NEWARK — One of two internal candidates who sought to be the next Newark schools superintendent landed the job over the weekend.

Kevin Harrigan, associate superintendent of educational services for the district, will take the reins July 1, school board President Jan Crocker said Monday.

"We are in agreement that this is the man, the right one for us," she said.

On Saturday, the board interviewed five people vying to replace current Superintendent John Bernard, naming Harrigan as successor, Crocker said. Seventeen people applied, but officials would not disclose who the other internal candidate was.

Meanwhile, Bernard is in a three-way race to join Alameda County's board of education. In 2006, he made a futile try for county superintendent, coming up more than 54,000 votes short of incumbent Sheila Jordan's tally.

Details are being worked out regarding the length of Harrigan's contract and compensation, Crocker said, with an agreement hoped for by the May 20 board meeting.

Harrigan, 51, of Oakland joined the district in 2003 as principal of Lincoln Elementary. A year later, he became assistant superintendent and, in another year-and-a-half, took on his current job overseeing the district's principals, its curriculum and other areas.

A self-described "fifth-generation native" of San Francisco, Harrigan earned a bachelor's degree in physiology and psychology and a master's degree in education leadership from Saint Mary's College of California in Moraga. He has spent 25 years as a teacher and administrator, including in the San Francisco and Mt. Diablo school districts.

That experience will be put to the test as Newark grapples with the same financial crunch as nearly every other school district in the state.

"We're faced with a number of challenges at the state level," Harrigan said.

Local school officials in recent months have cut funding for programs and positions to shore up a $2.7 million shortfall for next school year.

Bernard, 63, who is wrapping up five years as Newark's superintendent, is running for the county education board's District 3 seat in his hometown of Oakland, where he still lives.

He will face two executive directors of educational nonprofits, Celsa Snead with The Mentoring Center in Oakland and Ken Berrick with Seneca Center, which runs a Fremont treatment program for emotionally troubled children.

Although he failed to oust his rival for county superintendent, he said his chances in the June 3 vote are much better.

"This is not a race against an incumbent," he said.

Reach Todd R. Brown at 510-353-7004 or todd.brown@bayareanewsgroup.com. Visit our blog at www.ibabuzz.com/tricitybeat.