Saugus District begins search for new superintendent

Saugus Union School District office. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Saugus Union School District is expected to begin its search for its new superintendent Tuesday following the retirement announcement of current Superintendent Joan Lucid.

Last week Lucid—the longest-serving superintendent in the Santa Clarita Valley—announced she would end her 37-year career with the Saugus district at the end of the school year.

This marks the first time in seven years the largest elementary school district in the SCV will look for a new superintendent.

“The first two parts of the process are selecting a search consultant and revising the job description,” SUSD Governing Board President Christopher Trunkey said.  “Both of those items are on the agenda.”


During Tuesday’s Governing Board meeting, three consulting firms—Leadership Associates, McPherson & Jacobson and The Cosca Group—are expected to make presentations to the board regarding their superintendent search approaches.

“I expect at the following board meeting [in February] we will select one of the firms and approve that contract based on the presentations they give tomorrow night,” Trunkey said.

Trunkey said he believed the Saugus district may have used superintendent search firms in the past when hiring Lucid and her predecessor Judy Fish, but, if they did, he was not sure what firms the board at that time used.

During its meeting, the board is expected to hear from Leadership Associates, a California executive search firm that completed 365 searches for school boards including the Newhall School District and the Castaic School District.

The firm’s mission is to support each district’s unique culture and to find a leader that best matches the needs of each school district.

As a consultant, Leadership Associates works in nine phases from its initial meeting with the board to a new superintendent signing paperwork.  Its process is expected to begin in mid-January before accepting applications until March 5 and presenting a final contract in mid-late April, according to the agenda item.

Overall, Leadership Associates’ all-inclusive fee is $23,500.

The board is also expected to hear from consulting firm McPherson & Jacobson, the California School Boards Association’s representative that has placed more than 675 superintendents and public officials throughout the country.

McPherson & Jacobson aims to make its work “about the kids” and believes that quality education is dependent on leadership.  The firm said it prides itself on completing its searches with the most transparency as possible by actively communicating with the board and the district community.

Using a five-phase protocol, the consulting firm works with the district to find a replacement and continues to support the district and new hire for an additional year.

McPherson & Jacobson’s initial cost is $17,000, and has additional costs for advertisement, telephone charges, travel expenses and meeting attendance.

The Governing Board is also expected to hear from The Cosca Group, which completed more than 100 superintendent searches including one for the Sulphur Springs Union School District.

The Cosca Group has about 30 partners that represent educational leaders from 1,500 districts and uses an statewide and national recruitment base to fill positions.

As a consultant, The Cosca Group works in five phases with workshops an on-going mentoring for an additional year in its final phase.  It also includes an optional sixth phase for additional superintendent support that includes goal setting, evaluations, board relations and role functions.

Its process, which can be modified with the needs and preferences of the board, is expected to begin in late-January before accepting applications until March 30 and appointing a new superintendent May 15.

Overall, The Cosca Group’s all-inclusive fee is $27,744.

Superintendent Job Description

For the first time since February 1990, the Governing Board is expected to update the job description for its superintendent position.

“There is a newer job description that has a number of changes and edits from the current version,” Trunkey said.  “I expect will be the subject of the discussion tomorrow night, there will be some significant changes tomorrow night.”

The superintendent is directly responsible to the district’s Governing Board, serves “as the chief operating officer of the Saugus Union School District and is responsible for the overall academic and operational performance of the district,” according to the new job description.

This updated job description also includes additional examples of the superintendent’s duties, like overseeing the day-to-day operations of the district and selecting and leading district staff.

It also includes applicant qualifications and adds that an applicant must have a Master’s Degree in Education and a minimum of five years of senior school district experience in a California school district with at least 5,000 students.

The updated job description also requires applications to have a knowledge of district and school operations and management, Special Education programs, Bilingual Education programs, supervision and evaluation strategies and techniques, and effective communications strategies and techniques.

It also asks that applicants have the ability to plan and administer district programs, develop, monitor and maintain an effective community relations program, establish and maintain effective working relationships with the staff and the public, communicate effectively and plan, organize and supervise the work of others.

However, all of these descriptions and specifications are up for discussion, review and revision during the Governing Board meeting Tuesday.

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