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Superintendent search process

Original post made by Sandy Piderit, Mohr Park, on Nov 16, 2009

Last Friday, the PUSD board hired Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates to assist with the search for a new Superintendent. (John Casey has indicated his intention to retire.)

According to the proposal submitted by HYA last Tuesday, the firm's first steps will be to meet with the board to finalize a plan for the search process, and then conduct interviews with key members of the community in order to develop a leadership profile identifying the characteristics desired for the next superintendent. There will also be community forum events, and a survey of community members.

Who do you think the board should identify as key members of the community to be interviewed?

What would you tell the board are the most important characteristics for a new superintendent?

Comments (38)

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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Nov 16, 2009 at 1:22 pm

My suggestions on interviewees:
- PTA presidents and other leaders from various schools
- other parent volunteers
- former board members who worked with previous superintendents
- city mayor and major business leaders (esp. parents)
- principals

Key criteria:
- fiscal management expertise (experience with CA funding a plus)
- a record of achievement in pursuing educational excellence by working with teachers, staff, parents, and students
- strong evidence of collaborative work style
- able to effectively evaluate current programs and personnel
- demonstrated ability to coach principals and other staff
- experience as a superintendent in another district, or significant experience as an associate superintendent in a large district


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 16, 2009 at 3:47 pm

A key member of the community who will provide factual, logical, and unemotional input...KATHLEEN RUEGSEGGER. That is, if they want the truth, but maybe they "can't hanldle the truth."


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Amador Estates
on Nov 16, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Anyone without an agenda.....


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 16, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Everyone has an "agenda" and if the money is going to be spent on this process, then let them see ALL SIDES!


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Amador Estates
on Nov 16, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Sorry, I should have said a "personal" agenda!


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 16, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Sandy, They will include union leadership in the criteria setting process. I'd like to see successful business leaders from our community included in the discussion who know the marks of a good leadership.

I would prefer to see an experienced superintendent; this is not a district for a long learning curve. Willingness to be transparent with the community about all public information would also be important. Openness to innovative ideas . . . not all best practices really are best, and not all ideas will be good no matter how innovative.

I believe anyone who has thoughts about desirable traits can write to HYA Web Link . Here is information on Carolyn McKennan who is part of the team: Web Link I am certain they would maintain confidentiality if asked, so anyone should be able to participate that has a desire to do so.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 16, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Parent: I don't know how you can be a taxpayer, parent, employee, or student and not have this decision be part of an agenda. It will affect most of us, our children, or grandchildren in some way for years to come, so it will be personal by nature to those who participate. And I think that's okay--HYA should be able to filter the input for what is relevant in finding the best applicants. After all, I believe they are all current or former superintendents themselves and will understand the underlying qualities we are looking for as individuals and as a community.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Amador Estates
on Nov 16, 2009 at 11:27 pm


I think PUSD should hire Jumbo the elephant. He will work for peanuts. Just what we need to help control expenses.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 6:45 am

"A key member of the community who will provide factual, logical, and unemotional input...KATHLEEN RUEGSEGGER."

I have mixed feelings about someone like Kathleen having too much input.

She opposed the parcel tax, and I have read her arguments, but come on, she works for the Palo Alto district, and if you look there, they have fat to trim as well, problems with finances. Yet knowing what a great thing a parcel tax can be, Kathleen opposed it.

Someone with a degree in a field other than education would be a better superintendent, in my opinion. Someone who can make sound decisions, knowing that a good education requires yes, to pay those in charge well, and someone who can understand the need for a parcel tax in this financial crisis.

I would not like to see a superintendent that thought like her, I want Pleasanton schools to be competitive, just like in districts that have parcel taxes in place (Cupertino, Palo Alto, etc).


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 6:49 am

I do not think that PTA members are necessarily a good source of input. They do not necessarily understand what it takes to run a district, and some do not even have college degrees.

PTA members are great for what they do, but their input is not necessarily needed for the superintendent search, not anymore than any random parent who has been around.

