The board unanimously voted to spend $35,000 to hire Leadership Associates of Mission Viejo, school district spokesman Terry Koehne said. The decision came after a special meeting during which the board heard proposals from three firms.
Leadership Associates will meet with the board, district staff members and residents next month to get input on what is desired in a superintendent, according to the search firm's proposal. Identifying candidates, recruitment and advertising will follow, with an application deadline of March 17. The board would select and interview finalists in April.
Visits to the community of the leading candidate by the board and a contract offer would happen in the middle of that month.
Kessler has been the San Ramon Valley district superintendent since 1995.
Board President Greg Marvel, who with Trustee Rachel Hurd is working most directly on the search, said requests for funding proposals were sent to about 20 firms identified by looking at national databases and asking other school districts whom they used. Nine applied before the three finalists, who were all in the same price range, were chosen, he said.
Leadership Associates' search team includes former Mt. Diablo schools Superintendent Jake Abbott. The firm has done more than 160 superintendent searches in the state since 1994. Marvel said the board was committed to a national search, as opposed to an internal one, when Kessler announced his retirement.
Marvel said the board will decide which community groups to get input from, such as PTAs and city government representatives. There will also be public forums for people who are not in any group.
Eric Louie covers education. Reach him at email@example.com or 925-847-2123.