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March 23, 2019

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School Board chooses firm for CCSD superintendent search

Updated Friday, Dec. 1, 2017 | 3:26 p.m.

The Clark County School Board on Thursday selected Iowa-based recruiting firm Ray and Associates to assist in the search for the district’s next superintendent.

One of the oldest school executive search firms in the country, Ray and Associates has assisted in superintendent searches for Broward County Public Schools in Florida, Charlotte-Mecklenurg Schools in North Carolina and the Hawaii State Department of Education. Trustees said their proven record of results, competitive price and commitment to diversity helped set them apart from the three other search firms in the running.

This is the first time Ray and Associates has worked with CCSD.

Ray and Associates was selected over San Antonio-based JG Consulting; Omaha, Neb.-based McPherson and Jacobson; and Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates from Schaumburg, Ill. JG Consulting was the school board’s second choice that would be used should a contract with Ray and Associates fall through for any reason.

Ray and Associates priced their services at $43,250, plus the cost of advertising and candidate travel expenses. Their bid was the second lowest of the four firms.

JG Consulting was the cheapest option at $40,000. The other two candidates were notably priced higher: Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates quoted a $75,000 base fee with additional costs for staff expenses, advertising and background checks, and McPherson and Jacobson quoted $61,250 with additional costs for advertising and background checks. None of those prices included candidate travel expenses, which one consultant noted can run up to $1,500 per day depending on distance traveled, whether a spouse accompanies them and other factors.

The financial cost of the superintendent search took on increased importance given the district’s ongoing budget deficit. Trustees are currently considering $22 million worth of budget cuts at its board meeting tonight and approved $43 million worth of budget cuts back in August.

Trustees interviewed each consulting firm for an hour. Their questions focused on transparency throughout the hiring process, finding diverse candidates and having an understanding of the unique needs of large school districts. CCSD is the fifth-largest district in the nation.

Trustee Linda Cavazos said she liked Ray and Associates’ strategy of “over-communicating” with their clients: “Having an honest plan and process, and to have clear expectations, that’s important for the board.”

Trustee Chris Garvey said she appreciated the firm’s experience with diverse communities across the country and commitment to recruiting diverse candidates.

“I think they’ll be good for CCSD,” she said. “Our population has changed — we’re now a minority majority (district), but a lot of our teaching staff comes from the Midwest.”

Garvey noted that the school board members would have to discuss with the firm the issue of transparency. More specifically, there is not yet a consensus on when during the hiring process the candidates become publicly known. Were the district to handle the search without the assistance of an outside firm, applicants would become part of the public record immediately — something consultants say deters top candidates who don’t want to jeopardize their current positions.

“The best people will have to be recruited — aggressively recruited,” said Gary Ray, the founder and chairman of Ray and Associates.

Outgoing Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky will retire in June after 30 years with the school district. He took on the top leadership role in 2013, and the five-year run will make him the longest-tenured superintendent since Carlos Garcia, who stepped down in 2005 after five years.