The Judson Independent School District is one step closer to selecting a new superintendent after creating a leadership profile based on input from students, teachers, staff and community members.

According to the profile, the ideal candidate will have a proven track record of success in a “uniquely diverse school district,” with a focus on student achievement and relationship building. That person will also be visible, approachable and an effective listener and communicator with a student-centered and humble approach.

The profile also seeks “an authentic, hands-on leader who will be a part of the community long-term, leading in diversity and equity, especially as they relate to student achievement and human resources aimed at retaining an outstanding diverse staff.”

The search for a new leader comes after Jeanette Ball announced she was leaving her contract early in November. She accepted a position as superintendent of Southwest ISD in February.

Board President Jennifer Rodriguez said the process is the most comprehensive she has been involved in since she became a trustee in 2017, which included the search for Ball.

“I don’t remember creating the leadership profile … being so robust before,” she said. “It was really important to us this time around to get a lot of community input.”

The search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates is scheduled to bring a slate of candidates to the board in a closed meeting on March 27, she said. The next step in the timeline is an interview seminar, where the board will decide on the final set of interview questions for the finalists. The first round of interviews will tentatively take place from March 29 through the first of April.

A lone finalist is expected the week of April 17.

The leadership profile was presented to the board last week and approved as is. Candidates will be screened based on how well they match the profile.

Rodriguez said the district developed the profile through in-person feedback sessions and an online survey that involved a variety of stakeholders.

The results were compiled in a report by the firm which outlined the most desirable qualities for the next leader.

Respondents to surveys and participants during listening sessions had overlapping themes, including the strengths and weaknesses of the district, Rodriguez said.

Strengths include its diversity, strong athletic programs and innovative program offerings, according to the report.

Challenges include staff shortages, consistency and concerns about equity.

“There is deep concern about having qualified and enough teachers to offer the programs that they value so much,” the report said. “A strong, competitive compensation structure for teachers and having a great work environment were mentioned as paramount to retaining high-quality teachers.”

According to the report, stakeholders across the board also emphasized the importance of integrity and a “student-centered approach” in the next superintendent.

The report also said the next leader must be a strong communicator and listener who can build positive relationships with faculty, staff and administrators.

In terms of expertise, stakeholders identified the need for a well-rounded leader who possesses a deep understanding of all aspects of education.

Instructional leadership and a focus on academics were also identified as important qualities for the next superintendent.

“The purpose of the leadership profile is that it is a synthesis of what is most important to all the people who will be touched by the work of the superintendent,” Rodriguez said.

The community can expect a pause in further information after the interviews, as the board considers the candidates, she said.