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School trustees vote to hire search firm to find next superintendent

By Bob Conrad
Washoe County School District Board of Trustees, along with Superintendent Kristen McNeill, meet at Damonte Ranch High School for their March 30, 2021 meeting. Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno

The Washoe County School District (WCSD) Board of Trustees on Tuesday advanced the process to replace Superintendent Kristen McNeill.

Officials presented options for the search process. Those included hiring a national firm, using a local consultant and possible district staff recruitment.

A national search firm would cost the district $45,000 versus a local consultant at $20,000, WCSD Human Resources Officer Emily Ellison said.

Ellison said the internal route would not be viewed as impartial. The trustees voted unanimously for the national option with the promise that input would be sought from students, staff, parents and the community.

Trustee Jeff Church first said he was against using a national firm but then changed his mind.

The last search was “not good,” he said. “I think a lot of the outside candidates were dismal. They weren’t good overall.”

He suggested the district look in-house for the next superintendent but voted for the national consultant anyway.

Trustee Ellen Minneto said recruiting from existing district staff was a bad idea.

“A national search doesn’t preclude local [candidates],” Trustee Angie Taylor said in agreement. “We want to keep it as open as possible.”

The trustees selected McNeill in May of last year out of the group recommended by a national search firm.

Ellison said a request for proposals will occur Oct. 26 and search facilitators will present proposals in late November. Recruitment and screening will begin in January.

The new superintendent is expected to start July of 2022.

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