Visalia Unified still listening to parents about next superintendent

Tulare County Office of Education holds listening meetings through the end of this month to gather public input on a profile for Visalia Unified’s next superintendent

VISALIA – Parents unable to fill out the online survey helping to build a profile for Visalia Unified’s next superintendent still have a chance to give their opinion about what kind of person should fill the position.

Today, Sept. 15, the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) will continue its series of listening sessions on behalf of Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) prioritizing qualities parents are looking for in a new superintendent. Tonight, the TCOE will hold its third of seven listening meetings in the multipurpose room of Goshen Elementary. Future listening meetings will be held tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 16 in the gym at Divisadero Middle School; Monday, Sept. 20 in the multipurpose room of Valley Oak Middle School; Wednesday, Sept. 22 in the multipurpose room at La Joya Middle School; and Thursday, Sept. 30 in the multipurpose room at Ivanhoe Elementary School. All of the meetings are scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m.

The meetings will cover much of the same topics as the online survey, which closes on Sept. 17, to help the district find “the ideal choice for the next VUSD Superintendent.” Initially emailed out to VUSD parents and students in grades 7 to 12 on Sept. 1, the 10-question survey asks the public to prioritize personal qualities, previous education experience, level of education, the relative size of the district they are coming from, and if superintendent candidates have a connection to the San Joaquin Valley.

It goes on to ask participants to rate the current level of education students in the district are receiving and whether or not VUSD is good place to work or attend school.

Input from parents and community members will help TCOE build a profile which will be presented to the school board at its Oct. 12 meeting. Developing a profile is step one of the five-step process laid out by County Superintendent of Schools Tim Hire, who is spearheading the recruitment effort. Once the profile is complete, TCOE will begin advertising the job description anywhere professionals may be looking for jobs, such as EdCal magazine, EdJOIN school job postings and websites for professional organizations such as Association of California School Administrators (ACSA).

Applications will be due at midnight on Jan. 10, followed by candidate interviews in February. He expects to the board will be able to introduce a new superintendent at first board meeting in March 2022.

Visalia Unified approved a $20,000 contract with TCOE on Aug. 11 to conduct the search for its next superintendent.

In the meantime, Doug Cardoza will serve as interim superintendent. Cardoza officially took over the head spot for the district on Sept. 1, after Tamara Ravalin officially retired on Aug. 31. Ravalin announced on May 21 her plans to retire on Aug. 31, citing personal and health reasons. Ravalin was thrust into the spotlight two years ago when she was named acting superintendent by the board a week after her predecessor, Dr. Todd Oto, was unceremoniously dismissed by the board.

Cardoza steps into the interim superintendent role with over 32 years of educational experience under his belt. He is expected to serve as interim superintendent for about 10 months until the district hires a permanent superintendent. Once the new superintendent officially takes over, Cardoza will transition back into his role as assistant superintendent. The board approved a three-year contract in June for Cardoza to continue to serve in that role through the 2023-24 school year.

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