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Our strengths, challenges & next leader!

Our strengths, challenges & next leader!
By Jim Haussler, Superintendent

I’m impressed that 1,436 community members and Bismarck Public School staff took the time to serve on a Focus Group or take an online survey to help us find our next Superintendent. The consultants, Olson Effertz, will use that information to find BPS the right person for the job. The following information outlines the results of these interviews and surveys: 

The person we are looking for should have these Top 10 skills, knowledge and characteristics (in rank survey order):

  1. Honest, integrity
  2. Able to build trust and positive relationships
  3. Able to build good staff morale and a positive working environment
  4. Good communicator, listener
  5. Strong advocate for ALL students
  6. Visible and accessible
  7. Seeks input prior to making major recommendations or changes
  8. Effective leader who inspires and motivates people
  9. Compassionate; sincerely cares about people
  10. Collaborative, creative, visionary leader 

Our new leader will want to know our district’s strengths and challenges. This came out of the in-person Focus groups and is listed in no particular order: 


  • Caring teachers, administrators & staff
  • Safe schools
  • Performance in academics & activities
  • High standards & expectations
  • Great support from the community
  • Well-rounded students—all students are considered important
  • Strong support for students—providing opportunities; meeting their needs
  • Extensive offering of student activities
  • Good special education programs
  • Career & technical offerings
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Excellent innovative practices
  • Learning is student driven
  • Continuous improvement practices
  • Investment in technology
  • Inclusion, diversity 

Challenges: (these are similar to those in other large N.D./U.S. school districts)

  • Budget issues & reallocation of limited resources
  • Growth & boundary issues
  • Class sizes
  • Climate, culture & staff morale
  • Behavioral and mental health programs
  • Adequate communication
  • Need for a long term strategic plan
  • Maintaining instructional and learning quality
  • Coherent governance implementation
  • Increased diversity in the classrooms

The job description with criteria for the position is posted on our website under the Jobs icon; the deadline is December 7. Many of you have friends and colleagues in education all over the country. Feel free to post the job link on your personal social media pages and tell the world why BPS is a great place to work. Who knows—on January 28 the School Board may announce that a friend of a friend of a friend of yours got the job! Considering the high quality of people we have working at BPS, we need to find the best superintendent we can.