed at a different audience. And everything is streamed live.


And please ‐ when you do have parents involved, don't require them to sign a non‐disclosure
agreement that last in perpetuity
. How can these individuals seek the opinions of their constituent
members if they cannot discuss the appointment or the selection factors?

In conclusion, will my daughter be able to come to this table and say, “MCPS was excellent for me
and is providing an even better experience for my daughter?”

Thank you.

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