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School board to hire consultant firm to aid superintendent search

Board also discusses standardized testing, adding more community members to committees

The Pleasanton Unified school board decided the district will hire a firm to conduct a search for its next superintendent, rather than doing the search process in-house.

At its Tuesday night meeting, the board unanimously decided to directed staff to prepare and send out a request for proposals from firms that are experienced at navigating the process of selecting a public school district superintendent.

Most searches for superintendents are done via a consultant firm since the time-consuming process would drain staff resources if conducted in-house by district staff, said district lawyer Bob Kingsley of Kingsley Bogard.

The timeline is still up in the air, but a search firm could be selected in a matter of weeks, applications for candidates could go out around January and a new superintendent could be selected in late spring or early summer. Picking the right firm is important, Kingsley said, since it will have a level of control over which applications the board ultimately sees.

The district is searching for a new leader after former superintendent Parvin Ahmadi resigned in May to move to the Castro Valley school district. The board selected retired Amador Valley principal Jim Hansen as the district's interim superintendent, and his contract lasts until June.

The board also heard a presentation about the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CASSPP) assessment -- the new state standardized test that evaluates whether students are absorbing Common Core standards -- and how the district scored compared to the state. The test was given to third through eighth graders, as well as 11th graders.

A total of 80% of Pleasanton Unified students tested met or exceeded English language arts and literacy standards, and 73% met or exceeded math standards. Statewide, 44% of California's public school students met or exceeded English standards, and 33% met or exceeded math standards.

That being said, a greater percentage of Hispanic students, African American students and students who are English learners scored poorer on the test than their white or Asian peers. District staff and board members addressed the need to identify struggling students and to provide as many resources as possible to close that achievement gap.

The board also approved adding spots to the board audit committee and the Local Control Advisory Committee and directed staff to advertise these committee openings.

The board audit committee will add three community members and will begin accepting applications Wednesday. The committee reviews reports external auditors make regarding district finances.

Local Control Advisory Committee, which advises the board and superintendent about how the district can receive resources from the Local Control Funding Formula, will add three more members, as well as three more student members.

While in closed session, the board approved a $76,800 settlement in a legal case with a student to cover educational expenses, as well as an $11,500 settlement in a legal case with a student to cover educational expenses and legal fees.

The board also recognized students who were selected for the Character Awards. Students were nominated by their schools for living and working with integrity. Students selected were: Siena Hunter, Hearst Elementary; Ryan Sugden, Alisal Elementary; Charlotte Nazareno, Harvest Park Middle; and Matthew Villena, Foothill High.

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