Head of School – The Village Charter School
Mercer County, NJ
The Village Charter School [VCS] [www.villagecharter.org] seeks a dynamic, focused and accomplished administrator to assume the position of The Head of School. The starting date will be as soon as possible, and at least by July 1, 2017. The Head of School will be a proven leader with a commitment to VCS’ mission and to advancing educational opportunities for youth in under-served communities.
- A Master’s Degree or higher in Education/Administration/Management/Leadership or relevant field is preferred.
- Minimum five years’ experience in a leadership position in education
- New Jersey Certificate of Eligibility as a School Supervisor
PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL QUALIFICATIONS
All applicants must have extensive leadership experience in education and/or a not for profit organization — particularly focused on the education and development of urban youth. Past experience leading in an educational/organizational environment where significant achievement has occurred, or an achievement gap has been reduced and academic scores have improved is critical. The candidate should be knowledgeable about curriculum and must demonstrate a strong passion for educational achievement in low-income communities. The applicant must focus on data, performance, and results as s/he envisions the next phase of the school’s evolution, updating and institutionalizing curricula and programs, improving management and governance practices, and leading strategic planning initiatives to ensure long-term academic success and financial sustainability. Proven knowledge of New Jersey education and government regulation is a plus. S/he must have the ability to inspire excellence from a diverse staff and to utilize the talents of the Board of Trustees.
The successful applicant for the Head of School must be able to make a compelling case for resources in an increasingly competitive environment. All applicants must have extensive leadership experience in an organization with a demonstrated record of successful strategic planning, fundraising, budgeting and finance, governance, and marketing. This will include fostering relationships with individuals, foundations, members of the private sector, and government grant makers.
The applicant must be willing to embrace and implement VCS’ structure, philosophy, and values. S/he must genuinely enjoy and relate to urban children and their families and be approachable and caring. S/he must be a collaborative planner and critical thinker open to new ideas, be a good listener, and an effective oral and written communicator. S/he must be receptive to stakeholder involvement in the educational process, believe in data-driven decision-making, and passionate about and able to achieve the educational goals set by the Village Charter School.
The Board is seeking a distinguished administrator with demonstrated success as a leader, educator, manager and communicator. A commitment to academic excellence and awareness of developments in education and pedagogy are essential. Likewise, prior extensive experience in administration at a public or private educational institution, or a not-for-profit organization, and experience with the intricacies and uniqueness of an urban school, are required. It is preferred that the successful candidate hold a Master’s degree or higher in a relevant field. Demonstrated expertise in raising achievement as well as success involving stakeholders and the community in the educational process is critical. Working knowledge of federal, state and local education system regulatory requirements and demonstrated ability to implement and adhere to these requirements is expected.
Leadership and Management
The Head of School is the chief executive and holds responsibility, accountability, and authority for the school’s overall performance and success in achieving key targets and goals. The Head is also responsible for ensuring the school’s long-term sustainability. The Principal and COO/BA report directly to the HOS. The HOS is responsible for the entire operation and directly manages a leadership team comprised of academic and operations administrators.
The Head of School will work with administrators to ensure that the school continues to strengthen its academic program and advance student achievement, living up to and breathing life into the schools’ mission.
Fundraising is an important component of the position. The Head of School is responsible to ensure the organization meets annual revenue goals without compromising the quality of the program. Fundraising targets need to be set, plans developed and then achieved to ensure long term financial sustainability.
Operations and Finance
The Head of School holds ultimate responsibility for all of the school’s operations—from school safety to performance management for staff to financial planning and Human Resources. S/he oversees and manages the operating budget with the COO/School Business Administrator. This individual must ensure that VCS remains in strong financial standing and that the school is in compliance with laws, regulations, and requirements. The COO/BA reports to the HOS.
Communication and Marketing
The Head of School is the primary external champion for VCS and must represent and advocate for the school in various settings and ensure accuracy and consistency in the school’s internal and external messages. Maintaining strong relationships with the community, the city, the Department of Education, Charter School organizations, and the Board of Trustees is vital.
