Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 21, 2014

Board huddles in closed session on superintendent search

Brief closed-door meeting follows open 'wish list' session

by Chris Kenrick

Palo Alto school board members briefly met with search consultants behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss possible candidates to replace Superintendent Kevin Skelly, who plans to step down June 30.

The closed session followed a public meeting during which the board kicked off its formal search process by generating a wish list of qualities of the ideal candidate.

In round after round during which board members were asked to state desirable qualities, the first five mentioned were communication skills, vision and leadership that inspires the whole community, integrity, hiring-savvy and someone who can create high-quality academic environments for all students, combined with an emphasis on social-emotional support.

Two retired California school superintendents who are partners in Leadership Associates, the consulting firm the district has hired to manage the search, took notes on the long list of board preferences.

To solicit community comment, the search consultants have posted an online survey, posted at www.surveymonkey.com/s/ZX7PZRM, and also will hold three public meetings next week.

The first public forum will be held Tuesday, March 25, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Jordan Middle School, 750 N. California Ave. The second will be held Wednesday, March 26, from 9 to 10 a.m. in Conference Room A at the school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave. The third forum will be held later that day from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the boardroom of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.

By the first week of April, the search consultants said, they will advertise a detailed "position description," with an application deadline of April 14.

Consultant Phil Quon, a former superintendent in Cupertino and San Jose, said his firm began fielding inquiries about the Palo Alto vacancy shortly after Skelly's Feb. 18 resignation announcement, well before Leadership Associates was even hired to manage the search.

"Candidate recruitment is passive and active," Quon said. "It was active the minute we knew Palo Alto was open. People called us even before we knew we were doing the search ... and we'll talk about some potential candidates in a closed session today."

In a timetable discussed Wednesday, the board would meet April 30 with consultants to discuss which candidates to interview; hold the interviews all day May 15; visit the district of the finalist sometime after that and take action on a new hire at a board meeting June 3 or June 17.

For updates on the superintendent search process, the district is directing people to the Superintendent Search web page at pausd.org/community/board/SuperintendentSearch/index.shtml or to Skelly's administrative assistant Kathleen Ruegsegger at 650-329-3737 or kruegsegger@pausd.org.

Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at ckenrick@paweekly.com.

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