I would prefer to have business leaders who are also parents in the community, to have input. As far as previous board members, I am not sure about that. Times change, and two former board members opposed the parcel tax, and one of them if I recall, even had a big page on the Pleasanton Weekly, I would prefer not to have those folks have too much input into a superintendent search. Times have changed.


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Posted by A Temp
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 7:29 am

Politicians say more taxes will solve everything


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 17, 2009 at 7:41 am

Resident, First, any taxpayer who wishes to participate should be allowed input into the process (including PTA). I also think our current and past high school students can speak to their learning experiences--good and bad. Each participant will have a different perspective of the district, school, or classroom.

Second, I opposed Measure G for very specific reasons.

Third, under some changes to process/language, I would happily support a new attempt.

Fourth, I have 15 years experience, and counting--I still work in K-12 education.

Fifth, I would encourage any input that provides a historical look at the community and our schools, because while times have changed, you don't want to lose what did or has provided value for students.


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 17, 2009 at 8:04 am

Resident, Missed your other posting. I am one person, so I can't have anymore input than say, you. I will present my input based on the superintendents I have worked with and know. I don't think there will be any one candidate that agrees with me on everything. I wouldn't want that either. Dialog is important, however.

As to Palo Alto, anyone can do all the research to explain what is happening and how it is being addressed. It's available at Web Link

What is meant by "schools that are competitive"? Isn't it about providing the right balance of opportunities for students so they can be successful? Certainly they are the ones that will have to do the competing.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 8:54 am

To Kathleen,

I believe that what is meant by "schools that are competitive", means schools that are as good as or better than others. Schools also do competing. People vote with their feet. People with children, when buying a new home, will often look to school districts as an important factor. Schools also compete in attracting teachers and principals. Better school districts get better teachers.

Students will be competing. Schools will be competing.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:20 am

Stacey is a registered user.

PUSD's compensation for teachers is competitive.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:23 am

To Stacey,

It will be hard to maintain competitive compensation for teachers and principals if PUSD lacks a source of revenue that other districts don't lack. We need to thing about the future and the present.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:28 am

Stacey is a registered user.

So we need a parcel tax to pay for raises?


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Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:38 am

a reader, I understand that, but I don't think schools need to compete for blue ribbon status, golden bells, or other awards. The work of the students will show in multiple measures that parents can easily use to determine which schools are providing adequately for the learning lives of students (SATs, AP scores, API, college attendance . . . ). Superior program and student success speak for themselves. There is unnecessary pressure and time wasted in looking for competitive awards.


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Posted by Rita
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:38 am

Reader,

I have a question for you? Are you are teacher or are you affliated with someone who is? The reason I ask is that you always seem to state in some form that the answer to everything is giving the teachers more money when everyone is dying to be a Pleasanton teacher as it is.


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Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Nov 17, 2009 at 10:06 am

I appreciate those who have commented so far. Right now, my aim is to generate a long list of those who the community would like to see invited to give their input. As community members, we cannot veto anyone's participation in this process. Ultimately, it will be up to board members to consider how to weigh input from different sources.

I included major business leaders on my original list of those whose input could be valuable, especially if they are parents of children in this district.

I included PTA leaders because they typically have been involved in volunteering and fundraising for the schools, and have heard the views of many other parents during that time. They might be able to represent more perspectives than just their own.

Any parent of a child in the district would certainly be welcome to provide input. A college degree is not a requirement for participating in this process.

Asking union leaders for input would be one way to hear about the concerns of teachers and staff. Another way would be to solicit their views about the desired characteristics of a superintendent directly. I'm sure that both will be included in the process.

I am sure that Kathleen will offer her input, as I will. I hope that others who post here regularly about schools will do so as well. Stacey is one person who comes to mind for me. We may not always see eye to eye on every issue -- but that is absolutely the benefit of getting input from multiple sources.

