Members of the Spring ISD Board of Trustees gathered Thursday evening at the district’s Family and Community Engagement Center for the second of two town halls to hear input and feedback from community members on the search for a new superintendent.
“We know this is an important matter for the whole community,” said David Thompson of district partner Thompson & Horton LLP. Thompson welcomed attendees and helped facilitate the town hall discussion and the list of registered speakers. “We appreciate you being here, and we look forward to hearing from you.”
Last month, current superintendent Dr. Rodney E. Watson announced that he had accepted a new role with the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) as its deputy executive director, a post he will take up in January of 2022. Watson has served as superintendent of Spring ISD since 2014.
Watson announced the news in mid-October, approximately two months prior to his departure, in order to give the board the opportunity to begin the process of identifying his successor. Thompson and the district trustees said that events such as this week’s town hall meetings were an important part of the process in order to ensure community voices were heard.
“It takes a lot of courage to come up and speak in front of people, especially when there’s concern that some people may not agree with what you have to say,” Spring ISD Trustee Carmen Correa told attendees. “Don’t be afraid to speak up. Don’t ever be afraid to speak up, because we need more of that.”
Those who came out on Thursday evening – more than 50 community members in all – spoke on a wide range of topics, including the need to continue strengthening systems in the district that support all schools and all students.
Many of the speakers addressed specific qualities they hoped the board would look for in selecting a new superintendent – including compassion and an unwavering commitment to student success, good listening skills and a desire to honestly consider the diversity of voices and viewpoints present in the district, as well as the ability to build on what’s good in Spring ISD without neglecting areas in need of improvement.
Parent Magda Hernandez attended the meeting along with her son Jesus, a third-grader at Link Elementary School. Afterward, Hernandez said she hopes the new superintendent will approach the job with a spirit of openness, a willingness to learn, and an ability to see things from others’ perspectives.
“It’s important for the district,” Hernandez said of the chance for parents and other community members to make their voices heard. “This meeting was amazing because the parents are very important for the district and for the schools. I’m very glad for this meeting.”
A common topic raised by many of the speakers was the need to engender a culture throughout the district of greater accountability, all the way from Spring ISD administrators, to students, to parents and guardians. Some praised efforts made in recent years to strengthen the connection between central administration and Spring ISD campuses, but others stressed that more work needed to be done for all campuses to feel supported.
Stacy and Ron Walker, parents of a Spring High School sophomore and a seventh-grader at Twin Creeks Middle School, attended the meeting, and said afterward that they wished the board all the best in the search process.
Asked about their take on the leadership transition, Stacy Walker said she and her husband support “a superintendent who’s passionate about kids and passionate about education, and is connected at every level of the process – who’s involved at every level of the process.”
Many attendees also expressed a deep sense of pride in the Spring community and voiced high expectations for what students in Spring ISD were capable of, given the needed support.
Board President Rhonda Newhouse said that enabling all students to reach their potential would be at the heart of the superintendent search process.
“We want to do what is best for our kids, in all of our decisions that we make,” Newhouse told attendees during her concluding remarks, “and that’s what we’re looking for in a superintendent – what is best for our students.”