Broadwater would make long-term commitment to Dist. 88

NEW ULM – Addressing an audience of about 50 at a community forum in the District 88 auditorium on Monday, superintendent finalist Jean Broadwater summed up her background and job experience and answered wide-ranging questions.

Broadwater, current Superintendent of Schools in Houston – a smaller community near Rochester – is one of two finalists for the position.

The other finalist, Jeff Bertrang, superintendent of Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop (GFW) Public Schools, will attend a similar meeting and other events today.

The job is being vacated at the end of this school year by retiring Superintendent Harold Remme.

Broadwater introduced herself as a native of the LaCrosse, Wis., area, the oldest of nine children. Her parents were farmers.

She started her career as an eighth-grade teacher in the Milwaukee public school system, teaching for eight years.

In time, she went on to obtain a principal’s and a superintendent’s licenses, and advanced degrees in educational leadership, administration and curriculum. Broadwater has completed her doctoral work, but not written a doctoral dissertation.

Her administrative experience includes six years as a high school principal at West Bend, Wis., and four years as a superintendent at Kewaunee, Wis., and Houston.

A single parent, she has a son who is finishing college.

Broadwater answered questions about her beliefs about the role of technology in education; how she sees her community role as it pertains to youth; her experience in resolving facilities issues and referendums; her views on new state rules on teacher evaluation; her experience of, and views on, interaction with parochial schools; her knowledge of PLCs (professional learning communities of teachers); and some other matters.

Partial highlights:

She noted that technology decisions are often district-specific.

She referenced, in part, “bring your own device” initiatives, pointing out that users need to be engaged as part of the process of technology integration in the classroom.

A district needs to create a specific culture/climate for an initiative to work, taking into account factors such as infrastructure, wireless capabilities, bandwidth, etc.

She also stressed the need to offer continuous support to faculty, in whatever a district decides to do.

She stressed she would make a “purposeful” effort to be involved in leadership organizations and look for opportunities to build partnerships with businesses, intended to keep young people here.

On new principal and teacher evaluation systems required by the state starting next year, she noted, in part, that models work best if those involved buy into and take ownership of the process; models prioritizing professional growth work well.

She listed specific efforts in this area she has been involved in.

Broadwater cited her specific experience with Q-comp (a way of rewarding teachers, sometimes considered merit pay) and PLC (professional learning community) systems.

She emphasized the need to cooperate and share resources with non-public systems.

Broadwater also outlined a transitional plan that would allow her to learn about SWOTs (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) in the district, by gathering and analyzing, confidentially, information from various groups, discussing findings and solutions with the school board, and potentially engaging in strategic planning.

Broadwater said in her closing remarks that she would be honored, if selected, to spend the next 8-10 years of her professional career in New Ulm, buying a home and retiring here.

Earlier in the day, Broadwater toured school buildings with Remme. She also met with administrators who filled out feedback forms for the school board to consider when deliberating their choice of the next superintendent.

She ended her day with a dinner and a further conversation with the school board.

After the process is repeated with Bertrang today, the school board will meet to deliberate their final choice tonight. The board will decide by the end of the day with which candidate to enter contract negotiations.

Broadwater and Bertrang were chosen from a shortlist of six semi-finalists, out of a field of 15 applicants.

The process is facilitated by consultants Ed Waltman and Butch Hanson from the South Central Service Co-op, which provides this service free of charge to member districts.

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