By Jason KUROSU
The Glendale Unified School District Board of Education continues to search for a new superintendent and discussed how they would move forward with the candidate interview process at a special meeting of the board of education Tuesday night.
Former GUSD Superintendent Dr. Richard Sheehan left the district to take on the responsibilities of superintendent of the Covina Valley Unified School District in June. Sheehan formerly worked as a principal and a teacher in the Covina Valley District.
The district hired search firm McPherson & Jacobsen LLC to aid in the search for viable candidates and guide the district through the interview process.
Consultants from McPherson & Jacobsen presented an executive summary of their findings from meetings conducted with stakeholders and community members, as well as the results from survey responses that identified key issues that a prospective superintendent should be aware of.
McPherson and Jacobsen consultant Ben Johnson said that the community identified key issues that an incoming superintendent would need to be familiar with, namely the Sagebrush territory transfer. Other issues raised at stakeholder and community meetings included equity of resources between the northern and southern areas of the district, communication between all facets of the district and community and implementation of the Common Core state standards, among others.
The consultants also outlined the next steps the board could take in setting up interviews and gathering stakeholder input.
William Huyett, lead consultant, recommended that the board interview candidates confidentially, but with the input of a stakeholder panel.
Huyett said that some candidates, particularly superintendents currently working in other school districts, often feel more comfortable with a confidential process.
The board agreed on using a small stakeholder panel, which would be responsible for analyzing the candidates and sending their input to the board prior to the formal interviews held in late August.
Members of the board identified five groups to be represented on a stakeholder committee: the Glendale Teachers Association, California School Employees Association, Glendale Schools Management Association, Parent-Teacher Association and the Glendale Educational Foundation. The panel could expand to more than five in the coming weeks, but the board expressed a preference for a smaller committee.
Huyett said that there are a number of candidates who have expressed interest in the position, but noted that the time of year has limited the candidate pool.
“This is may be the most difficult time of the year to recruit a superintendent for a school district and yet we are finding interest. Maybe not as much interest as you would find in March, but people genuinely see this as an attractive school district to lead,” said Huyett.
Candidate applications closed on Aug. 6. The final report from McPherson & Jacobsen will be presented to the board on Aug. 18, with a shortlist of candidates. Interviews are scheduled for the end of August.
The board of education also discussed the district’s interest in obtaining property for a new administrative building, which district officials hope will keep them from undergoing a costly renovation of the district’s current administrative building.
Sam Manoukian, a real estate agent with Re/Max Optima, said that talks between the district and developer Chandler Pratt, who originally proposed an exchange of properties for the building at 1011 Grandview Ave. in Glendale, have stalled.
The school district and the developers could not meet eye to eye on conditions for the exchange. Manoukian said that the building could become an option in the future, but that currently both parties appear to have different priorities in mind for a property exchange.
“A school district operates under a different set of guidelines and a totally different time schedule [than a private entity]. Everything we do is transparent and everything the private world does is the complete opposite. Understandably, there are certain things that they need to keep confidential,” said Manoukian. “If anyone presents something to the board, it’s going to have to be under your set of guidelines, which gives us the ability to present this to the public and get input.”
Manoukian called the Grandview property “the No. 1 property, if I had to give a ranking, for the school district to consider for the exchange. However, it has to be on terms and conditions that work for you guys.”
The district previously discussed upgrading the current GUSD building on Jackson Street at a July board meeting. Proposed upgrades would include doubling parking capacity to reduce local traffic, consolidating a number of district services into one building, and bringing the facility up to compliance with current ADA standards.
According to Manoukian, such improvements would cost around $15.5 million.
“These numbers do not include anything as far as increasing the size of the building,” Manoukian added.
Extra money would also be needed to construct other additions the district hopes to include in a new building, such as a professional development center. However, the district would not be allowed to use Measure S bond money to upgrade the building.