A timeline of the Superintendent search process was covered at a special meeting of the Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees on Monday, Jan. 10. Dr. Wendell Chun of Educational Leadership Services (ELS), who was selected to conduct the school district’s search for a new superintendent, provided the review.
The search typically takes three months to perform the necessary activities, starting with the board’s approval of the timeline and the announcement of the position’s vacancy. Chun asked for community and staff input to take place on Friday, Jan. 21 and Saturday, Jan. 22. He’s accepting appointments, scheduled through the school district office, starting at 9 a.m. on each day. He will meet individually with board members, district staff, people recommended by the board, groups, and other individuals in the community who wish to participate in the process.
There are also surveys that can be taken by members of the community on the school district website, or they may be picked up at the school sites or the school district office. One question on the survey, Chun said, will ask what is perceived to be the significant issues the district will face in the next three to five years.
Chun also said there are three primary questions that need to be answered in order to conduct a successful search. He listed them as: What type of person is wanted for the next Superintendent? What are the professional skills and abilities needed? What experience and educational background is needed?
By the end of the month after reviewing the input, Chun will have drafted a Leadership Profile. The board will review the profile criteria at a Feb. 7 open meeting and approve the language for an electronic and standard brochure. Also at that time, in closed session, the board will begin developing interview questions. They will filter through approximately 130 sample questions, add their own, and then narrow them down to the top 20 questions. The top 20 questions will be due to ELS by Feb. 11.
In mid-March, Chun will review a draft of final interview questions with the board in a closed session meeting. He noted that law requires that the same questions must be asked to each candidate in the first round of interviews. Subsequent interviews do not have to follow that process.
Applications for the superintendent position will close on March 14. Candidates will be screened “on paper” by a professional screening committee, which will also perform reference checks. On March 28 the top candidates will be recommended to the board. Chun said that he will probably recommend six candidates but he may only recommend four, for example, if there are only four who he feels would fit. The board then also determines the candidates they wish to interview.
Interviews will be held April 1 and 2 only. One hour and 15 minutes is allotted for each interview. The board will then determine the top two or three candidates for second round interviews. Prior to the top candidate being notified, a nationwide background check will be conducted.
The board also has the option of visiting the top candidate’s community, which Chun recommended doing sometime during the first full week of April.
Following that, ELS will assist the board with negotiating a contract with the top candidate. Chun also recommended that, even though it is of additional expense to the district, OJUSD should have its legal counsel review their contract for any changes in the law.
According to the timeline, a new superintendent should be selected and a contract signed by April 22.
The position will be advertised in the Association of California Administrators newspaper, which is where Chun said superintendents and administrators go to look for available jobs. Four 5x3 ads, at a cost of $195 per issue totaling approximately $800, will run on Jan. 24, Jan 31, Feb. 14, and Feb. 28. Chun said he felt the district “will be well-served by a 5x3 (ad).”
Chun said that he has posted the Oakdale Superintendent job on his website and has already received several calls. Chun will also recruit candidates by reaching out to superintendents who fit the Oakdale criteria but are not necessarily looking for a change.
Each applicant will have to submit a letter of application, a résumé, five recent letters of reference, their credentials, and will have to submit to a background check.
To schedule an appointment with Chun to add input on the search, contact Debbie Galvan-Benbow at (209) 848-4884, ext. 105. Online surveys may be obtained by going to www.oakdale.k12.ca.us and clicking on Superintendent Selection Survey link under the What’s News heading on the main page. Surveys are due by Friday, Jan. 21.
Chun also said that he will be posting updates of the OJUSD Superintendent search process on his website at www.edleadershipservices.net.