Affton School Board Announces Next Superintendent

“After a six-month search, Dr. Steve Brotherton, principal at Affton’s Mesnier Primary School, has been named the next superintendent of theAffton School District.

“I think this is the culmination of my life’s work. I’m totally excited.” Brotherton said after the announcement during Tuesday’s board of education meeting at Rogers Middle School.

Brotherton will take the post July 1. Interim Superintendent Dr. Ken Weissflug will continue to helm the district for the rest of the year and is expected to stay on in his previous position as assistant superintendent.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Weissflug said. “Hopefully Dr. Brotherton and I will make a real good team.”

Before moving to Mesnier this year, Brotherton was the assistant superintendent for the Bayless School District for five years. Before that he was the principal of Rogers Elementary in the Mehlville School District for seven years. He has a doctorate in educational administration from Saint Louis University. His two sons, Justin and Sam, both graduated from the Affton School District.

“I’d like to think they picked me because I have good ideas,” Brotherton said.

When asked about his vision for the district, Brotherton said he saw a lot of potential. “We have an outstanding staff at Mesnier, but sometimes we are missing connectivity. I think a lot can be accomplished if we can focus our efforts.”

Asked about how he would deal with expected budget cuts by the state, Brotherton cited his experience doing cost-benefit analysis at Bayless, which has one of the smallest budgets in the county.

“I’ve worked with a little less before,” he said.

Before concluding the meeting, the board members offered Weissflug and Brotherton their thanks and congratulations.

“We have two tremendous gentlemen at the helm,” said Board of Education President Ron Becher. “One comment by a candidate during the selection process that sticks out is ‘Affton is a gem.’ Affton is a gem, and I look forward to great things happening with our leadership.”

Board member Christopher Castellanos echoed this sentiment. “We are expecting great things of you. No pressure,” he said.

On June 10, former superintendent Dr. Don Francis unexpectedly announced his retirement after leading the schools for five years, citing “personal reasons” in an official district press release. Weissflug was appointed interim superintendent and the search began for a candidate to fill the position permenantly.

The Affton school board was guided by the Missouri School Boards’ Association, who have established, a “comprehensive assessment and selection process,” according to their website. Dr. Brent Underwood, former superintendent of the Webster Groves School District, was hired as a consultant to facilitate the search.

The board formed a special 14-person search committee that included parents and teachers from each of the district’s schools as well as members of the Affton Chamber of Commerce.

The job opening was posted in early August, and 40 candidates who submitted qualifying applications.

Underwood said he and the committee worked in August and September to develop a profile of what various groups involved in the district wanted in the next superintendent, meeting with faculty, parents, administrators and local community leaders.

On Sept. 28, the school board held an open community forum at Affton High School to get input from district residents on what qualifications to focus on. An online survey was also posted to the school district’s website.

“We tried to look for some patterns and themes that were coming out of each of the different groups,” Underwood said in an interview before the meeting. “Someone who was focused on student learning. Someone who had good experience in relationship building and who could motivate staff. We wanted someone who could work with the current administration and board. We wanted someone familiar with Affton and the Special School District.”

Underwood and the committee selected six candidates to interview with the full search committee on Nov. 20. One of those candidates accepted another position before the interview. Another was disqualified by the committee after the interview. The committee made extensive notes, and the remaining four were advanced to final interviews with the Affton Board of Education on Dec. 7 and 8.

“If I were going to write a textbook on how the process should go, it would be this,” Underwood said. “The committee was fantastic. They had a very difficult decision to make, but all four candidates would be incredibly successful.”

“It can be exhausting, but in the end it feels good,” Brotherton said of the selection process.

The Affton School District serves more than 2400 students in four main schools. Brotherton will oversee more than 180 teachers and a budget of more than $26 million.”

Printed in the Affton-Shrewsbury Patch on December 21, 2010

Article by Andrew Dana Hudson

Original Article

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