Speak now or forever hold your peace. The Tigard-Tualatin School District is looking for community feedback about its search for a new superintendent. It is holding a special meeting tonight at Hazelbrook Middle School in Tualatin, as well as offering a quick online survey to seek input about the qualifications the district’s next leader will need.

The district held meetings with business leaders, teachers and students over the last several days, as well as community meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tonight’s meeting is the last chance for community members to share their thoughts about what they would like to see in their next superintendent, who is expected to be named this spring.

Former Tigard-Tualatin Superintendent Rob Saxton left the district earlier this year to run the state’s public schools system. The district hired former Oregon City Superintendent Roger Rada to serve in the interim until a permanent replacement could be found in time for the 2013-14 school year.

Rada, who came out of retirement to accept the interim position, is not interested in applying for the full-time post.

Tuesday night’s meeting drew few faces, which isn’t uncommon, said Donna Herren, an executive search consultant with the Oregon School Boards Association, which is helping the district in its search.

“Unless there is a major controversy, people don’t usually contribute much,” she said. “If they are happy and pleased with the direction of the district, they might not have much to say.”

But public input is important to make sure the district’s leader reflects the needs and desires of the community, said Maureen Wolf, the School Board’s chairwoman.

The district launched an online survey for people unable to attend the meeting, which Herren said is a quick and convenient way for people to participate.

“For some, it’s a lot easier when you can take 10 minutes to provide your input online rather than driving to a school and listening to people for an hour,” she said.

Although the district has not yet finished compiling its list of priorities, a few key qualities have already started to emerge, Herren said.

The next superintendent needs to be a strong communicator and a good listener, will need to continue bridging the achievement gap with the district’s underprivileged students and have a handle on complex issues, including tackling the district’s budget, which will face major hurdles in the next few years.

The ideal candidate should also have experience as a classroom teacher and be involved in the community.

“They want someone who really cares about the kids, and that aren’t here for other reasons,” Herren said.

Teachers also said they would like to see a superintendent who uses research-based practices to determine new programs and who will fully implement programs before deciding if they work or not.

For students at Tigard High School, the next superintendent will need to be accessible and communicate with students about what is going on at the district level.

The School Board is expected to ratify a final set of priorities based on community feedback in December.

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