Click photo to enlarge
Hayward Unified School District's new Superintendent Dr. Donald Evans at his office in Hayward, Calif. on Thursday Nov. 10, 2011. (Anda Chu/Staff)

BERKELEY -- The school board has named Hayward Unified School District Superintendent Donald Evans as its only finalist in a search to fill the top job in Berkeley.

Evans who has been in the $229,000-a-year position in Hayward for just 18 months, said Friday he already notified his school board of the possible move, although he has not yet signed a contract in Berkeley.

"I just felt it was a good fit and the timing was right," Evans said. "I love the community here, but I really believe in Berkeley's vision. This is going to be great."

Currently, the Berkeley district is headed by two administrators who were named interim superintendents last fall. Berkeley's district, with 9,000 students, is less than half the size of Hayward's, which has over 20,000.

Now that Evans has been named the only finalist in Berkeley out of 70 candidates, a search firm hired to find him will "conduct an additional in-depth review through a site visit of his current district before considering a contract," according to a statement from the Berkeley Unified School District.

Berkeley has been looking for a new superintendent since former Superintendent Bill Huyett announced his departure in January 2012. He retired the following June.

A previous final candidate named last September, Edmond Heatley, withdrew his candidacy when a 2008 memo surfaced that showed his official stance against same-sex marriage while he headed the Chino Valley Unified School District in Southern California.

If Evans is hired, he would probably start the job July 1, the Berkeley statement said.

Evans said during his short tenure in Hayward he is proud of the voter passage of a $2.2 million parcel tax that funds schools and a program aimed at improving academics through "rigor, responsibility and results."

Also during his time in Hayward, Evans stirred up some controversy in March last year when he demoted seven principals based on the academic performance at their schools.

Evans declined to comment Friday on the demotions.

Berkeley school board President Karen Hemphill said in a statement that Evans came "highly recommended" from multiple sources.

Before heading the Hayward schools, Evans was associate superintendent of the Compton Unified School District and before that he was an elementary school area superintendent in Oakland.

Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.