District’s search over?

first_imgCASTAIC – Castaic schools could gain a new superintendent today to take the reins of the small school district this summer. Jim Gibson, assistant superintendent of business and administrative services, is the only candidate under consideration by the Castaic Union School District’s school board seeking to replace Superintendent Beverly Silsbee who plans to retire in June. The board will convene this morning for a special meeting to approve his contract. If it gets a majority of votes from the board, Gibson’s new position will be sealed. Gibson was the only applicant for the job in a search that did not extend past district offices. Not everyone is persuaded though that the search for a new superintendent has gone far enough, and some wonder about others out there who could be more qualified to run the school system. The board interviewed Gibson on Saturday for the job. “Most districts, because of the dearth of qualified candidates throughout the nation and California, are trying to grow their own (superintendents),” Loveall said. “It just makes sense because you don’t miss a beat systematically if you have someone already in the system.” Still, some residents have criticized the Castaic board for moving quickly with Gibson’s hire and claim the community was left in the dark when it came to choosing the next leader of the school system. Resident Robert Allen said he was one of three people who attended a community meeting Feb. 4 and that the discussion there revolved around problems with the district, not the potential new hire. The consultant gathered information from that meeting and a previous one with teachers and other staff members and presented it in a report to the board on the day Gibson was interviewed. Allen said he was surprised that within two weeks of the meeting a new superintendent could be hired. He wants more public meetings and conversations about who the community wants to head the school district. “I feel deceived,” he said. “What’s the hurry? Why are they rushing this through?” Superintendent Beverly Silsbee said she took the low turnout at the meeting as a sign that “not a lot of people were concerned.” She said communication with the community about the superintendent search was the board’s responsibility and that it can make the determination if there’s been sufficient input. She said the district has reached out to its staff and community about the search. Teachers filled out surveys and were sent memos about the Feb. 4 meeting. Meanwhile board members spread the word through town-hall meetings, the PTA and other school functions. “It think it’s been fair and upfront all the way. I can understand why someone might not understand that because they’re not in a position of a board member. They’re hearing bits and pieces,” Silsbee said. Some other school districts that went through the same hiring process with the California School Boards Association had longer hiring time frames and more community meetings. In addition to a town-hall meeting, the Santa Barbara School District’s school board mailed home information about the hiring process to parents. Also, a survey was posted online for several weeks that sought information from residents about what they were looking for in a superintendent, said Lynn Rodriguez, then board president. Rodriguez said reports compiled by the consultant – from interviews to questionnaires – were made public. She said the board was criticized for spending money on a search if members knew they were going to hire from within. But she said the payoff came from information gathered by the consultant from residents and teachers that helped shape the superintendent’s contract and the district’s future. “We are in a community where the community very much wants to be involved and help control things,” Rodriguez said. “We never do anything without lots of public discussion.” The search at Sierra Sands Unified School District in Ridgecrest also went smoothly when Superintendent Joanna Rummer was hired from within. The district had a widely publicized community forum that was advertised in newspapers, said Jane Brooks, assistant to the superintendent. However, residents were quite familiar already with Rummer before her hire. She grew up in the area and worked in the district for 20 years before becoming superintendent, Brooks said. Gibson has worked for Castaic since 2004. He previously worked in the Glendale School District. Sue Doyle, (661) 257-5254 sue.doyle@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant “While I think Mr. Gibson is qualified, I’m not 100 percent sure he’s the most qualified person in the entire world,” said John Kunak, board member. A consultant was hired by the board in December to conduct the superintendent search through the California School Boards Association. The hiring process can be conducted on different levels – from limiting the search to inside the district or going countrywide. The larger the search, the bigger the cost. The board approved the smallest search, which was contained to the school district and cost $6,000. Castaic isn’t the only district that hasn’t looked past its administration for a new superintendent. In fact there have been eight other superintendent searches done this way in the state since this process began last year, said Richard Loveall, director of Executive Search Services, a division of the California School Boards Association. In the end, not one of those eight superintendent searches ever advanced further than their school districts. Loveall said boards who choose this level of searching already have someone in mind for the position who is employed in house. He said it wasn’t an unusual approach, because most boards want someone already familiar with the workings of the district and the community it serves. last_img

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