By HEATHER CATHLEEN COX
The San Benito Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees selected a firm at a special meeting on Tuesday to search for a new superintendent.
Trustees hired Austin-based Waterford and Associates via a 4-3 split vote. Opposing the motion for Waterford were trustees Yliana González, Hector Leal and Fatima Huerta while fellow board members Angel Mendes, Oscar Medrano and Anna Cruz voted for Waterford. The tie was broken by Board President Arnold Padilla, who voted for Waterford.
In their winning bid of $12,750, Waterford stated they will find the new superintendent no later than December. The firm not selected, George McShan of Harlingen, would comparatively have selected the new superintendent by Oct. 1.
According to Padilla, there is presently “room for negotiation” of some details contained within the $12,750 proposal. “If we (Trustees) decide to remove their proposal for a national search, the fee would be reduced by $500. That is a consideration the board can still undertake.”
Padilla added, “I feel that the board is comfortable doing a national search. Discussions were held on that aspect, that there may be other qualified candidates out there. Affording the opportunity for a national search may give us an advantage to find someone with qualifications to be superintendents in Texas.” If the national search is vetoed, the open position will only be made available for residents of Texas.
Presently, the Board estimates that this search will be “a lengthy procedure.” Padilla stated he has faith that Waterford will be quick in selecting qualified candidates based on the firm’s experience working with other school districts. He said, “The (given) timeline has generally been their accomplishment period.”
Before Waterford begins the official search for a new superintendent, trustees are taking their time to determine very specific credential requirements. This process will include a personal conversation between each individual trustee and Waterford representatives, in order to discuss itemized qualifications.
The Board is also planning to conduct open discussions among SBCISD senior staff and district administrators (including principals and teachers), in an effort to gain additional insight in the board’s quest to identify desirable qualifications of a superintendent.
Furthermore, Padilla said, “This (process) will entertain an opportunity to reach out to the community as a whole, via a survey system placed on our website to allow the public to (express) what they need (in a superintendent).”
Finally, Waterford will reach out to San Benito’s municipal leaders and city administration, in order to get their input.
“Collectively,” said Padilla, “this is a global opportunity for everyone in our community – the public as a whole—to have input (with regards to) what we will develop into the criteria that we are searching for, to help narrow down the qualifications we are looking for.”
Padilla said such qualifications up for discussion include: Would the public prefer that the district hire someone strong in business, curriculum or public relations, and would the public prefer the candidate have a doctorate degree, etc.?
Developing this very specific search criterion will be the first step to beginning the hunt, and according to Padilla, it may take several weeks.
Of the Board’s next step, Padilla said, “The firm will (then) compare applications to criterion. After that, they will narrow down applicants, and we will start to move forward.” As of press time, the Board remains in its preliminary stages of consideration and has not decided how many ‘top’ candidates trustees would like to review.
Also up for negotiation is the new superintendent’s potential salary. “Budget has not been discussed,” said Padilla. “I know that (the Board) probably will look at the medium or average pay for someone of the qualifications that the individual may have, and we will probably look at comparisons to other districts of our size and budget… then use those (statistics) as a guide to make the right decision, as to what is able to be paid.”
Essentially, Padilla expressed that the credentials of the accepted candidate will merit her or his pay scale.
Until a final selection is made, Superintendent of Schools Antonio G. Limón will remain in charge. “Limón has agreed to continue as superintendent up until the point the district hires a new one. At that time, Mr. Limón will be reassigned,” Padilla said.
Although December is a preliminary estimate on when San Benitians might expect to meet their new Superintendent of Schools, Padilla expressed that the December deadline is only a ‘best estimate.’