S.P. Unified School District board disagrees on search for school superindendent

February 06, 2013
Santa Paula News

Trustees of the new Santa Paula Unified School District showed their first disagreements at last Thursday’s special board meeting.

The board okayed the contract for a consultant firm, but put off the agreement for the Chief Business Officer as well as the hiring of someone to assist in the search for a superintendent.

The board decided at their January 17 meeting to hire Joel Kirschenstein of the Sage Institute as their consultant to help move along the formation of the new district. Where problems arose was in discussing hiring someone to help in the search for a superintendent.

Ken Prosser, deputy superintendent, Fiscal & Administrative Services for the County Schools Office told the board there are lots of search firms available, and he noted there was also the option of using the County Schools Office for the search.  

Board President Christina Urias noted she had been involved in a superintendent search in the past, using the County Superintendent’s office. She said they did a fine job. Urias made a motion to use the Superintendent of Schools office for the search.  

Chris Wilson seconded the motion, saying they are already behind schedule, but during discussion Michelle Kolbeck said she also had experience with a search firm. She wanted to have presentations from more than one firm before deciding which one to use.

“I just want to remind the board that it is January 31 and this is an important decision,” she said. “The sooner that we can start the process the better.”  

Kolbeck said she really resented the direction things were going. “We as a board said we were going to go out for a search firm.” She added that now they were being asked to hire the County Schools Office without any information, such as how much it would cost. She said she had the impression that things were coming from behind closed doors. “If this were something we were going to vote on, there should have been something in this packet for the public to see,” Kolbeck added. 

Her comments drew a sharp response from Urias. “I resent the comment that it appears things are being done behind closed doors,” she said. “This conversation is taking place in public, in front of all of us and no decisions have been made. A simple motion has been put on the floor, it has been seconded and that’s what we’re here to do. We’re having a discussion in public.”

Urias’ motion failed and it was decided to try and get search firms, including the person from the County Schools Office, to make presentations at the February 7 meeting.

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