The school board is aiming to select a firm to lead its search for a new superintendent on Nov. 28, when four companies will make public presentations.
The board has narrowed down a list of 12 potential firms to the final four: Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates; Leadership Associates; McPherson & Jacobson; and Ray and Associates.
On Nov. 28, partners from each firm will make a 20-minute presentation and the board will have 40 minutes to ask questions. Board members said Tuesday they plan to take a vote in open session at the end of the meeting on their selection, but reserved the option to set a special meeting if they need more time.
The firm will help the district look for a replacement for former Superintendent Max McGee, who resigned suddenly this fall. The district is being led on an interim basis by Karen Hendricks, who was hired in August as human resources director.
The Illinois-based Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, has conducted searches for nearby districts including the Ravenswood City School District, Cupertino Union School District, Sequoia Union High School District, Woodside Elementary School District and Portola Valley Elementary School District, according to a proposal the firm submitted to the board.
Board member Melissa Baten Caswell noted that McGee is now working for Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates' parent company; the board decided that this did not constitute a conflict of interest.
Leadership Associates conducted the last two superintendent searches in Palo Alto Unified, resulting in the hiring of McGee in 2014 and his predecessor, Kevin Skelly, in 2007. As a Santa Barbara-based firm, the company focuses its work on California districts, its proposal states. Leadership Associates has worked with the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, San Mateo Union High School District and San Jose Unified School District, among others.
McPherson & Jacobson, which is based in Nebraska, represents the California School Boards Association in superintendent searches. While the firm is based in Nebraska, it employs 15 consultants in California who "understand California and its unique requirements and laws," its proposal reads.
Ray and Associates, based in Iowa, does less work in California, but has conducted searches for districts including Berkeley Unified and Poway Unified, according to the firm's proposal.
"We have often found excellent in-state candidates who would not otherwise have applied for the position due to a possible conflict of interest with a state or local firm," the proposal states.
Board members will be conducting reference checks for each firm between now and the Nov. 28 meeting. They also agreed to seek questions and input from groups including its employee unions before the meeting.
The board is aiming to finalize a contract with the selected firm in December, with the goal of hiring a new superintendent by July.
The Nov. 28 meeting will start at 5 p.m. at the district office, 25 Churchill Ave.