Carson City school trustees discuss hiring new superintendent

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The Carson City School Board of Trustees on Tuesday initiated discussions on its hiring process for a new superintendent, the first time the board will open the seat in a non-appointed capacity in nearly 30 years.
The search begins this fall to look for Superintendent Richard Stokes’ replacement as he prepares for retirement next June. President Joe Cacioppo drafted a possible timeline for members to consider that remains fluid for now and was presented as a starting point for the board to determine its course of action.
Vice President Richard Varner, leading the workshop in Cacioppo’s absence Tuesday, said the roundtable discussion was to help the trustees decide whether to keep the search internal or to broaden it.
Board members directed questions to Jose Delfin, associate superintendent of human resources, about how other school districts have held similar searches, the appropriate methods and timeline for advertisement, the use of a third-party consultant to avoid potential biases from the district’s own department and identifying characteristics for qualified candidates based on staff and community feedback.
“There are so many different ways to hire a superintendent, I don’t think there’s one mold, if you will,” Delfin said. “It just needs to be the right process for us and for looking for the next superintendent and what your vision is along with that new person to come and to have the right mesh and the right fit … for these times.”
He added the position itself nationally is not highly sought after given its increasing and complex demands.
“I can tell you there are a lot of superintendents who are leaving because of these times,” he said. “They’re done. … We’re facing intriguing times where people are not wanting it. They’re going, ‘Oh, my gosh, what are we in for?’”
The board said any potential applicants should take into account not just the job’s daily requirements but factors such as their desire to live in Carson City, the housing market and affordability and demonstrate a commitment to the district’s strategic plan, mission and vision.
Delfin pointed out this will be the first time in approximately 30 years the Carson City school board is seeking to hire for the position. According to district records, previous superintendents had been appointed by the board, including Stokes’ predecessor Mary Pierczynski, appointed in July 2001, preceded by Jim Parry, who was appointed in 1997 and resigned in 2001.
Stokes has been in the position since 2008, also appointed.
Trustee Lupe Ramirez asked if there would be any reluctance to opening the search statewide, and Trustee Laurel Crossman said she didn’t think there is, although she thought it ought to begin within the district first.
“The interesting thing nationwide is the tenure of superintendents has decreased dramatically in the last few years,” Crossman said. “Not many people have stayed at the job as long as Mr. Stokes has.”
The board also asked about receiving public feedback on the qualities desired for the next superintendent, which was recommended to begin toward the end of September. Delfin said results likely are to vary between staff and community members, and Trustee Stacie Wilke-McCulloch also suggested asking about the ideal school district culture.
“What is the ideal school district? It looks different up here than it does down there, and I think it’s important to get the right fit,” she said.
The workshop was for discussion only.


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