ALBANY -- The public is being invited to participate in the Albany Unified School District's search for a new superintendent to replace Marla Stephenson, who is retiring at the end of the current school year.

"The Board of Education is committed to a transparent search process and intends to involve students, staff, community members, and local business and community leaders in the search process," read an email sent out by the district.

An online survey runs through Jan. 24 (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5ZWQQLW) with a link available on the AUSD website, www.ausdk12.org.

A public forum will also be held at Cornell Elementary School, 920 Talbot Ave., from 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 21. The forum will be conducted by search firm Ray & Associates, which has been contracted by the district to help find a new superintendent. The firm specializes in searches for educational executives.

The forum will be held in the multipurpose room at the school.

According to the district, "Ray & Associates will analyze data from the surveys and public forums to formulate a set of desired characteristics the new superintendent should possess."

Stephenson announced her retirement last June with the intent of giving the district ample time to find a replacement. She has worked for the AUSD for 14 years, the last six as superintendent. Before that, she served as an assistant superintendent and as principal at Albany Middle School.

Stephenson grew up in Piedmont and began her career in education in Berkeley. She also spent four years as a principal at a St. Helena elementary school before coming to Albany.