Recently, the school board met to receive pitches from three search consultant firms that would help the board hire a new superintendent following the resignation of previous superintendent Mary Streshly. Tensions with the teacher’s union preceded Streshly’s resignation, but she ultimately left her position due to family reasons. Currently, assistant superintendent Crystal Leach is serving as acting superintendent.
After transitioning to the newly elected school board, the decision of which company to hire will be made on December 16th. New board member Rich Ginn said, “At the December 16th meeting, the school board will discuss the three superintendent search firms that presented, hear any comments from the public, then decide which group to select.”
“Part of the search firm engagement includes them running a process to gather input from the SUHSD community about desired characteristics in the new superintendent…That said, I believe that the new superintendent will need to rebuild trust and relationships throughout the district and that will require strong and clear communication skills. California school district leaders must be familiar with the California education code which favors in-state candidates, but I am open to considering out-of-state candidates,” said Gin.
Multiple companies stressed the importance of starting the search for a new superintendent in December so that the Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) can be ahead of other districts in this process. Many superintendents announce their retirement at the beginning of the year, in January or February, so being ahead will allow our district to have first pick for our new superintendent.
The first company to present was Hazard Young Attea Associates (HYA). HYA was the company used to hire Streshly in 2017. In the meeting, they discussed that a mark of an effective hire is that the superintendent remains in office for at least five years, although Streshly stayed for three.Their proposed timeline estimates that a new superintendent will be appointed in April.
The second presentation was by McPherson and Jacobson. McPherson and Jacobson stated that for 80-90% of their clients the process to find a new superintendent in three to four months.
To promote diversity, McPherson and Jacobson will intentionally search for people of color and women who fit the district’s criteria for the position. They will also look for candidates with “cultural proficiency” who “know how to support students of all needs” and promote “equity leadership.”
McPherson and Jacobson traditionally encouraged precede interviews by going out for coffee, breakfast, or lunch with candidates so that the meeting can be relaxed in order to get an authentic idea for each interviewee. During Covid-19, they are open to modifying this step to however the board sees fit. They also put candidates through exercises to analyze how they will perform as superintendent.
McPherson and Jacobson also provide additional services without additional fees. These include, assisting the board in “revising and updating the superintendent’s job description,” helping the board write a contract for the new superintendent and assisting negotiations for this contract, and “arranging on-site visits to finalist’s home and community.”
The final company to present was Leadership Associates. Leadership Associates estimates that under their proposed timeline, the new superintendent will start in July. They did say, however, that starting date for the new superintendent could be moved forward as the timeline is flexible.