Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) needs a new superintendent, but the process of finding one will take some time.
SCUSD School Board President Jodi Muirhead told The Weekly the Board of Trustees needs to discuss how it would like to proceed and that likely won’t happen until October.
“At that time, the board will talk about what we would like the process to be and give direction to the staff to start the process,” said Muirhead.
Since the Board has not officially met to discuss the hiring, Muirhead was not able to offer much insight into the hiring process. She did, however, say that any decision on specific qualities desired in the District’s next superintendent would likely be based on community input.
Muirhead says comparing the next superintendent to their predecessor would be unfair.
“As for how they compare to Dr. [Stella M.] Kemp, I don’t think it is relevant to the discussion to compare the next person to the previous person,” said Muirhead. “We will be looking with fresh eyes at what we believe will be best for the school district going forward.”
The process of hiring a new superintendent is expected to be lengthy. During the last search, SCUSD had to put out a request for proposals from search firms. Once the search firm was identified, the firm was tasked with talking to staff and community members about what they wanted in their superintendent.
It was only after that outreach that the field of candidates was narrowed down and the interview process began. The entire process took about five months.
This search for a new superintendent feels much different than the last one in part because of how quickly it started.
In late June, Dr. Stella M. Kemp submitted a letter to the Board of Trustees announcing her resignation effective July 1. The Board of Trustees had just days to call an emergency meeting to accept the letter and start the process of searching for an interim superintendent.
They moved quickly and hired Dr. Gary Waddell as interim superintendent on July 11.
So far, Dr. Waddell has not said if he intends to apply for the permanent position.
In contrast, when Dr. Kemp was hired in 2019, the District had plenty of time to plan. Long-time superintendent Dr. Stan Rose was transparent with his plans to retire at the end of the 2018-19 school year, allowing the District to start the process while Dr. Rose was still with the District. In that instance, an interim superintendent was not necessary.
The next school board meeting is Sept. 8. If Muirhead is correct and the Board does not talk about the issue until October, then the first discussion could happen as soon as Oct. 13.