Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

FUESD selects firm to help find a superintendent

Martin explains expense for Singh settlement is really $163,000

Rick Monroe

Special to the Village News

Trustees of the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District decided at its March 13 board meeting to select the more experienced, more expensive company to search for a new superintendent to replace Dr. Candace Singh. Several members of the board said the two private firms were both outstanding, but the nod went to Leadership Associates by a 4-1 vote.

Trustee Ricardo Favela voted for the County Office of Education to handle the search, saying he liked its $8,000 proposal. However, the other four board members voted for Leadership Associates and with its bid of $25,500. The other option was McPherson & Jacobson for $19,800.

“When you're looking at a $90 million (district) budget, there’s a difference of $5,000,” explained Suzanne Lundin in her vote. “We all look at every penny, but as someone pointed out, this is the most important search this district will be doing.”

Dr. Stacey McRae, board president, joined Lundin, Mary McBride and Diene Sebalj in voting for Leadership Associates. The board is counting on a new superintendent being in position by July 1.

The cost of the district’s settlement with Singh was also discussed during the meeting, with Cindi Martin, interim superintendent, distributing a report about the financial impact of the board's decision on Nov. 7. The settlement was made to end what would have been an expensive legal battle. Three new board members – McRae, McBride and Sebalj – were seated in December and not part of the settlement decision.

“While the settlement agreement with Dr. Candace Singh was $387,433.76, the impact on the district’s budget is less than half that amount,” Martin wrote in her report. “The district’s budget included Dr. Singh’s salary and benefits for the entire 2022-23 school year. Since her resignation was effective Nov. 20, the district paid five months (July to November) of her salary and benefits, and not the entire 12 months that was already budgeted. The district saved seven months (December 2022 to June 2023) of benefits.”

Martin also noted that since she is serving as both interim superintendent and associate superintendent of business service, that is a cost savings for the district since she is being paid only her salary as associate superintendent.

Based on those considerations, the actual additional cost to the district is $162,917.69, she said.

That number is based on first taking $462,765.31 budgeted for Singh’s annual salary and benefits, and subtracting $238,249.24 for the five months she was paid. That meant a savings of $224,516.07. Then subtract that savings from the settlement cost of $387,433.76.

“Although $162,917.69 is still a significant cost to the district, it is not the $400,000 (rounded number) that continues to be reported,” Martin stated. “It should also be noted that the next superintendent’s salary will likely be less than Dr. Singh’s salary. This will also yield an ongoing savings to the district’s budget in future years.”

Rich Chavez and Peggy Lynch of Leadership Associates presented its proposal to the board at the Feb. 27 meeting. They said they both live in San Clemente and are familiar with Fallbrook. They are two of the 14 partners in the company, which handles 67% of the superintendent job searches in the state.

Chavez said that him being Hispanic was an advantage in finding candidates and communicating with the community. The consultants will meet with the board to learn what the members are looking for in a candidate, establish a timeline, recruit, do background checks, coordinate community meetings, give weekly reports, go through the interview process, and handle all the details up to bringing the superintendent on board.

During open public comments part of the March 13 meeting, several community members addressed the merits of the consultants in the selection of the superintendent, but also the most important of attributes of a new chief administrator. Tara Jenkins cautioned potential legal issues with choosing a Latino because of race. Other community speakers agreed, saying the board should be “color blind.”


Reader Comments(0)

Rendered 05/19/2024 23:38