Saugus board to update superintendent job description

Saugus Union School District office. Dan Watson/The Signal

For the first time since February 1990, the Saugus Union School District is expected to overhaul the job description for its superintendent position.

These changes reflect the “district’s current needs” and would require an applicant to hold a master’s degree in education and have at least five years of experience working in a senior position in a California school district with at least 5,000 students.

Responsibilities of the role now also include overseeing the administration of the district’s budget, working cooperatively with the board, providing educational leadership to the Saugus community and understanding special education and bilingual education programs.

The additions and changes to the job description come about one month after Saugus Superintendent Joan Lucid announced her retirement in early January.

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

To select a capable candidate for the superintendent spot, the Saugus Governing Board is expected to review and approve of the position’s updated job description during its meeting Tuesday.

“The superintendent job description hasn’t been updated since 1997, 20 years.  That fact alone results in some of the changes to conform with our current standards for job descriptions,” Board President Christopher Trunkey said. “But I also think the board would like the opportunity to add some specificity to what is a more general description.”

The changes include specific examples of the superintendent’s duty in the district, additional qualifications for candidates and descriptions of position’s working conditions.

Directly responsible to the Governing Board, the superintendent’s primary functions are to act as the chief operating officer of the Saugus district and to be responsible for the district’s overall academic and operational performance, according to the updated job description.

The updated job description also includes 12 detailed examples of the superintendent’s regular duties.  Previously, the job description only included five examples.

Additional duties include overseeing all elements of the day-to-day operations of the district, overseeing the development and administration of the budget, selecting, leading and evaluating teaching and administrative staff and the cabinet, working cooperatively with the board to advise them on matters, providing educational leadership to the Saugus community, administering district programs in accordance with the law and working with government officials and community leaders, among others.

The updated job description also includes several new elements in its qualification section.  Previously, the job description only required an applicant to possess a valid California Administrative Credential and have experience “as determined by the Board.”

In its updated format, qualifications for the position include three major sections related to knowledge, ability and training and experience.

Applicants are expected to have 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.

They are also expected to have the ability to effectively plan and administer district programs, maintain a community relations program, establish effective working relationships with the staff and the public, communicate effectively, prepare and deliver presentations and supervise the work of others.

They also are expected to have a California Administrative Credential and a master’s degree in education, and have a minimum of five years of experience as a senior official in a California school district with at least 5,000 students.

The updated job description also includes details about the job’s working conditions including rapid paced work, moderate to high levels of stress, frequent evening meetings and frequent driving to district schools.

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

“I think the new job description is much more comprehensive but I would like to hear my colleagues’ opinions,” Trunkey told The Signal Monday.

Superintendent Search Firm

Three search firms—Leadership Associates, McPherson and Jacobson, and The Cosca Group—are vying for their shot to act as the Saugus district’s major point of contact for hiring its new superintendent.

The superintendent consulting firms all have experience in California and work with districts to recruit, interview, select and nominate a superintendent to the Governing Board.

All three firms made presentations to the board during its regular meeting Jan. 16.

“All of them sounded like they have great track records in success,” Governing Board Member Julie Olsen said during the Jan. 16 board meeting.  “I think the most important thing is the quality of the outcome and the process.”

Two firms, Leadership Associates and The Cosca Group, have experience locally where they placed superintendents in the Newhall School District, Castaic Union School District and the Sulphur Springs Union School District.

The Saugus Board is expected to discuss the proposals from each firm and select a firm to assist in the district’s superintendent search during its meeting Tuesday.

“We are at the very beginning of a long process and I think that all the board members have an open mind at this point,” Trunkey said.  “As the process progresses and we meet with our search consultant, district employees and other stakeholders, we’ll have a much clearer idea of our ideal candidate.”

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