According to the search firm carrying the weight to find the San Dieguito Union High School District’s next superintendent, over 40 candidates had applied before the Aug. 10 deadline. Now the two search firm representatives will begin a recruitment process as well as vet the candidates, armed with a leadership profile developed through input from parents, teachers, staff and students.
Dave Cash and Rudy Castruita, former superintendents with the search firm of Hazard, Attea and Associates (HYA), presented their profile to the board at a special meeting on Aug. 9. The profile included district strengths, challenges and the ideal characteristics of the next superintendent gathered from three public outreach sessions and an online survey with 241 respondents.
Cash and Castruita said they had heard consistent themes from all stakeholders on the district’s strengths: academic excellence, outstanding teachers, improving facilities, actively involved parents and a community that supports education.
District finances were ranked as the biggest challenge as San Dieguito faces a $8.4 million deficit for the 2017-18 year and is projecting to deficit spend by $3.7 million in 2018-19.The district’s deficit spending resonated big time, Cash said, noting people are looking for a strong fiscal leader that will “right the ship” and “stop the bleeding.”
Guided by the public input, HYA will be looking for a candidate who is strong in governance with teaching and administrative experience. Comments received showed stakeholders are looking for someone who is a good communicator, who can be a mentor to teachers and administrators in the district and someone who can engage with the community, attending a Friday night football game or having a presence in the classroom.
“Something that came up over and over is someone who people can trust,” Cash said. “That seems to have been a missing dynamic in this district.”
The board anticipates beginning to interview top candidates in September and appoint a new superintendent in October.