With no permanent superintendent at the helm in Palo Alto Unified following Max McGee's early resignation last month, the school board is preparing to launch in earnest a search for his permanent replacement.
Board members will discuss on Tuesday evening their next steps in the process, which will be led by President Terry Godfrey with the support of the district's newly named interim human resources director, current Barron Park Elementary School Principal Anne Brown. The board is set to approve a contract for Brown's new appointment on Tuesday.
The board will also review the district's two most recent superintendent searches — in 2007, which ended in the hiring of Kevin Skelly and in 2014, when McGee was hired — and provide feedback to Godfrey on what to replicate or disregard from those processes.
In both 2007 and 2014, the board decided to hire the same executive search firm, Leadership Associates, from about five options. Both times, the monthslong process cost the district about $35,000, according to the district.
Board members will discuss on Tuesday a list of nine firms compiled by the district and could either narrow the group down to about five, choose to solicit input from most or all of them and/or suggest other firms to consider, Godfrey wrote in a report for the meeting.
They'll also discuss what kinds of questions to ask the firms during interviews. In 2014, questions ranged from "What is your experience in conducting statewide versus national search for a California superintendent?" to "What happens if a suitable candidate does not emerge?" and "What do you see as the biggest challenge for us in filling our superintendent position?" according to a document included in the board agenda.
A draft timeline plans several meetings and deadlines through the end of the calendar year focused on selecting the search firm. The final selection of a firm will take place in a public meeting with presentations from the finalists.
Dates for posting the job itself, soliciting comprehensive community input, candidate interviews, a "validation visit" to the finalist's home district and more are still to be determined. The district aims to have a new superintendent on board by July 1, 2018.
In 2014, the district had a more compressed timeline. The district started searching for a new replacement for Skelly in February, and McGee officially accepted the job in late May. He was hired by that summer.
The board's next steps will be to issue solicitations for proposals from search firms and create a webpage to post information for the public on the search process.
Tuesday's board meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave. View the agenda here.