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Search for new DSBN director underway

“It’s a very thoughtful process,” said DSBN board chair as it looks to replace its longest tenured director of education

By Victoria Nicolaou staff reporter, The Standard
Thursday, September 21, 2023

Shortly after the announcement came down, the search began for the next director of education for Niagara’s largest school board.

After 18 years at the helm of the District School Board of Niagara, director Warren Hoshizaki announced his retirement at an April board meeting.

Understanding the difficult task it had in front of them, replacing DSBN’s longest serving director, chair of the board, Sue Barnett (Welland) said the process started relatively quickly as it looked as what direction the board wanted to go in beginning a new chapter.

“We are not going to find another Warren. It has to be somebody with their own ideas and willing to work and learn with the board of trustees,” said Barnett in an interview this week.

The first step was putting together a search committee, with five trustees selected — ranging in experience and seniority — to take part in the initial process. In addition to Barnett, who is serving her 14th year as a trustee, the committee also includes vice-chair Alex Bradnam (St. Catharines/Niagara-on-the-Lake), Lora Campbell (St. Catharines/Niagara-on-the-Lake), Shannon Mitchell (Niagara Falls) and Deanne MacIntosh (West Lincoln/Wainfleet).

All trustees have a say in the final selection but it was clear in the early stages that the process was “way bigger” than the board. Barnett said the search for the next director had to include input from “a broader base, from our union partners and our staff members and community members and all of the other pieces that join in to make DSBN, DSBN.”

To help make the search more manageable, the board hired a search firm which then created a website where staff — including teachers, superintendents, office administration and community groups — could provide feedback, anonymously. Sharing not only what they want to see in the next director, but about the board itself and whether it is on the right track.

Barnett said that feedback was compiled through the summer and placed in report card form, with certain elements weighing more heavily in importance than others.

“This keeps it bias free. (The firm is) the ones putting together that information into a piece that we can move forward with, knowing what we’re looking for an the way of a director,” she said. “It’s a very thoughtful process.”

With that part of the process complete, it is on to the next steps which includes gathering candidates — also done through the search firm — before the DSBN search committee gets involved for the interview process (likely in November).

“The search committee will have a meeting and make a decision going forward on a long-list, on a short-list and moving through all the different pieces. Our goal is to have a name by December 1,” said Barnett.

The details of the report card remain confidential but for the board, the interview process is about finding an individual who can continue to keep DSBN on a successful track, which includes its multi-year strategic plan, a strong supervisory team, a balanced budget and, ultimately, “what’s best for students and staff.”

A former teacher, principal and superintendent, Hoshizaki has more than 40 years of experience in education. Barnett said she has seen the difference it has “made in our schools and in the lives of our staff and students” through the last decade with Hoshizaki as the leader and the board’s goal is to see that continue.

“I expect someone to be as bright and articulate and thoughtful and caring and all the other good words that I can use to describe Warren. I think he has been a tremendous director and we’ve been very, very lucky here,” said Barnett.
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