I want participation in the generating of desired characteristics for the next superintendent to be as broad as possible, so that we can be sure that we end up with a new hire who meets or exceeds the expectations of all the significant segments of our community.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 17, 2009 at 10:18 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Sandy,

I didn't mean to hijack your thread over parcel taxes again.

It would be interesting to find someone who could help us compete for Race to the Top funds if California can qualify. To be really competitive against other districts isn't always found through copying outright whatever they're doing. That isn't to say that there isn't some value in evaluating what is working in other districts. It is only to say that we must also offer something unique and effective that makes our district a desirable place. For example, in another thread Kathleen mentioned a school with red/green days...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Nov 17, 2009 at 10:25 am

Hi Stacey,

You weren't the first to raise issues of taxes on this thread. I would like to see us focused on characteristics of a new superintendent here. I don't think supporting or oppposing a parcel tax should be used as a litmus test.

I agree with you about someone who would be willing to apply for competitive funds like the Race for the Top. (In fact, as you were writing your comment, I was posting on another thread about the same thing!)

We certainly need a new superintendent who can evaluate existing programs with a critical eye, and who is able to pursue innovative programs that will benefit students.

Other characteristicts that would be desirable for a new superintendent?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Katheryn
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Nov 17, 2009 at 11:08 am

I understand that money is spent in PUSD before knowing how much we're receiving from The State, much like every other district, so we're forced to make cuts after the budget is finalized which can put us into a deeper hole. I'm wondering if Is The City of Pleasanton's budget is much the same? If so, it might be beneficial to have seasoned city employees familiar with this type of budgeting available for input.

Indeed, time's are changing and the average Pleasanton resident is a bit more educated on the inner workings of The District than ever before. This is a great time to keep the motiviation for "change" going in a positive direction before the economy gains steam, people begin to loose interest and PUSD slips under the radar again.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 17, 2009 at 11:26 am

Governments and school districts operate under the 'use it or lose it' principle, which is not being fiscally responsible. They like to spend every penny they have. They hire people they can't afford to keep on the payroll. It is amazing that public sector and education employees have the ability to retire in their early 50s to late 50s when those of us in commercial industry are lucky to retire at age 70.

Notice that Mt. Diablo school district just invoked a salary freeze on employees through the year 2013.

The PUSD superintendent make a huge error in not negotiating with the union for a similar concession and instead when to the taxpayers for a bailout last spring in the form of the parcel tax. The PUSD superintendent did not reduce his own compensation package and "lead by example."

What we are left with is a community with great animosity to our local government and local school district.

What we need on the selection committee is someone who has financial management and cost-cutting experience in commercial industry.

When commercial companies have less revenue, the engage in cost cutting measures.

When school districts and governments have less appropriation money to spend (which is taxpayer money), they tend to call it "revenue" even though it isn't actually revenue. It is a government budget allotment of taxpayer dollars. They then point fingers at the 'evil' state or 'evil' Federal government for not giving them enough taxpayer money to operate.

We need someone in a leadership position who can cut the wasteful spending in the District, improve morale for its teachers, regain the trust of the public and spends his or her time actually managing the district, rather than going out on road-shows pushing for a parcel tax.


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Posted by a concerned mom
a resident of Mohr Park
on Nov 17, 2009 at 12:00 pm

My first concern is our district doesn't have an extra $25k-$40k to use an expensive search firm for this process (especially when most of them use the internet as their primary source).

My biggest concern in this process though is that our new superintendent will have very little ability to help fix any issues our school district is dealing with. Our school board just voted to extend the contracts of our three asst. superintendents for the next three years!!! How much change can one person make when he or she is tied to a leadership team that has helped create some of these issues for another 3 years?

I think it is great to have someone with educational experience, but isn't that what most of our district management team already has? We need someone with strong business experience to come in, manage the funds we do receive appropriately, build morale with the teachers & classified staff who feel so unappreciated, and ensure that our students are receiving the best education possible.

All politics aside, I have grave concerns for my 3 children as I hear the problems that are being created for our students in the coming years.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 12:24 pm

To Rita,

You said,

"Are you are teacher or are you affliated with someone who is?"

