Superintendent candidate Deming takes questions at forum

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 | 10:20 p.m. CST; updated 12:18 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Columbia School Board President Michelle Gadbois introduced superintendent candidate Skip Deming before he took the podium to speak. Deming spoke about his past career with Columbia schools and answered questions posed by people in attendance.

COLUMBIA – At Tuesday’s forum at West Junior High School, members of the community asked questions of superintendent candidate Skip Deming.

Deming applied late and directly to the Columbia School Board for the position, unlike the other 17 candidates who applied for the job. The public forum was intended as a way to involve Columbia residents in the selection process. Deming made an initial statement and then answered questions submitted in advance by those in attendance.


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Deming said his greatest weakness is a lack of experience in the superintendent position. But he said he has held many jobs throughout the district. He began his public school career as a night custodian in 1968 and retired in 2004 after a year as co-interim superintendent.

“It sounds like I couldn’t keep a job,” Deming joked.

Board President Michelle Gadbois said Deming's history with the district could be a double-edged sword. Board member Rosie Tippin agreed, saying that the public’s knowledge of him brings “some familiarity and some animosity.”

The public asked questions concerning such issues as the school district's budget, communication with the community, diversity and closing the achievement gap. Some community members in attendance felt Deming was unprepared for their questions.

“He needed to do his homework,” said Robin Hubbard, a parent activist. “I mean, just Google our district to see what is going on. If you don’t know about it, you don’t care. You may be passionate, but do your homework.”

Deming’s passion was matched by that of Tony Naylor, a former teacher for Columbia Public Schools. Naylor asked Deming about the lack of diversity in the administration.

“When is a black male going to be a principal in this district?” Naylor said. 

He voiced his opinions and left the forum. In the hall, he shared additional concerns.

“It’s time for the kids, time to meet these problems head on,” said Naylor. “Resources are short, and we have to do better.”

He said the forum was not at all what he expected, and that he wished harder questions would have been asked.

Tippin said the forums provide a valuable opportunity to ask the community for its opinion before the board comes to a decision.

“The forums were very useful to give people a better feel for him,” Tippin said.

The other superintendent candidate, Chris Belcher, will participate in a similar public forum at 5 p.m. Thursday at Paxton Keeley Elementary School, 201 Park DeVille Drive.

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Ray Shapiro February 11, 2009 | 2:40 a.m.

Per Hank Waters, Publisher of the Tribune:
{"...Deming and Chris Belcher, superintendent of the small Kearney School District north of Kansas City. ..
..One can praise the board for not keeping all of the original five “finalists” in the running if in the end none met expectations, but it is not good practice to accept a late application without opening the search to any and all late-coming candidates who missed the original deadline..."}
How about never being a superintendent, lack of a "timely application" as well as "lack of a doctoral degree" being three strikes against you?
For the next inning, you can start off with being retired and cronyism.
(I guess it's not what you know, but who you know.)
If Chris Belcher doesn't get hired, then I would suggest that the CPS board, refund us taxpayers, (out of their own pockets), the money spent on hiring a search firm that turned up Superintendent Belcher, in the first place.
If Belcher is not hired, I'd suggest that, in the future, no one should ever apply for this position, ever again. It's a sham.
(Just sit back and wait for the "good old boys" to approach you.)
(Excerpts from one poster, of many...)
localteachervet says...
Well, Jonathan: I am not sure what service your article of tonight provided. The headline brings attention to the no doctorate needed concern. But the body then goes on to show us the history of this district since 1932 of having a doctorate. The most interesting part may be the forshadowing comments of members of the board as well as good old boy superintendents past and present--both of whom had Deming in their employ.

Land mine's three strikes comments are the best summary of the frustration of so many of us on this blog. Jonathan, could you take nothing more from this blog than "candidates do not have to have a doctorate"? We need some attention aimed at the 3 strikes issue and the rather pathetic role of the BOE. Why not a headline leading into a story on those issues?

And here is the latest kicker: 75 people showed up to meet and greet with Deming tonight. Many had questions. But not only was the q and a limited in time, questions had to be submitted ahead of time(and culled perhaps, who knows). When some in the audience were unhappy with what was not being discussed or asked,
Gadbois compelled the audience to return to the "format". Reminds me of the days of the Soviet Union. Sure, they said, ask anything you want at a news conference--just be sure the question is screened ahead of time.

Responding only to previously submitted questions in a public forum and in a school system whose teachers preach the doctrine of democracy and critical role of the public in making policy everyday is about as hypocritical as one can imagine. It gets worse and worse.

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