School board to look more broadly for superintendent-search firm

Final selection to take place at public meeting later this year

UPDATE: On Oct. 27, the board sent requests for proposal to six search firms: The Cosca Group; Dave Long & Associates; Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates; Leadership Associates; McPherson & Jacobson; and Ray and Associates. The board will meet on Nov. 16 from 8-10 a.m. to review the firms’ proposals and choose three to four for in-person interviews. Candidate presentations and selection will take place at another public meeting on Nov. 28, 5-10 p.m.

Palo Alto school board members agreed Tuesday to "cast a wide net" in their search for a firm that will help the district find a new superintendent.

The board considered a list of nine firms, including Leadership Associates, which the district used in the last two superintendent searches, but a majority agreed there was no good way for them to evaluate the firms without more information.

They did drop two firms from the list who haven't done work in California and agreed to add the California School Boards Association, which provides search services in partnership with a law firm. At the suggestion of board member Todd Collins, they also decided to consider well-known corporate search firms, many of which are based in the area.

Board member Melissa Baten Caswell, who participated in the district's last two superintendent searches in 2007 and 2014, said she preferred to winnow down to a smaller list of firms. In-person interviews with the actual partners who will lead the work are more enlightening than written proposals, she said.

She also encouraged all board members to participate in the process, rather than relying on a subgroup or on staff.

"Hiring and firing the superintendent is the No. 1 responsibility of school board," Baten Caswell said.

Godfrey, who is overseeing the process with the support of senior staff, will next draft a letter to send out to firms. The board tentatively decided to discuss the firms that respond and assign reference checks to each member at a special meeting on Nov. 16.

The final selection of a firm will take place in a public meeting with presentations from the finalists.

The board noted it had more time than previous boards did in 2007 and 2014 to find a new superintendent. It's launching the search process a month after the sudden resignation of Superintendent Max McGee.

The district aims to have a new superintendent in place by July 2018.

In other business Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to reopen negotiations with its teachers and classified unions to discuss a bonus scheduled for the end of the school year.

They also voted 3-2, with Vice President Ken Dauber and Trustee Todd Collins dissenting, to approve a schematic design for a renovation of Hoover Elementary School. They postponed voting on a proposal to build new multipurpose rooms at Escondido and El Carmelo elementary schools to a later date, wanting to wait until a new district-wide facilities master plan currently underway is more fully developed.


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Search
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Nov 1, 2017 at 6:09 pm

Search is a registered user.

Editor - has CSBA been dropped?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Why is it becoming increasingly impossible to open a restaurant on the Peninsula?
By Elena Kadvany | 27 comments | 5,097 views

Firing Judge Persky as a tennis coach was a big mistake
By Diana Diamond | 23 comments | 2,829 views

Electric Buses: A case study
By Sherry Listgarten | 3 comments | 2,184 views

It just takes time
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 562 views

Helping Partners Become Couples (vs. Helping Couples Become Partners)
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 461 views



On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Register now