Sunday, February 28, 2010

Superintendent Search
(Why do a Closed Search?)

I first got involved in school district politics when I felt my voice wasn't being heard during a principal hiring. It seems ironic, then that one of the earliest things I'd do is participate in a "closed" search for a new superintendent.

What is a closed search? A closed search is on in which the candidates meet only with the Board of Trustees and the advisers we have hired (Leadership Associates). The candidates do not meet with any members of staff, nor anyone from the PTA's, LAEF, or any other stakeholder.

Before the Board hired Leadership Associates, I reached out to several neighboring districts where Leadership Associates had run their search, and had used a closed process. For example, I spoke to both community members and trustees in Los Gatos. They have a district similar to ours (similar size, similar demographics, an active educational foundation and PTA community, etc.) Community members met with Leadership Associates and provided input early in the process. They felt that the resulting hire was an excellent fit for their district. Likewise, the Board member I spoke with has been pleased with the Superintendent they have hired. Thier search was a closed process.

In talking to Leadership Associates, they told us that a closed search would yield a much better candidate pool, including many candidates who might not otherwise consider putting their name in the ring. Candidates simply don't want to have to explain to their existing Board and community why they are considering moving to another district. Having validated the results of this process with Los Gatos, with former members of the Palo Alto School Board, and others, I've become more comfortable with this approach.

I still urge community members to make their voices heard. While the formal input sessions have already been conducted, I'd invite any feedback you might like to share. Please feel free to drop me a line with any thoughts on what you'd like to see in a new Superintendent.

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