In a quickly convened public meeting on June 10 in the wake of last week’s resignation by schools superintendent Louann Carlomagno, the Sonoma Valley Unified School District board of trustees named a temporary superintendent and agreed to attempt to secure an interim superintendent by the end of June.
The board appointed longtime district Human Resources Director Loyal Carlon to the temporary role and agreed not to try to hire a permanent replacements for Carlomagno at this time.
Carlomagno, who has served as superintendent of SVUSD since 2010, announced her resignation on June 6, and will leave the district on June 30 to assume an interim superintendent role at Hillsborough School Distric in the South Bay.
Dan Gustafson, president of the SVUSD board of trustees, said the timing couldn’t be worse for such a head hunt.
“Experts have told us that this is absolutely the worst time to look for a permanent hire [as districts have just finished their hiring],” said Gustafson.
Gustafson stressed that the district shouldn’t rush to make a quick hire for the sake of expedience.
“Put it this way,” he said. “We should date rather than select a bride in a dimly lit bar at midnight.”
Gustafson said that the advantage of an interim, many of who are retired, is that they tend to have strong skills but aren’t worried about their long-term job security, “so they will tell it to you straight.”
A hiring subcommittee, which can legally only have two board members due to Brown Act restrictions, was formed, consisting of Gustafson and trustee Sal Chavez. The subcommittee is charged with coming up with a timeline, a list of desired characteristics, interview questions, the appropriate term of office and salary.
Gustafson said he already has a few candidates and that their goal would be to identify a potential interim by the end of the month. He also mentioned that they were happy to receive suggestions from the community.
Trustee Britta Johnson felt strongly that the entire board should see the entire list before it was winnowed down.
“We want to build trust in the process,” she said. Gustafson confirmed that all members would.
“The scary thing is that I can’t assure you we are going to find a great person in two weeks,” Gustafson said to the packed room of 80 or so community members who came out on a Saturday morning to take part in the public meeting.
He went on to clarify that the interim might be hired for a year, or only a few months, and that a search for a permanent superintendent would be launched simultaneously. He noted that the typical hiring season is December and January, and that starting now put SVUSD in the “pre-season,” which wasn’t a bad place to be.
The June 10 meeting was held in a large conference room at the district headquarters on Railroad Avenue. The board took public comment twice, once at the start of the meeting and again midway through.
Former longtime UCLA Chancellor Charles “Chuck” Young was one of the first to take the podium during public comment. He had strong words of praise for Carlomagno, calling her “the finest superintendent that I have encountered in all my years in education.”
He went to express his anger, that “one trustee has made it impossible for Louann and her staff to do their job and serve the children.”