Community Meeting Results

  • Saint Paul Public Schools held four community meetings in December 2016 and January 2017 to gather feedback from the community about what it wants in the next superintendent. Another meeting included all members of the district’s various Parent Advisory Councils.

    A facilitator led the discussions and asked each participant four questions.

    1. What qualities of a superintendent are most important to you?
    2. What types of experience are important to you for the new superintendent?
    3. What are your greatest concerns about SPPS education and why?
    4. What do you think is working well in SPPS?

    The main themes have been summarized from all community meetings and are listed below.

    The feedback will be used in two ways and will be included in a Superintendent Profile:

    • To identify the top qualities the community is looking for in a new superintendent, to assist in recruitment of candidates.
    • To inform the school board and influence their decision on finalists and, ultimately, the new superintendent.

    Learn more about the process for gathering feedback from the community meetings.


    What qualities of a superintendent are most important to you?

    Willingness to Learn:

    • Willing to learn from parents and the community
    • Identifies with and understands the uniquely diverse community of St. Paul.

    Culturally Aware and Committed to Equity:

    • Understands multiple ideas from racial, cultural, religious and gender perspectives. 
    • Identifies with a minority group, but also OK if they are willing to learn and not pre-judge. 
    • Can distinguish between the racial and cultural barriers that exist inside school and those which come from the community. 
    • Understands the intersection of race, religion and gender identity. 
    • Supports diverse teaching staff and can remove barriers for staff of color to teach rather than just serve as classroom aids. 
    • Can educate staff and students about understanding of different cultures.

    Respectful Communicator, Listens and Speaks Effectively:

    • Hears and understands the concerns of the community. 
    • A good listener who acts on what they have heard. 
    • Respects bilingual parents by allowing them to express themselves in their own language, and to “trust the truth” they share.

    Collaborative Leader:

    • Ability for transparent leadership. 
    • Can inspire support from staff, community and government. 
    • History of good relations in previous employment.

    Creative and Courageous:

    • Advocate for SPPS at the state capitol. 
    • Ability to push for adequate funding. 
    • Dedicated to fight for SPPS while also pulling together support. 
    • Invested in the community and willing to use all opportunities to ensure its success. 
    • Willing to try new, creative ideas and stand up for justice.

    Strong Managerial Skills:

    • Fiscally responsible.
    • Financial management skills.

    Transparent and Accountable

    What types of experience are important to you for the new superintendent?

    • Demonstrated success in collaborating with stakeholders
    • Demonstrated success in managerial skills, especially budgeting
    • Demonstrated commitment to racial equity and inclusion, especially closing the achievement gap
    • Demonstrated success with implementing change
    • A long history in education with direct student experience
    • Previous work in a similar district: large, urban and complex
    • Personal experience in communities similar to St. Paul

    What are your greatest concerns about SPPS education?

    • School safety 
    • Resource allocation to schools 
    • More resources needed for services and programs (mental health and social and emotional learning) 
    • Inequities 
    • Lack of diverse staff (teachers don’t look like students) 
    • Academic achievement too low (lack of college and career readiness) 
    • Lack of community engagement 
    • Lack of funding
    • Other: 
      • Focus on data does not accurately portray student abilities’ or schools success rate; 
      • Staff and superintendent retention; 
      • Community investment; 
      • Limited space in school choice; 
      • Heavy police presence; 
      • Human aspect of teaching is more than teaching to the test; 
      • People leaving the district
      • How problems are addressed.

    What do you think is working well in SPPS?

    • District's commitment to public education 
    • Community engagement: bringing people together so they can share their experiences (parents, Parent Advisory Councils, students)
    • Personalized approaches to learning (including use of technology) 
    • Commitment to racial equity 
    • Auxiliary programs (programs for families and students outside the regular school day)