The hunt for TUSD's next superintendent is on, as the Governing Board approved the recruitment and hiring process Tuesday night.

Tucson Unified School District will conduct a national search using an external firm in hopes of finding a replacement for Superintendent John Pedicone, who unexpectedly announced his resignation last month.

Board members Mark Stegeman and Michael Hicks voiced concerns that the search would be rushed as a result of the timing of the announcement. As a result, Pedicone pledged to serve in an interim capacity if the board is unable to find a new superintendent by July 1; his resignation is scheduled to be effective June 30.

"I wouldn't leave this district in any bad condition," Pedicone said after last night's meeting.

The search firm has yet to be identified. Quotes are being solicited, and the board expects to award a contract April 9.

When the district hired Pedicone two years ago, the search cost about $10,000.

The firm is expected to develop a profile of the experience and qualifications for the new superintendent, develop screening criteria, come up with interview questions and conduct detailed reference checks.

Meetings with the staff and stakeholders will be conducted between May 15 and June 10. Final interviews would be held in June.

Pedicone has not formally responded to a letter from Stegeman and Hicks, which asked that he reconsider and fulfill the final year remaining on his contract.

They argued that "most successful superintendents will not enter a search process that would cause them to announce in May or June that they are leaving their districts leaderless for the next school year."

They added that an unsuccessful initial search could "taint the district's second effort with the air of desperation."

However, when the district hired Pedicone, the search was conducted in July with the intent of having a superintendent start mid-school year in January. There were nearly three dozen applicants.

Pedicone's promise on Tuesday to stick with TUSD brought relief to Stegeman.

"This really alleviates the concern I had about being forced into a fast decision," he said.

The superintendent position will be posted today at with a closing date of May 3.

Because there is no provision for an early departure in Pedicone's contract, the board is discussing the terms of terminating the contract in a closed session.

Pedicone's base salary is $211,000, plus benefits and additional allowances for his vehicle, civic responsibilities and technology.

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Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea or 573-4175. On Twitter @AlexisHuicochea