Wanted: leader for GHS

District outlines search process, quick timeline; 7 applications
already in
Gilroy – The school district is racing to find a new high school principal following the resignation of Bob Bravo. School officials are looking to fill the position by as early as the first week in August, but face an uphill battle due to a lack of time and availability of candidates.

“We are using all of our wooing power, all of our networks,” said Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Linda Piceno.

A job listing for the position was posted Friday morning on Ed–join.org and in the EdCal Newsletter for the Association of California Administrators, Piceno said.

Bravo resigned Thursday to take on an administrative position in the Antioch Unified School District office.

Most administrators start looking in April or May, by the time June or July comes they’ve made plans to stay where they are, Piceno explained.

The process of finding his replacement includes two paper screenings by the human resources department and two meetings with a panel of GHS teachers, students, parents, staff and district officials, before the decision goes on to the executive committee comprised of the GUSD superintendents.

An “ideal” panel will consist of about 15 to 17 individuals, Piceno said.

“It’s going to be dicey,” she said. “It’s going to be a challenge for us to get a complete panel (because of the timing over the summer.) … Frankly, it’s going to be who is available.”

As of Tuesday morning, GUSD had received seven applications for the GHS opening three of which recruiter Gene Sakahara examined.

According to Piceno, Sakahara was impressed by the candidates thus far, and that If the rest of the applicants were as strong, the pool would be rich to choose from.

None of the applications received were from inside the district.

“Typically, I would expect at least two dozen (applicants),” Piceno said.

Fewer may come in due to the short notice, said Piceno, who is hoping to receive 30 to 40 resumes.

Two paper screenings, one by Sakahara and the next by Linda Piceno, will weed out the strongest applicants to a field of about four to eight candidates.

In the past, only one parent is involved in the process. But for this selection, the district is upping parental involvement to five from the various GHS parent groups.

GHS parent and Parent Club officer Diane Baty sat on a panel three years ago for the selection of GHS vice–principal Mani Corzo.

“I felt very equal and valued in the process,” she said.

Baty feels parents bring in a different and important perspective than district and GHS officials.

They are determining whether the candidate might be eager and willing to communicate with parents, she explained.

“(Selecting the GHS principal) is a huge deal because that sets the tone of our schools,” she said. “It would be nice to see someone from inside the community rather than out … Someone that can carry out what’s being done – I think we’re going in the right direction.”

Another change in the selection process is the use of a GUSD board member, Piceno explained. She could not recall that ever happening before when selecting a principal.

GUSD board president T.J. Owens expressed interest in serving on the panel, but was uncertain how the member would be selected.

“There’s not a lot of time – we’ve got to decide how to handle it,” he said.

Owens would personally like to see someone that would continue GHS’ path to improvement. Board member Rhoda Bress also has her eye on the slot.

“I feel I have something to offer to this process,” she said. “I can offer the perspective of a board member and a high school parent.”

Bress has served as a parent on several panels in the past.

Students typically in leadership positions such as Associated Student Body officers will be invited to attend, but their participation will be limited to one slot.

Piceno estimates two teachers, one community official, one GHS classified staff member, one GUSD board member, at least one site administrator from GHS and employees from within the district office will round out the panel.

The four to eight prospective principals undergo both an interview and a simulated response to a scenario with the panel. After evaluating the candidates, the panel decides whether they should be removed from the selection process or go on to meet with the executive committee, further whittling the number down to three.

According to Piceno, the advertisement will remain on Ed–join.org for two to three weeks before being pulled.

She is shooting for paper screening the week of July 11, and a meeting with the panel community members the week of July 18.

“Everyone tells me I’m being very optimistic on that,” she said.

Piceno is looking for candidates with a strong curriculum background and with excellent communication skills, she said.

“The high school is always in a fish bowl. This person needs to build relationships with all of its constituents – that’s a big one,” she explained. “Someone with a high energy level who is interested in spending 185 nights a year out.”

The search is on

The “ideal” procedure for finding a new Gilroy High School principal:

• By the week of July 11, the Gilroy Unified School District Human Resources department hopes to conduct a paper screening process, where candidates are examined for their experience. Between four and eight candidates will move on to the next round.

• By the week of July 18, a panel of about 15 to 17 individuals consisting of 5 Gilroy High School parents, about 2 GHS administrators, 2 teachers, 1 student, 1 GUSD board member and several district office employees are expected to meet with the candidates for an interview and simulated response session. The panel reduces the number of potential principals to three.

• The executive committee consisting of all GUSD superintendents decides between the three candidates.

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