The Arlington County school board last week asked for suggestions from the public on what qualifications the successor to Superintendent Larry Cuban should have -- and got a list that perhaps only Heaven could fill.
More that 20 parents, teachers and civic activists told the board the new superintendent should be an expert in human relations, a disciplinarian, experienced in handling a system like Arlington's and a budget-balancer. He should be diplomatic and sensitive to the needs of teachers, women, minorities, working parents, the foreign-born, the handicapped, the learning-disabled and adult students. For starters.
There were also calls for expanding career education, special education, mental programs, drug and alcohol abuse programs, the use of cable television and English classes for the foreign-born.
Cuban, whose stewardship has been a rocky one marked by disputes with the GOP-controlled board, is leaving his post March 1. The school board has asked the state for a 60-day extension from that date to name his successor. The extension is expected to be granted, and the Arlington board may then appoint an interim superintendent.
Among the speakers was Simone (Sim) J. Pace, who is expected to succeed board member Ann C. Broder, a Democrat, when her term expires July 1. Pace ran unsuccessfully for the county board last fall, with GOP backing, on a platform that stressed a "return-to-basics" approach in the schools.
Pace suggested that the new superintendent "emphasize traditional basic education, stressing reading, writing and mathematics."
Cathy Hartness of the Arlington Education Association, which represents teachers, said AEA hopes the new superintendent will be sensitive to teacher stress and experienced in employee relations.