School board to discuss superintendent search

President drafts tight timetable for selection of Skelly replacement in May

In its first meeting since school Superintendent Kevin Skelly's announcement last week that he will step down June 30, the Palo Alto Board of Education tonight will discuss a process and timeline for finding a replacement.

In sketching out a timeline for the superintendent search, school board President Barb Mitchell dusted off documents from the district's last such search in 2007, following the November 2006 announcement by superintendent Mary Frances Callan that she would retire in August 2007.

In that search, the board by Feb. 1 had settled on a search firm after soliciting proposals from five bidders and interviewing three finalists.

Under Mitchell's proposed timeline for this year, search firm finalists would make presentations to the board March 11, leaving time later in March – and before spring break – for "focus groups and community input forums."

While noting hers is "an optimistic timeline," Mitchell said it could accomplish the goal of soliciting a level of community input similar to that of 2007 and selecting a superintendent finalist in May.

In the 2007 search, the firm Leadership Associates -- a consulting group made up of former school superintendents that also has facilitated the board's annual semi-annual retreats -- solicited community ideas through focus groups and "public, open forums" over several days in March. The deadline for applicants was April 2 and, after reference checks and interviews, Skelly was selected April 28 with a start date of July 1, 2007.

In that search, the Leadership Associates gathered more than 650 "summary inputs on desired superintendent attributes" from a long list of community groups. The process cost $35,000.

Should the board want to abbreviate the process because of this year's shorter time horizon, Mitchell said she would recommend considering the rehiring of Leadership Associates.

The board also will discuss a "conceptual design" for a $19.4 million project at Gunn High School, which involves replacing the current music building with a larger facility, expanding the lobby of Spangenberg Theater and demolishing the old library to create space for new student activities areas.

In other business, the board will hear a report on the Local Control Funding Formula, California's new financing system for schools, which takes effect this year. Under the new system, each school district must adopt a three-year "Local Control Accountability Plan" by July 1.

Following a 5 p.m. closed session in which the board will discuss legal matters, employee discipline and the Cubberley Community Center, the board will convene in public session at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom of school district headquarters at 25 Churchill Ave.

Chris Kenrick


Like this comment
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 25, 2014 at 10:46 am

Why rush???
There is never enough time to do it right , but always enough time to do it over.......

Like this comment
Posted by input
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 25, 2014 at 11:53 am

"In that search, the Leadership Associates gathered more than 650 "summary inputs on desired superintendent attributes" from a long list of community groups. "

Can someone post this list? The only one I could find was from 2000 board packet: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Edmund Burke
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2014 at 2:59 pm

The board should ensure that all voices are heard from -- Site Councils should be very carefully considered as they consist of elected representatives from each school. In addition there are a variety of stakeholder groups, including student groups who should be considered. These range from sports boosters to minority advocates, to Special Education families (who should be carefully considered given the past few years) to local PTAs. Finally, all parents and community members, whether they belong to an organized group or not, should be considered.

The strategic plan should provide the backdrop for all goal setting, since it was just refreshed and survey data was just collected. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Questions about priorities, site based control versus district control, and leadership were included. They should be examined now.

Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Feb 25, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Why don't we just work with and refine the old list in light of what happened since?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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