Eureka superintendent search picks up steam

By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein, The Press-Tribune
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A total of 33 education professionals would like a shot at running the Eureka Union School District. That’s how many applications the California School Boards Association’s superintendent search adviser received by the close of business April 18, the last day to submit resumes, EUSD Board President Jerri Davis said. “I was totally impressed,” she said. “I’m actually very happy we have that level of interest.” Davis and the rest of the board will meet in closed session today with the adviser, Bill Murchinson, who will present them with a list of qualified candidates that’s been whittled down by a CSBA screening committee. The step is the latest in a series as the board determines who will lead the district as current superintendent Bob Schultz prepares to retire at the end of the school year. The job pays $150,000, though the terms are negotiable, according to the brochure for the position. The board has been preparing for the next phase in the process for months. Earlier this year, members sought public input, through meetings and a mailer, on what personal characteristics the next leader should have. That, along with trustees’ own considerations, was condensed into a list provided to potential applicants that, among other things, listed honesty, vision, communication skills and “sense of humor.” “We’re a small community and we need to have someone who is very approachable and a sense of humor is part of that,” Davis said of the latter. “We need someone who’s going to help us work as a team as we move forward as part of a district that is experiencing an inordinate amount of change.” Those changes include the implementation of a new district vision and the recommendations of the long range planning task force, a wide-ranging study group whose proposals on getting the financially troubled district back on track – including two school closures and the creation of a district charter school – are slated for board approval May 13. The next superintendent will also likely face continuing declining enrollment and a shaky and unpredictable state budget. But he or she will also inherit a district with several advantages, including what’s generally regarded as stellar standardized test scores and an involved parent community. Candidates “will know it’s a huge commitment and undertaking on day one,” Davis said. After today’s meeting, trustees will schedule interviews with candidates for May 16 and 17. Applicants at that stage will also be questioned by a superintendent selection advisory council, composed of parents, teachers and administrators, who will provide a breakdown on candidates’ strengths and weaknesses – but not a recommendation – to the board. A finalists’ round of interviews will take place May 18, which could be followed by visits to the hopefuls’ home districts. “There’s a lot of scrutiny going on there and that’s as it should be,” Davis said. The board is scheduled to vote on a new superintendent’s contract at their June 10 meeting.