Superintendent search in Colusa moves to next phase

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Colusa Unified School District officials have narrowed their search for the next superintendent of schools. 

The Colusa Unified School District Board of Trustees launched a nationwide search last October, and at a special closed meeting on Jan. 7, the school board selected the candidates they felt would be the best fit. 

“Based on the applications received, reference checks, and the expertise of the recruiting firm we retained, we’ve selected five fantastic candidates to interview on Jan. 24,” said School Board President Melissa Yerxa Ortiz. “A broad range of experience is represented by the candidates and we’re looking forward to meeting them.”

Colusa Unified contracted with Leadership Associates to help find a successor for Dwayne Newman, who resigned after seven years with the district to oversee Orland schools.

Ortiz said the board’s first criteria is finding someone who really understands what it takes to make a community like Colusa work, so it will ensure that the district has more than just a business manager. 

“We’re planning to recruit a new, fully engaged community member,” she said. 

While the school board had already asked for staff and community input in the search, they still requested Interim Superintendent Bill Cornelius put together a panel to interview the candidates separately and provide the board with a rating or ranking. 

Those interviews will be conducted at the same Jan. 24 special meeting by simply rotating the candidates, Cornelius said. 

The panel of no more than 10 people will be largely comprised of Colusa Unified principals, staff, community members, along with one Colusa High School student. 

The interviews will be closed and members of the panel will have to agree to keep this step in the recruitment process confidential, officials said. 

The school board hopes to have a new superintendent at the helm before the end of the 2019-2020 school year.  

“As for timing, in a perfect world, the top candidate will accept our offer and start in February,” Ortiz said. “Contracts and commitments being what they are, we may be forced to wait until June to bring someone aboard. We won’t settle for a lower quality candidate that can start sooner, and we won’t settle for one of the five candidates if we don’t find the perfect fit.”