Search underway for new Yosemite superintendent

The search is underway for a new superintendent in Yosemite Unified School District, which includes Yosemite High School.
The search is underway for a new superintendent in Yosemite Unified School District, which includes Yosemite High School. Sierra Star

The bar is set high, but if you have a strong work ethic, are creative and innovative, can lead with integrity and honesty, and have the courage to deal with difficult issues while maintaining a sense of humor, then the Yosemite Unified School District has a job for you - Superintendent.

Additional job requirements include a master’s degree and administrative credential, the ability to manage finances, understand collective bargaining, knowing how to find new funding sources and form community partnerships, an interest in maintaining and developing the performing arts, and a commitment to academic excellence.

Christine Wilder, president of the YUSD board of trustees, called the selection of a new superintendent the biggest and most important job a school board has to do.

“This is a very serious process and we take the responsibility of this selection very seriously,” Wilder said.

The district is being assisted by Dave Long & Associates Executive Search Services of Laguna Beach with the daunting task of selecting the person that is the perfect fit for the district. . The firm, hired by the district, is committed to helping find a superintendent with the necessary blend of knowledge, expertise and commitment to lead the district with heart and passion.

The consultants have more than two decades of combined experience in conducting executive searches and more than 70 years of service as district superintendents of schools.

Wilder called the hiring process open and transparent.

“We wanted everyone in the community to have the opportunity to have input and we did that,” Wilder said. “Mike Crass (with Executive Search Services) spent a few days in the community to determine what characteristics people desired in the next district leader. He met with community business leaders, students, parents of students, teachers and other district staff members.”

Crass, 71 of Merced and a district superintendent himself for nearly 20 years, said it’s a “big deal” to select the right person for the district and the community.

“Not all districts are the same,” Crass said. “We are looking for the best person that has the right background and educational philosophy to best meet the needs of this district and the community. Our superintendent search team works closely with the board of trustees to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be involved in establishing the criteria for the next superintendent.”

The deadline for applications is March 20. Crass and his team will evaluate all the submitted applications and after a screening process, including employment history and background checks, a list of candidates will be provided to district trustees. Some of those candidates will be selected for interviews with trustees on April 20 and 21, and the district hopes to have a selection made and a signed contract with the new superintendent by the end of May.

The district, composed of Yosemite High School, Coarsegold Elementary, Rivergold Elementary and two community day schools, Meadowbrook (grades 5-8) and Campbell (9-12), serves 1,670 students.

The ethnic makeup of the district’s population is: 73% white, 15% Hispanic, 2.8% Native American, 1% African American, and 8% other. Half of the students are eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

Wilder explained that like most school districts, YUSD has budget issues to deal with and a need to grow Average Daily Attendance (ADA) by retaining and attracting new students to the district.

Leonard Kahn has been serving as interim superintendent since James Sargent resigned in September to take a position with the Madera County Office of Education. Kahn previously served as the district’s assistant superintendent. At the time of resignation, Sargent was being paid $159,000 annually.

“This is a great district and we are all excited and confident we will make the right decision to help move the district forward,” Wilder concluded.