The HOS reports directly to the Board through its Chair. The HOS keeps the Board regularly and consistently apprised on progress towards goals. Together the Board and HOS work to ensure the mission is carried out in a sustainable manner.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR THE NEXT HEAD OF SCHOOL
Strengths and Opportunities:
- Popular with Trenton families; there is a current waiting list of 133 students (although competition among charter schools continues to increase)
- A wonderful 10.38 acre property purchased in 2013 for approximately $ 7.8 million (financed partially by an interest free mortgage of $ 260k from Mercer Street Friends plus a $ 6 million Bond issued by New Jersey Economic Development Authority with Roma Bank (now Investors Bank) serving as the Lender.
- Committed and talented administrators, faculty and staff
- Strong curriculum and teacher development
- Three years into extensive use of Linkit, a data program for assessing student achievement and needs
- Financially the school maintains strong financial ratios evident in its annual audit report along with no audit findings for over seven years. Even with decreased or flat State funding for the past five years, the school has maintained balanced budgets and continued its commitment supporting faculty/staff salary increases on average of 3 percent per year.
- Charter renewal in January 2018
- Improving test scores. While there has been growth, it has been inconsistent
- Building a successful working relationship between the administration, faculty, and Board
- Strategic planning: there is no current, formal strategic plan
- Board and staff development
- Fundraising: essential in a climate of a flat and/or shrinking State and local aid
- Attracting and retaining the most talented urban teachers
- Increasing parent participation
“Our mission is to create a child-centered community of active learners where each child can and will succeed in ways that reflect his or her own unique aptitudes and interests. The Village Charter School affirms that every child has a right to a quality education and that high academic standards must be set. At The Village Charter School, children will develop critical thinking skills, learn to communicate effectively, feel a sense of well-being and live responsibly in an atmosphere that promotes tolerance and empathy for others. In this endeavor, we seek to unite parents, teachers and the community in the common pursuit of excellence.” As shorthand, our motto is “Where learners become leaders.”
Mercer Street Friends Center with a highly effective management team and a community of supporters recognized the opportunity to fulfill a long-standing commitment to enhance public education in Trenton by serving Trenton’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens – the city’s children. With the passage of the New Jersey Charter School Act of 1995, a charter school of excellence was thus established.
The name “Village Charter School” is one of purpose. The school’s intent is to bring students, families and the community together as a village of friends – learning, working and experiencing life’s opportunities. It was seen as an investment in Trenton’s future.
After years of planning, fundraising and construction, this vision became a reality when the Village Charter School opened its doors to 153 kindergarten to second grade students on September 9, 1999. The original school building – the first new school construction in Trenton in over 35 years – was 30,000 square feet with 16 classrooms, a library/media center, and a 6,000 foot multi-purpose room used as a gymnasium, cafeteria, and stage/performance area. This handsome facility was expanded to include a middle school wing in September, 2003.
In the spring of 2007, VCS graduated its first class of eighth graders. Presently, the school has two classes of each of the K-8 grade levels with a maximum of 20 student per section and total school enrollment of approximately 360. Students in the 7th and 8th grades are divided into 3 sections reducing the class size to 12/14.
Located on a 10 acre green campus on the western edge of the City of Trenton, The Village Charter School has a “footprint” that includes an area where a playing field is located.
VCS, a not for profit corporation, is governed by a Board of Trustees. The Board oversees the school and is ultimately responsible for its financial, educational, operational and mission success. The school is subject to provisions of the New Jersey Charter School Act and regulation by the New Jersey Office of Charter Schools. The Board meets monthly. Committees include Finance, Advancement, Education, Personnel and Governance. The Board is composed of community leaders and parents involved in many fields including finance, education, non-profit governance, and law in New Jersey. It is a diverse group committed to the continued success of the school.
DETAILS ABOUT APPLYING FOR THE POSITION
Interested candidates should email the following materials to Kris Schulte, Chair of the Search Committee at [email protected]
- Cover letter
- Statement of Educational Philosophy
- List of any publications
- List of references, including a recent supervisor