Board discusses superintendent search

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

The Sierra Sands Unified School District’s Board of Education held a special meeting Oct. 10 to discuss how to proceed in the process of hiring a new superintendent. Superintendent of Schools Joanna Rummer, hired in November 2004, has submitted her resignation, which will be effective June 30, 2014.

All six board members, Bill Farris, Mike Scott, Kurt Rockwell, Amy Castillo-Covert, Judy Dietrichson and Tom Pearl, were present, as was Rummer.

The first proposal heard by the board was a joking suggestion to deny her resignation and keep her here.

“I’m not going far,” said Rummer. She made it clear she wants to spend time with her new grandbabies.

Farris, president of the board, led the discussion. “We’ve got to find the best person for this impossible job. Jody has shown us this job is possible. It takes the right person with the right commitment.”

Board members expressed a desire to grant the opportunity first to local candidates, but not to preclude anyone outside the district from applying.

The issue of whether or not to hire a consultant to guide the process was discussed at length. Suggestions were made to see if Kern County has such a consultant available at the county level, whether to hire for limited services and whether to put this service out to bid. All agreed that a consultant’s expertise would be helpful to make sure they were setting up their process correctly, but they were concerned about the potential cost.

“This [hiring a superintendent] is the most important thing we do. We don’t want to cut costs to the point we can’t do this right,” said Scott.

“We need community involvement — that’s where the consultant comes in handy, to know what works and what doesn’t,” said Rockwell. “Maybe some community members should be on the selection committee for their input.”

“It’s important to involve the community so we have their input, but at the end of the day, it’s the board’s decision. The community needs to be part of the process, but the board has a greater understanding of what’s involved than anyone in the community will have,” said Farris.

“We think we want to solicit some proposals from professionals on how to structure this process, and we would like to entertain the concept of putting this in place sooner so there will be some overlap in transition.”

All agreed they did not want to exclude potential candidates but would see inherent value in a candidate who is invested in the community.

“We could put out a request for proposals from consultants and add that to the concurrent board agenda and have their presentation at the next board meeting, and other presentations at other meetings,” suggested Farris. “If it doesn’t work, then we can have a special meeting again.”

Another factor is time. “I agree with Tom, I think we’re already late on this,” said Castillo-Covert.

The board will need to decide where and how to put out information on the position’s availability, what qualities they are seeking in the successful candidate, how to set up the selection panel, and much more.

Story First Published: 2013-10-16