RSF School District board hires firm to begin superintendent search

RSF School District
(Jon Clark)

The Rancho Santa Fe School District has tapped McPherson and Jacobson to lead the search for its new superintendent.

The board had narrowed its search firm selections down to two and held a follow-up Zoom interview with McPherson and Jacobson at a special board meeting on Nov. 3. Trustees unanimously approved using the firm, a partner of the California School Boards Association, at a cost not to exceed $16,400.

The board’s search will be led by William Huyett, a retired educator who served as a teacher and administrator for 38 years in Northern California. Huyett has conducted 38 searches in California and he is familiar with the community of Rancho Santa Fe as his aunt is a long-time resident—he also owns a home in Oceanside. He said he believes Rancho Santa Fe is a lovely place with a fine school: “It’s a very attractive position in my opinion so you’re going to get applicants,” Huyett said.

Huyett said his firm prides itself on engaging with the public, gathering input from staff, parents and students. He also credited McPherson and Jacobson with finding superintendents who will stay awhile, ideally five years in order to provide stability for a school district. The firm promotes the use of a stakeholder panel that is involved in interviewing candidates.

With Huyett on board, several trustees were looking to get momentum going on the search as soon as possible—starting with advertising the position this month and following up with surveys and input sessions. The board could possibly be interviewing candidates by January. As Huyett said, most sitting superintendents have a 45- to 60-day release period in their contracts so a new superintendent could be with the district by early spring.

Superintendent Donna Tripi announced plans to resign at the end of the school year but would depart sooner if a replacement is found.

With the fast timeline, Trustee Kali Kim wanted to ensure that the board is being thoughtful in its search to find the very best candidate: “I don’t want to sacrifice quality in getting this done quickly.”

This will be the district’s third superintendent search since 2016.