The TUSD Governing Board has selected an external firm to conduct its search for the district's next superintendent.

Just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, the board voted 4-0 to award a contract to PROACT Search. Board member Michael Hicks left before the meeting ended and did not vote.

The contract amount has yet to be finalized but the board agreed it will not exceed $30,000.

When current Superintendent John Pedicone was hired at the end of 2010, it was done in-house and cost about $10,000.

Before the vote, board member Mark Stegeman, who is generally critical of the use of consultants, said he would support using an executive search firm because the search is starting so late and "the stakes in choosing a superintendent are so high ... we need every advantage."

Stegeman feels generating an adequate applicant pool may be challenging because many strong candidates may be unwilling to abandon their districts so close to the start of a new school year.

The firm is expected to advertise and recruit candidates nationwide; develop screening criteria and interview questions; assist in the screening process; conduct detailed reference checks on the finalists; facilitate meetings with staff and stakeholders; and assist in final interviews in June.

The search for a new superintendent began shortly after Pedicone unexpectedly announced he would resign at the end of June - a year before his contract is set to expire. He has offered to remain at an interim capacity should the district fail to find a leader.

The job posting at lists a salary range of $190,000-$215,000 with a negotiable benefits package that is not to exceed $25,000 annually. Pedicone's base salary is $211,000.

The advertisement says the board is seeking an "experienced, visionary leader with an outstanding record in student achievement, fiscal and operational management as well as superior interpersonal and communication skills." It notes that they are looking for someone who is committed to TUSD for the long term.

In other business, an Utterback Magnet Middle School principal who was recommended for nonrenewal for the upcoming school year was spared.

Cindy Shepard-Mady was one of four principals in charge of schools that are at risk of failing after being labeled D schools two years in a row.

She was initially on a list of administrators up for nonrenewal, but her name was removed from the final list that was approved Tuesday night after it was determined that she did not meet the criteria.

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