No, I'm not a teacher, and don't have any close friends or relatives who are.

You said,

"when everyone is dying to be a Pleasanton teacher as it is."

Do you mean teachers are dying to transfer to teach in Pleasanton? Why do you say that is true. Are teachers in the San Ramon district dying to teach in Pleasanton? I haven't heard that.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 12:31 pm

To Kathleen,

"There is unnecessary pressure and time wasted in looking for competitive awards. "

I don't know how much effort went in to winning these awards. I agree with you that it shouldn't be excessive of interfere with those other goals.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm

In my earlier comment I never suggested or implied that Kathleen Ruegsegger be interviewed for the Supt. job, I merely pointed out that she has enough knowledge to provide information. Just because she opposed the parcel tax, has an "agenda", or works for another school district is not reason to deny her.
This process is a "survey" of the community. If you survey only liberals or only conservatives, then you are going to get a skewed view. From the logic of some here, I get the feeling that only Pro-G people should be part of the process. Its either that, or some of you seem to have your own "agenda" against Kathleen.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rita
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 17, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Reader,

My sister in law, nieces (2) have been trying to transfer to Pleasanton for the longest time. One teaches in San Ramon and the others in Livermore. They say that because their husbands get medical benefits it would work to there benefit to teach in Pleasanton because the salaries are already so much higher here than there.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 2:56 pm

To Rita,

And I know of teachers who want to get a job in San Ramon. I have heard of Livermore teachers wanting to get a job in Pleasanton because we have historically had a better school district.

"because the salaries are already so much higher here than there."

Do you have any links that show that the total compensation for teachers here in Pleasanton is that much higher than in San Ramon? Please share them if you have.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 3:11 pm

To Rita,

Oh, I see you said "husbands get medical benefits ...". Well, not everyone can get that. You really have to look at total compensation package, including benefits, if you want to compare. For that matter, you also need to look at class sizes. San Ramon now has the additional draw of smaller class sizes, which teachers universally prefer.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 17, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

A reader,

Your comments seem to indicate that you aren't aware of this particular detail of PUSD compensation compared with other districts. PUSD puts benefits "on the schedule". That means that the cash they save from not paying for a health insurance benefit for teachers, they instead give directly to teachers. So teachers who are married and receive benefits from a spouse who either works in the private sector or works in another district with this benefit actively seek a position in Pleasanton in order to pocket the extra cash. I hear that this is known as "The Pleasanton Plan". Teachers who would not otherwise be covered, have to purchase it out of their paycheck. This move to put benefits "on the schedule" had to be approved by the union.

The website you'll want to look at is ed-data (Web Link).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Stacey: if what you say about benefits is correct, then the national health care plan on the works will hurt Pleasanton. My understanding is, that employers who do not provide their employees with health care (ie, employees may find the public option cheaper and thus more attractive) will be penalized.... 8% for private companies under the house bill, do you know how that will work for districts that work with public funds, such as PUSD?


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 5:42 pm

To Stacey,

Yes, I remember reading something like that, and it looks like it would be a good draw for getting good teachers into PUSD.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 5:43 pm

To Resident,

That is a good question. I wonder how that will work.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sandy Piderit
a resident of Mohr Park
on Nov 17, 2009 at 8:54 pm

OK, now my thread has officially been hijacked.

Search firms for superintendents do NOT rely primarily on the internet.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2009 at 9:10 pm

To Sandy,

I think it just got sidetracked.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 18, 2009 at 7:33 am

HYA indicated they will actively recruit possible candidates. Got anyone in mind--let them know. For the community, I'm reposting this part from above:

I believe anyone who has thoughts about desirable traits can write to HYA Web Link . Here is information on Carolyn McKennan who is part of the team: Web Link I am certain they would maintain confidentiality if asked, so anyone should be able to participate that has a desire to do so.

I'm certain there will be meetings with groups or individuals to sit down with the search firm team. I'm sure one of us can watch for and get the information posted here as well.


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