By Janene Scully

Noozhawk North County Editor

A Nebraska firm with links to the California School Boards Association will help find a new superintendent for the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District.

During a meeting April 7, district trustees voted 4-1 to hire Omaha-based McPherson & Jacobson LLC to guide the search. Board president Jan Clevenger and members Tory Babcock, Jose Ibarra and Stephen Luke voted for the action, with trustee John Baeke in dissent.

Current Superintendent Scott Cory submitted his resignation March 22 after eight years on the job. He did not disclose what or where his new position is.

A committee of two board members recommended McPherson & Jacobson, which has a Sacramento office due its affiliation with the California School Boards Association — a connection Clevenger called “a feather in their cap.”

The consultant will guide the board in searching for Cory’s replacement by advertising the opening, meeting with various stakeholder groups, screening applicants, reviewing candidates for the board to interview and assisting with the transition.

The search will cost approximately $13,000, according to the firm’s estimate.

The firm also helped the Santa Barbara Unified School District conduct its search for a superintendent in 2019-2020 as well as a 2016-2017 superintendent search for the Ventura Unified School District.

The firm’s packet included a letter of reference from three Santa Barbara school district trustees.

“We are thrilled with the new superintendent that MacPherson & Jacobson found for us,” wrote SBUSD trustee Laura Capps, adding she enjoyed working with consultant Ben Johnson.

“He is especially skilled at helping school boards work together and effectively find consensus — and that is so important in the final weeks of a high-stakes search. I am grateful for their partnership.”

One feature included in the finalist’s proposal involved the pledge of a two-year guarantee with an offer of a free search, except for expenses, if the chosen superintendent leaves the job “for whatever reason.”

Some board members have recently pushed for consideration of a combination principal/superintendent position and consolidation of the Santa Ynez Valley high school district with the six elementary districts.

Others consultants considered were Education Support Services Group of Knoxville, Tennessee; Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates of Schaumburg, Illinois; and Leadership Associates of Santa Barbara.

Leadership Associates, where Fred Van Leuven, a former 12-year Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District superintendent, also works, recently led superintendent searches for the Santa Maria Joint Union High and Orcutt Union school districts.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at