Teachers ask for delay in search for SBHSD superintendent

The San Benito High School Board of Trustees is in the process
of hiring a new superintendent, much to the chagrin of teachers at
the high school.
Although two new members were elected to the San Benito High School Board of Trustees and will begin their terms in January, the current Board is in the process of hiring a new superintendent – much to the chagrin of teachers at the high school.

Trustees, which hired recruiting firm Leadership Association to help find qualified candidates for the superintendent post, interviewed 11 candidates Wednesday and is expected to make a selection soon.

“We have a lot of fantastic candidates,” said Trustee Judy Rider, who was elected to her fourth term Tuesday. “These people are exceptional applicants.”

The pool of candidates includes Hispanics and African Americans with a mix of males and females from around the state.

The district superintendent helps the school board establish and implement policies for San Benito High School.

The San Benito County chapter of the California Teachers Association sent a letter to the Board requesting trustees delay their search for a new superintendent, since Jan Joseph and Bill Tiffany, who won seats on the board in Tuesday’s election, will work directly with the new superintendent for the next four years.

“I feel that the people that work with the new superintendent should be the ones that choose the new superintendent,” said Clete Bradford, president of the local CTA chapter. “I think the recent election states we wanted a change. I want the school board members who are leaving in December to postpone (the superintendent search) until the new ones come in.”

“I think we’re doing the right thing. Whether they (the teachers union) think so or not, I don’t know,” Rider said. “The new people on the board don’t know what the superintendent should be doing because they haven’t worked with them yet. Bill Tiffany has a lot of experience (on the Southside School District board) but hasn’t worked with a high school superintendent.”

The teachers association also expressed concerns that the board’s decision to replace San Benito High School District Superintendent Dick Lowry this month will not attract the most qualified candidate. The association wants the school district to hire a temporary superintendent to attract the most qualified pool of candidates in the summer, when a superintendent’s term typically ends. Bradford feels any decision to hire a new superintendent before then would diminish the number of qualified candidates.

“The board’s just kind of keeping us out of the decision-making process,” Bradford said in a previous interview. “We should have input on who’s the new superintendent. We also question why they’re hiring mid-year.”

With Lowry retiring in February, the board hopes that hiring a new superintendent this month would enable him or her to start in January.

Sylvia Sims DeLay, whose campaign failed for a second term on the school board, said she is excited about the selection process and that a new board member might not be as qualified.

“If I was in their shoes, which I was at one time, I don’t think I’d be qualified in the interview process,” she said. “The reason I say that is unless you’re a board member, you don’t know what your role is and you need experience working with the school and being on the board to understand what the school’s needs are. You can guess what they are, but until you’ve worked there and fully understand what the needs are, how can you make that decision?”

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