Search underway for new Colusa School District chief 

Colusa Unified has kicked off a formal search for a new superintendent of schools. 

The Board of Trustees met last week to outline the process and aim to have a new chief in place by July 1 or sooner. 

The board said they plan to be exhaustive in their effort to secure someone who will be the right fit for the school district and in the community, and they want to be transparent in the process.

Input from school administrators, teachers, staff, parents, and the community at large will be encouraged, officials said at their Sept. 23 regular meeting.

Colusa Unified has contracted with Leadership Associates, a Santa Barbara-based executive services search firm, to help them find a successor for Dwayne Newman, who resigned in June to oversee the schools in Orland.

“We take our work very seriously,” said Tom Changnon, a member of the consulting team. “Hiring the superintendent is the most important job the board will have.” 

Board members said that while they cannot require the new superintendent to live in Colusa, they hope their candidate will. The board is also looking for someone that is honest, trustworthy, professional, fair, a good listener and a strong communicator, has experience with small districts, is data driven, and is someone who will not shy away from tough conversations. 

“A Spanish speaker would be pretty fantastic,” said Board President, Melissa Yerxa Ortiz. 

The consulting team plans to hold public meetings in the coming weeks to get input on what skills and character traits the community thinks the new superintendent should have. The district also has an online survey where members of the public can weigh in. 

“Anyone who wants to have input will have the opportunity to provide input,” Changnon said. 

The school board will close the application period on Dec. 2, but the consultant expects to have a working list of potential candidates and some background checks on early applicants completed before then.  

The school board anticipates meeting with Changnon in January to select the “top tier” of potential candidates to formally interview, and expects to approve the new superintendent’s contract at their regular meeting in February. 

Meanwhile, retired Sutter County Superintendent of Schools, Bill Cornelius, is working at the helm of Colusa Unified until the new, permanent administrator is hired. Cornelius served as Princeton’s interim chief in 2018 during the district’s search for their permanent superintendent.