This year, voters in Oakland will have the opportunity to elect new leaders, including the mayor of our city.

Oakland’s public schools will also have a new leader this year, but the Superintendent of Schools for Oakland is selected by the School Board Directors, representing each of Oakland’s seven districts. The hiring process has begun, and the goal is to select a candidate by mid-April.

Just because the general public doesn’t vote in this process does not mean we should stay on the sidelines. This is such an important job. Not because the superintendent singlehandedly fixes a school district, but because she or he must be highly skilled at creating conditions that support success for the principals, teachers, families and students who do the work that makes a quality education.

Superintendent of a large urban school district is also a very difficult job. According to Kenneth Wong, Ph.D., a professor who researches urban school governance reform at Brown University (quoted here in The Huffington Post) the average tenure for urban school superintendents is just two and a half years. But it much takes longer than that to get major initiatives off the ground and on a path toward stability and success.

Here’s where you come in: We at Great Oakland Public Schools Leadership Center, a 501c(3) non-profit organization, believe broad community input into this process is critical. Please click here and take 10 minutes to complete our community survey on the next superintendent and let the School Board and candidates know how satisfied you are with your school and the direction of the district, and what work you think the new leader should focus on. The survey data will inform GO’s reporting to the school board, the candidates, and the public around this decision.

Oakland Unified has a $600 million annual budget and about 4,500 employees serving 46,000 students in 132 public schools. We need a committed leader who understands the unique challenges of our city, and who will bring communities together to drive needed changes.

Time is running out. The Oakland School Board is screening candidates this month, and selecting top applicants for interviews. The window to complete the survey closes this week. Don’t delay on this opportunity to weigh in on one of the most important decisions of 2014.

Here is one more opportunity to get involved. On March 23, GO will field a team at the Oakland Running Festival to raise awareness of issues in public schools, including the issues the new superintendent will face and what might make a strong superintendent in Oakland. To join our team, please sign up here.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.

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