Pleasanton Weekly

News - April 2, 2010

School board narrows down superintendent candidate pool to 4

Community panel, interviews planned to help select Pleasanton Unified's new leader

by Emily West

After a series of interviews, the Pleasanton Unified School District board has taken a pool of just over 30 applicants to four candidates still in the running to replace Superintendent John Casey when he retires June 30.

School board member Valerie Arkin, acting as the liaison between the district and the hired search firm Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd. (HYA), said the process has gone well so far.

The candidates include two men and two women, all of whom are from outside of the school district.

"The process is coming along just fine," Arkin said. "We are all pretty satisfied. They are strong candidates who would each bring a little something different."

Next steps would include conducting second interviews and having a community panel meet the candidates and provide input. Arkin said the plan is to do that April 16 and 17.

The community panel would include a representative from the teacher's and classified staff unions, a representative from management as well as two constituents picked by each board member. Panel members have yet to be chosen and would likely have to sign a confidentiality agreement.

"We are asking them to give us input, but realize the decision doesn't rest with them, but the board," Arkin said.

That decision isn't one the board is taking lightly.

"It's a tough decision and a lot of responsibility comes with it," she added.

With the school district facing budget challenges in the coming years, some community members have expressed concern over the new leader's salary. Currently, Casey makes $227,000 plus benefits. Arkin said they have not yet decided or discussed the salary package, but in early public meetings with HYA, they were encouraged to keep the package competitive in order to attract high-quality applicants.

The school board hired HYA in December, with Arkin and board President Chris Grant negotiating the contract. While the base consulting fee for HYA is $21,500 with charges for out-of-pocket expenses and traveling not included, the two worked to secure several "a la carte" services for free, Grant said. He said the expected total cost to the district would likely be between $28,000 and $31,000.

In January, the search firm conducted interviews with community leaders as well as holding focus groups with parents at the district site. These meetings had small turnout, but parents also had the opportunity to provide similar feedback to HYA by faxing in a form that was available online.

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