Feb. 16, 2005 - Three finalists from both near and far will compete for the Marana Unified School District's top spot after board officials narrowed down an applicant pool last week.
After receiving more than 100 inquiries for the superintendent position, 13 candidates submitted a full application to the district, said search consultant Bob Hendricks, former Flowing Wells superintendent.
A complete application package included a transcript, evidence showing qualifications for a superintendent certificate in Arizona and four letters of recommendation, as well as a written letter of intent and written answers to three narrative essay questions, Hendricks said.
A community panel narrowed down the list to eight applicants before board officials met in executive session Feb. 7 to approve the final short list.
Only those serious about the position were considered, which means the district has three very strong candidates, Hendricks said.
"They differ, certainly, in their experiences and I think, at this point, the process is going to alloa really strong scrutiny of each of them," he said. "It gets right now, not so much whether they're qualified, as to which candidate is the best fit for the district. My opinion is all three of them could do the job."
The finalists are:
€ Dennis Dearden, assistant superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, Va.
€ Vivian Egbert, a special projects consultant for Title 1 School Improvement in the Tucson Unified School District.
€ Guillermo Zamudio, superintendent of Fort Huachuca Accommodation School District.
Candidates are expected to tour the district and meet with employees and community members in the next several weeks. They will be interviewed during executive session by board members, who hope to hire a superintendent in March, said Jane Pryne, interim superintendent.
The new superintendent is expected to assume job duties at the start of the next fiscal year beginning July 1.
Hendricks confirmed earlier this week that Deardon will be the first to visit Feb. 28, followed by Zamudio visiting March 2, and Egbert on March 3.
Each visit will last from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. beginning with an informal breakfast session with administrators and followed by a tour of the district, a luncheon and briefing with Pryne, a late afternoon public reception and a three-hour interview with board members behind closed doors.
"That's a fairly typical day for a superintendent, so I don't expect these candidates to wilt," Hendricks said. "If they're up to the job, this will pretty much be a pace they can expect."
Dearden currently oversees 22 schools and nearly 20,000 students in the country's 12th largest school district in Virginia. The district, composed of more than 200 schools serving about 163,000 students, is broken down into eight clusters, one of which Dearden serves as the superintendent. He has served as a middle school and high school principal in Grand Junction, Colo., and began his career in Iowa as a special education teacher.
Egbert provides technical assistance to schools identified as needing additional academic support. In addition to holding positions as an elementary principal and a middle school math teacher, she also served for three years as superintendent of the Yuma Elementary School District, a K-8 system with 18 schools and about 11,000 students.
Zamudio oversees a K-12 system with 1,300 students enrolled as military dependents. He previously held superintendent positions in the St. David and Bowie school districts, and taught vocational agriculture in Douglas, Santa Cruz Valley and Safford.
The position will pay somewhere in the ballpark of $110,000, which is in the range of base salaries that are paid to other superintendents in the greater Tucson area, ranging from $100,000 to about $125,000, Hendricks said.
Only one MUSD official applied for the position, Hendricks said. The finalists chosen all had prior experience as a superintendent, which was listed as "preferred," but not an absolute requirement, he said.
"Kind of the covenant of the process is the profile, which addresses experience," Hendricks said. "Those candidates tended to rise to the top in terms of the multiple experiences they've had in various districts. That comprehensiveness of experience in addition to the superintendence, I think, was very appealing."
During a Jan. 29 blind screening, candidates were reviewed by a search committee based only on their qualifications. Hendricks brought recommendations to the board Jan. 31.
Board officials have agreed during the past several weeks that appointing a new superintendent is the district's top priority. But once a new superintendent is in place, the next step will be finding a new assistant superintendent to replace Jan Truitt, who is serving in an interim position until June 30.
Hendricks said he expects a decision to be made in the week following the final superintendent candidate's visit. Because of the fragile nature of a superintendent search, meaning that most candidates usually are looking at other job opportunities, the district wants to act as quickly as possible, he said.