January 23, 2023: The Clovis Unified School Board called a special governing board meeting in order to discuss how they will move forward in the search for a new Superintendent of schools.
This comes of course after the news that current Superintendent Dr. Eimear O’Brien will retire at the end of the school year.
Within the first ten minutes of the meeting, the school board easily decided on the creation of a separate work group that would allow less of the majority to discuss and facilitate ideas outside of school board meetings.
School board President David DeFrank, Vice-President Hugh Awtrey and Board member Tiffany Stoker-Madsen will serve as members on this committee.
A few ideas were then discussed at length in contention as board members could not get on the same page.
One item of dispute consisted of discussion on setting a certain deadline for choosing the candidate of Superintendent.
A soft deadline, meaning that the deadline could change, was set for March 19th, but this was called “too short” of a deadline by both newly elected school board members, Clint Olivier and Deena Combs-Flores.
Other board members were in agreement that time spent on the other side of the March 19th deadline will be all important as the new Superintendent will have to learn specificities of the job such as the hiring of new principals.
Still, it was argued that this soft deadline would not be enough time for the newly formed workgroup and school board in general to properly select a new Superintendent.
Dr. O’Brien commented on this matter, estimating that her own previous application process lasted a length of around eight weeks.
Another argument that divided school board members was that of the workgroup itself and how it will properly identify and communicate with the public.
Board Member Clint Olivier, much interested in the community feedback portion, recognized that the Superintendent is not only the leader of the school district but also acts as a public figure in the community.
He then asked what influences Dr. O’Brien’s current staff would have on the hiring process and whether or not the workgroup would consider an outside consulting firm to assist on the search.
President David DeFrank listed his thoughts by saying that the school board would try to look at past selection processes and use these procedures in following up on the current selection process.
DeFrank then mentioned the value and importance of parent and community input in this situation.
Whether or not the school board will select a new Superintendent by their eight week deadline is up to speculation as the plan currently rests on furthering this discussion in the form of the previously mentioned workgroup.
There also seems to be a higher probability of future community discussions, in which the school board hopes for and expects community input on who they would like to represent CUSD as Superintendent.
This of course will be in addition to the school boards’ obligation of deciphering through a long list of potential candidates, and eventually being placed with the responsibility of making a choice when all is said and done.