Editorial: A breath of fresh air

New school superintendent off to strong start

School district Superintendent Max McGee has been on the job for just over a month, but he has already demonstrated an ability to respectfully, calmly and firmly lead the school board and his staff in setting clear and important goals and accountability measures for the coming year.

In a two-day board retreat a month ago and in just two regular board meetings since he started, McGee has shown he will be much more intentional and engaged as a forward-thinking leader of the district than his predecessor, Kevin Skelly.

This desire and capacity to lead, combined with what appears to be a belief in strong accountability for both staff and successful program delivery, will hopefully re-balance the relationship between the elected school board and the administration.

Palo Alto schools have suffered from a lack of strong district leadership, which has led to confusion, defensiveness and alienation. Digging out of that will not be easy, but it starts with a superintendent who has the skills and confidence to make difficult judgments, articulate and carry out an agenda, and carefully filter the input the school board has to offer.

So far at least, McGee seems like the right person for the job.

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1 person likes this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2014 at 9:36 am

> lead the school board ..

Well, maybe .. but is that the job of the Superintendent? If we look in the CA Ed Code, would we find “leading the school board” as one of the job requirements? Or what about the job descriptions identified here at the local level—what does the PAUSD say about the proper role of the Superintendent?

It would seem that the role of the Board of Education is far more important than that of the Superintendent—who is more likely supposed to follow the directions of the Board, rather than lead in whatever direction he/she decides is his/her personal goal for the district.

Voters need to understand better the roles of the Board, and the Superintendent, than they do. It wouldn’t hurt the Press to spend a little time boning up on the Ed Code, and how organizations are supposed to work—particularly publicly-funded education systems.

1 person likes this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 12, 2014 at 9:44 am

McGee attended the Paly football game in RWC last week and led cheers; he seemed to be trying to get to know people, and seemed genuine. He made a good first impression on me. Even if it is unrelated to his most important duties.
However, most PA Online participants will be unimpressed by my opinion, since I was and still am a Skelly supporter.

1 person likes this
Posted by RV
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 12, 2014 at 1:41 pm

This is such a hurtful and derogatory editorial from the Weekly. There are many of us who supported Skelly and found him inspirational, heartfelt and a sincere leader who made connections with parents but most importantly with students.

However, the past cannot be changed. We now have a new superintendent and look forward to getting to know McGee and would consider PAUSD to be fortunate if he brings similar qualities and leadership skills as Skelly.

1 person likes this
Posted by randy albin
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 12, 2014 at 1:47 pm

boy, if families can afford to live in the area, then this is what the schools are doing. how different than in previous decades. is this pie in the sky? pay these educators. can they afford this area?

Like this comment
Posted by Ross
a resident of Triple El
on Sep 12, 2014 at 3:44 pm

One lesson from business is that nice is not enough to run a big organization. PAUSD is nearing $200 million annual budget. Some people get to positions that aren't a good fit. No shame in that. A good boss will see it happening and do the right thing. A bad boss won't do anything. Skelly didn't have a good boss.

1 person likes this
Posted by Claire and Jamie
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 5:27 pm

After the horrible messes Kevin Skelly left us with, as well as his deceit and lack of professionalism, Max McGee is indeed a breath of fresh air.

The BOE kept Skelly for far, far too long.

3 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 12, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Gunn was just ranked 38th out of all High Schools in US by Newsweek and PALY was close behind.
If McGee can keep up the good work of Skelly, then we will be in good shape.
I'm still not sure why this newspaper continues to derogate Skelly so gratuitously and unnecessarily.

2 people like this
Posted by Retired Teacher
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 13, 2014 at 2:10 pm

I agree with RV--Kevin Skelly is one of the most caring and effective administrators I have met in my 40 years of teaching. This editorial is needless and demeaning. Max McGee has one big advantage--he's aware of the knives out in Palo Alto and he's no doubt read the vicious comments. And, if he's wise, he won't be too sure the Weekly won't turn on him, as it did on Dr. Skelly.

Good luck, Dr. McGee!

1 person likes this
Posted by a parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Oh, here we go again. Any suggestion that Skelly doesn't walk on water and the parent bashing begins.

By the way, those rankings have a lot more to do with our students and the support they get at home than they have anything to do with Dr. Skelly. Let's hope Dr. McGee has a much more positive and open administration. From all indications, he will.

Like this comment
Posted by a parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 13, 2014 at 2:46 pm

By the way, criticism and feedback are not knives. If that were so, we wouldn't have symphonies, ballets, great American novels, or the entire tech industry.

I personally liked Skelly as a person, thought he was a caring person and a decent administrator. He was also far too political and unwilling or unable to deal with underlings that were even more so. Those are the knives McGee should be aware of or he will be pulling them out of his back without ever leaving the district office.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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