Tuesday, August 14 , 2018, 1:47 pm | Partly Cloudy 74º


Santa Barbara School Board Selects Out-of-State Firm in Search for New Superintendent

Ray and Associates Inc. of Iowa tops a field of four finalists to direct the effort to replace retiring Superintendent Brian Sarvis

The search for a new superintendent for the Santa Barbara School District will be handled by Ray and Associates Inc., an out-of-state executive search firm.

The school board voted 3-1 Tuesday night to hire the Iowa company. There were concerns expressed about its lack of experience with California school districts, but those were overcome by the strength of the rest of the proposal.

Getting input from the public through forums, surveys and interviews will be a top priority for the board, and Ray and Associates’ two-year guarantee, bilingual team members and the promise to spend as much time in the district as needed won over most of the members.

Kate Parker cast the dissenting vote, as she pushed for Leadership Associates to be hired instead, and Susan Deacon was absent.

The process will consist of meeting with the board, district staff, teachers, union leaders, community members and other stakeholders to form a leadership profile the firm can use to screen candidates. Advertising and active recruiting nationwide hopefully will yield a strong pool to choose from, and the board then will conduct interviews to narrow it down to a final choice.

Superintendent Brian Sarvis, who is retiring in June, had a salary of $204,000 as of February 2010, and part of the search firm’s mission is to advise the district about compensation and contract matters.

Ray and Associates’ estimated charge for the search is $27,275, the lowest of the four by about $1,300.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the board heard presentations from their top four choices for search firms.

Leadership Associates was the runner-up, but concern over the company’s flat-out refusal to hold public forums with the candidates was a deal-breaker for some board members. Also, former district Superintendent Michael Caston, who resigned in 2000, is now an associate with the firm, which fostered concerns about flak from the community. Representatives did say that Caston wouldn’t be involved at all if the board wanted it that way.

“I worry that it could carry over into the acceptance or nonacceptance of our candidate,” board president Annette Cordero said.

The other two firms, Dave Long & Associates and Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, were dismissed because board members weren’t impressed by the proposals and thought their track records raised some questions.

Dave Long & Associates has been around for only two years, though its individual members have decades of experience among them, and it didn’t submit letters of recommendation with its proposal. HYA placed a superintendent in the Oxnard School District who was placed on administrative leave within eight months of getting the job, and the school board chose not to take HYA up on its one-year guarantee to try again.

When asked about it, the company’s representative was “wishy-washy” and didn’t know — or didn’t reveal — what had gone wrong, according to board member Ed Heron.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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