UPDATE: On Oct. 27, the board sent requests for proposal to six search firms: The Cosca Group; Dave Long & Associates; Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates; Leadership Associates; McPherson & Jacobson; and Ray and Associates. The board will meet on Nov. 16 from 8-10 a.m. to review the firms’ proposals and choose three to four for in-person interviews. Candidate presentations and selection will take place at another public meeting on Nov. 28, 5-10 p.m.
Palo Alto school board members agreed Tuesday to "cast a wide net" in their search for a firm that will help the district find a new superintendent.
The board considered a list of nine firms, including Leadership Associates, which the district used in the last two superintendent searches, but a majority agreed there was no good way for them to evaluate the firms without more information.
They did drop two firms from the list who haven't done work in California and agreed to add the California School Boards Association, which provides search services in partnership with a law firm. At the suggestion of board member Todd Collins, they also decided to consider well-known corporate search firms, many of which are based in the area.
Board member Melissa Baten Caswell, who participated in the district's last two superintendent searches in 2007 and 2014, said she preferred to winnow down to a smaller list of firms. In-person interviews with the actual partners who will lead the work are more enlightening than written proposals, she said.
She also encouraged all board members to participate in the process, rather than relying on a subgroup or on staff.
"Hiring and firing the superintendent is the No. 1 responsibility of school board," Baten Caswell said.
Godfrey, who is overseeing the process with the support of senior staff, will next draft a letter to send out to firms. The board tentatively decided to discuss the firms that respond and assign reference checks to each member at a special meeting on Nov. 16.
The final selection of a firm will take place in a public meeting with presentations from the finalists.
The board noted it had more time than previous boards did in 2007 and 2014 to find a new superintendent. It's launching the search process a month after the sudden resignation of Superintendent Max McGee.
The district aims to have a new superintendent in place by July 2018.
In other business Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to reopen negotiations with its teachers and classified unions to discuss a bonus scheduled for the end of the school year.
They also voted 3-2, with Vice President Ken Dauber and Trustee Todd Collins dissenting, to approve a schematic design for a renovation of Hoover Elementary School. They postponed voting on a proposal to build new multipurpose rooms at Escondido and El Carmelo elementary schools to a later date, wanting to wait until a new district-wide facilities master plan currently underway is more fully developed.