Twenty-five people have applied to be the next superintendent of Fresno Unified.
The school board plans to narrow the pool of candidates down to five or six by next week, with the help of a search committee made up of community leaders. The vote on who will lead the state’s fourth-largest school district will happen by Aug. 13, according to school board President Brooke Ashjian. Fresno Unified’s new school year begins Monday, Aug. 14.
Ashjian could not disclose information about the applicants, but hinted at some details.
“The majority of them are within the state of California. Some of them are sitting superintendents, some of them are outliers from outside the public system,” he said. “Some have Fresno roots, some don’t.”
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25People who have applied to be the superintendent of Fresno Unified
Fresno Unified has been led by interim superintendent Bob Nelson since Michael Hanson was terminated without cause in January. Hanson’s firing came shortly after he announced plans to step down amid a federal investigation of the district’s construction contracts – though he said the controversy did not influence his decision.
Nelson, who served as Hanson’s chief of staff before being named interim leader, did not respond to questions on Monday about whether he has applied for the permanent position.
Ashjian said the district’s outreach to the public regarding the next superintendent was crucial, after calls for more transparency from administration in recent years. But school board members will be the ones to ultimately make the call, he said.
“I think it’s extremely important for the community to be involved. We wanted everybody to have a voice,” he said. “But at the end of the day, the board will pick the superintendent. The board is going to own this. We are going to get this right this time. This is too important.”
The board is going to own this. We are going to get this right this time.
Fresno Unified school board President Brooke Ashjian
But Ashjian warns the job – which could pay as much as $370,000 in total pay and benefits – won’t be easy. Ashjian plans to hold the next superintendent accountable for the district’s shortcomings, which he says have been sugarcoated in the past.
“We have to stop playing games and hiding the issues from the public,” he said. “The superintendent and his executive staff should be judged according to how they move the ball.”
In addition to hiring an outside search firm, the district has held public meetings in recent months to allow the community to weigh in on who should be the next leader. After finalists are selected, Fresno Unified trustees will visit them at their workplace – wherever that may be.
A special meeting will be held Thursday, in which the school board will meet in closed session to discuss the appointment of a superintendent.