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No Decision on Superintendent After Five-Hour School Board Meeting

The board will continue deliberations on March 12.

After a five-hour meeting Thursday night in which the school board interviewed two candidates for the position of superintendent, the board closed the meeting without filling the job.

“We have no action to report,” said Maurice Goodman, board president. “We’ll be reconvening at 1:30pm on March 12 at the district office to further deliberate.”

Most of the meeting, including candidate interviews and board deliberations, took place behind closed doors. The board interviewed Acting Superintendent Adolfo Melara and former South San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent George Kozitza.

The position of superintendent has been vacant since December, when former Superintendent Howard Cohen for undisclosed reasons. Adolfo Melara, previously the associate superintendent, has been serving as acting superintendent since then.

Before entering its closed session, the board heard public comment from among the roughly 25 parents, teachers and administrators in the standing-room only meeting room. The speakers expressed concern with the board’s decision to not to undertake a wider search process.

“Every single person started with the words, ‘Why are we rushing into this?’” said Laurie Dolly, a district speech therapist who spoke at the meeting.

The district chose to interview familiar candidates for financial considerations, according to Goodman. Hiring a search firm would cost the district between $17,000 and $25,000, Goodman said.

“We can understand the district’s sense of urgency with the bond measure going forward,” said Jan Speller, president of the South San Francisco Classroom Teachers Association. “If you were to take a poll of teachers and site leaders, I think they would say they don’t want them to rush this decision. It’s a pretty big decision.”

Some were also concerned that Adolfo Melara was being considered for the job after a short tenure with the district. He came on as associate superintendent in the fall of 2009.

“We don’t have a relationship with our district administrators,” Speller said, referring to the fact that many of the administrators are relatively new. “It’s going to take time to reestablish those relationships and build trust.”

Board members had , so it was a surprise that the board postponed the decision. Going forward, it’s possible that the board will select one of the two candidates for the job or decide to undertake a wider search process.

The board will reconvene to deliberate on its choice for a new superintendent on March 12 at 1:30pm in the district office.

Anonymous March 06, 2011 at 04:12 PM
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Tess March 08, 2011 at 02:46 AM
It's a good thing the board did not make a decision. More time and a wider selection of qualified candidates is needed before a decision on this important matter is made. Mr. Melara was hired by Mr. Cohen to do a specific job and that is what he is qualified for. Mr. Kozitza is a much more qualified candidate but he doesn't seem to have the backing of the board, as noted by various comments made by board members (“I would very much like to retain him if he were not selected, which is a big if,” Weise said). The prudent thing to do would be to spend the money needed to find the best qualified person so the board does not find itself in the same position next year - replacing yet another superintendent.

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