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July 5, 2020
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Superintendent search begins

By: Lanny Lowery
April 12, 2019

Shortly after the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District hired the Cosca Group to conduct a superintendent search, consultants Dave Brown and Steve Goldstone presented data to the school board that would lead to producing a brochure to attract desired candidates for the selection of the school district leader.  The data was compiled in two documents totaling eighty plus pages.

On Tues., Mar. 26, a special board meeting convened to review the documents.  Trustees spent nearly three hours combining different school and community polls’ desired leadership qualities and characteristics.

Exactly one month before, on Feb. 26, the school board approved a contract with The Cosca Group to conduct a search process.  One week later, the board approved the process and schedule for the search.  “The schedule included a week of meetings with groups and individuals identified by the board to receive input on the strengths of the district, the critical needs and issues facing the district, as well as the qualities and characteristics desired in the new superintendent.”

Groups and individuals’ representative of the district and the community met with the consultants 31 times.  The consultants held an open forum and posted an online survey on the district website in an effort to gather data from the stakeholders.

The Mar. 26 task not only involved reviewing the data but also developing a profile or criteria for the superintendent position.  The consultants combined the data into three lists, each containing over twenty items:   “Greatest Strengths of the District, “  “Needs/Critical Issues,” and “Characteristics Desired in New Superintendent.”  As the Board examined each list, members individually prioritized and the group reduced or combined the most important needs.

Then the consultants announced that they would construct a hiring brochure from all of this input.  By the end of the week, the trustees had reviewed two drafts of the brochure, and six days later the consultants presented the final draft of the brochure.

The brochure spells out exactly what qualities and characteristics the stakeholders seek in the new superintendent.  The recent leadership experience was perceived by many as having poor communication, a failure of transparency, and policies that lacked inclusion of all of the educational community.  The brochure’s opening statement sets the tone for the desired new leadership:

“The Board of Trustees of the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District seeks a long-term relationship with a collegial leader who can build on the District’s strengths through the development of an effective governance team as its Superintendent of Schools.”

The brochure goes on to describe the school district, its strengths and needs.  Then it outlines the hiring process.  Applicants must submit the application form, the personal letter of application, their resumes, and University Placement Files to the Cosca Group by April 26, 2019.  “The successful candidate will be offered a multi-year contract with a competitive and negotiable salary based on qualifications and experience.”

This hiring process, laborious and methodical, reflects the work ethic and determination of this new school board that has already put in many hundreds of hours since Dec. in bringing transparency, inclusion and clear communication to the district.  And the work has just begun.  After Cosca receives the applications, the board will spend the next several weeks’ paper screening, interviewing and visiting districts of prospective candidates.  The goal is to have the best candidate hired and seated by July 1, 2019.