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Board searches for new superintendent

The Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) Board of Education has selected four firms as semifinal candidates to search for a new District Superintendent for the 2018-19 school year.

The firms will present their proposals during a Board meeting on Nov. 28 and will select one final search firm on Nov. 29.

“Your district is a community with people that are really successful,” said Peggy Lynch, a partner in Leadership Associates, PAUSD’s search firm for the past four superintendents. “[They] often study at university levels and [are] high demanding so we had high expectations.”

According to Board President Terry Godfrey, the firms keep in touch with superintendents from the entire nation, and would reach out to people who would make a good superintendent in Palo Alto. In order to obtain a contract with PAUSD, the firms need to include a resume of their experiences working with school districts and the expected time and cost for the search process in their proposals.

“We will ask [the firms] about the superintendents that they have placed and how long they have stayed on their jobs, so we can get a picture of their success in doing prior searches for other districts.”

Terry Godfrey

In addition, Godfrey said the Board prefers the firms to have past experience working with high-performance districts similar to PAUSD with a basic-aid financial plan, through which districts receive all of their general-purpose revenue from property taxes rather than state funds. Only 10 percent of California school districts are basic-aid districts.

“What is important is where the firms have placed other superintendents, so they understand the way a district works,” Godfrey said. “It’s nice to have a firm like that, but it’s not required.”

According to Godfrey, the selected firm will then go to focus groups and interview community members, students, staff and administrators to find out what kind of superintendent they prefer. Subsequently, the firm will try to find  candidates who fit the profile of student preferences. The Board will make the final selection of the new superintendent.

Besides candidates contacted by the firm, Godfrey said candidates who have past experiences as a superintendent or an assistant superintendent can apply.

It is unknown whether Interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks will apply as a superintendent candidate for the 2018-19 school year, according to Vicky Lao, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent.

“Some applicants might want to apply confidentially. They can learn more about the job through the search firm.”

Terry Godfrey

District members can also find a detailed timeline of the superintendent search process on the PAUSD website. The Board expects to hire a new superintendent by July 1, 2018, according to Godfrey.

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