HAYWARD -- Unable to agree upon a new superintendent, but wary of heading into the school year without a permanent chief, trustees hired a candidate for a secondary administrative post -- one that was eliminated last year.
After a field of candidates was winnowed down to three, board members were unable to make an appointment because of differing opinions on what makes the best superintendent.
However, applicant Francisca Sanchez was given the title of superintendent of educational services, with her two-year contract approved Friday.
Sanchez, who most recently served as associate superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, will receive an annual salary of $183,272.
The position was eliminated as part of a reorganization of the Educational Services Department in January 2010. Affiliated duties were farmed to two other high-level administrators, who each received about $23,000 in extra compensation.
Executive directors Chien Wu-Fernandez and Leticia Salinas will retain their pay, as their titles can't be changed without notification before March 15.
Board President Lisa Brunner said the new position and extra salaries will not pose an additional burden to the budget because 11 administrators recently took early retirement, and a number will not be replaced to make up for the difference.
"This was not really planned; we hoped to have a superintendent by the end of June," said Brunner, who added that the board will meet with top administrators to discuss realigning some duties in Educational Services.
Brunner said Sanchez was an important hire because they need to make sure there is someone in charge of the academic programs as they continue to seek the ideal new chief.
The job description states Sanchez will be in charge of curriculum, assessment and research while ensuring "equal access and success to all educational and extra curricular programs designed strategically to close the achievement gap for all students."
"Everyone has not been served," Brunner said. "We need someone who will make sure the needs of all students are met."
However, the vote to install Sanchez wasn't unanimous, with trustees Luis Reynoso and William McGee dissenting. McGee said the process of selection was flawed and they should have had a separate recruitment for the post.
"The question that begs to be answered is, 'Did we get the best possible candidate for the position?'" McGee said.
He added he would have liked further study into why the position was eliminated in the first place, and whether there's been an evaluation as to how the executive directors performed when they absorbed the duties.
"We have not gone through any kind of thought-out process," McGee said.
Interim Superintendent Janis Duran announced her retirement in January and planned to leave at the end of the school year, but has agreed to serve until a replacement is found.
McGee and Brunner disagreed on how long that would be.
Interviews are set for July 21 and 22, but scheduling conflicts make meetings with the full board difficult in the coming months.
Nevertheless, Brunner said she hopes to have someone appointed by the end of summer.
McGee is skeptical.
"We have not spoken about our goal objectives for the school district, so now everyone is injecting their personal goals (into the superintendent search)," he said. "I'm not too confident it will be done quickly."