Report details what community members want in new Elk Grove district superintendent

Residents, teachers and students in the Elk Grove Unified School District are all looking for the same characteristics in a new superintendent, according to report from McPherson & Jacobson LLC, an executive search firm hired by the district.

They want someone who is collaborative, culturally competent, approachable, has integrity and strong communication skills and is visible at schools. They also want someone who can lobby for legislation, policy and resources at the state and federal level, according to the report.

The area’s largest school district is replacing Superintendent Steven Ladd, who is retiring Sept. 12. The 62,000-student district agreed to pay $29,000 to McPherson & Jacobson LLC to conduct the search.

The report, compiled from more than 20 meetings with community members and stakeholders, was distributed to board members and others at a school board workshop Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s a good process – to get a feel for the community, employees and students,” said board President Priscilla Cox.

The report also says that stakeholders are in sync about issues at the district that they would like a new superintendent to know about. They list the achievement gap at the top of their list of concerns, as well as institutional racism and equity in the distribution of resources between schools.

They want the new superintendent to know that there is a split on the school board that makes it difficult for staff to work with trustees and that there is a need to re-establish trust between the administration and staff, according to the report.

The report will be used to help select a superintendent and will be distributed to the candidates so they can understand the community’s needs, said Bob Ferguson, a consultant for McPherson and Jacobson LLC. The new superintendent also will receive a copy as a guide to taking the helm of the district.

The process is very effective, said William Huyett, a consultant for McPherson and Jacobson. By the third or fourth meeting, common themes began to emerge.

“It’s a healthy thing to talk to your stakeholders and to find out what the issues are,” Huyett said.

The school board adjourned to a closed session with the expectation that it would identify finalists for interviews that will begin Friday.

The board is scheduled to meet with two candidates a day, with breakfast and lunch meetings scheduled for Valley Hi Country Club on Friday and Saturday. Only a few board members can meet with candidates at a time avoid open-meeting law violations.

The entire board will conduct formal interviews of candidates in closed sessions. Interviews could continue Monday if the board selects more than four finalists. Representatives of employee, district and community organizations have also been selected to participate in the interviews.

The school board is expected to make a decision by the end of September. Tuesday night, the board announced that Mark Cerutti, associate superintendent of Education Services, will serve as the interim superintendent until a new district leader is installed.