The Sharyland ISD board of trustees seeks community input in their search for the next district leader. Civilians have until Jan. 12 to say their piece in an online survey the board will reference when making their new superintendent selection.
Outgoing Superintendent Dr. Maria Vidaurri announced her retirement from education in September, stating she and her husband plan to move near San Antonio to be closer to family. The trustees approved her retirement notice, effective at the end of June 2024, ending her contract a year earlier than expected.
Now, the trustees are in the midst of searching for Vidaurri’s replacement, and they enlisted the help of the Texas Association of School Boards in the process. TASB is a nonprofit that serves and represents school boards in the state. In October, the Sharyland ISD board of trustees entered into a $10,500 contract with the TASB Executive Search Services division.
Although the superintendent selection ultimately comes down to district trustees, Senior Consultant Dr. Marian Strauss explained that she and her team at TASB act as a guide in the process.
“We use the other divisions of TASB when we do a search to research and find out what we can about candidates that apply for those positions,” Strauss said. “But we help [school boards] make those decisions based on the information we gather.”
TASB has aided superintendent searches for more than 35 years and conducts them for school districts 10 to 30 times a year, depending on the need. Strauss, alone, has been with TASB for about a decade, with 33 years of experience in education under her belt. She spent 23 of those years as a superintendent in Texas.
“We’ve been doing this a long time,” the senior consultant said. “And we feel like we do a very thorough search and try to find the very best candidates for boards to look at and talk to.”
The process begins with a survey to gain community feedback. Sharyland’s survey has been on the district website since mid-December. In the form, community members can fill out a profile describing what they want to see in the next superintendent.
“We do get a lot of feedback. And of course there’s going to be both really positive and probably some not so positive comments just based on people’s personal experience with the district,” Strauss said. “The responses are definitely coming in. I don’t have a number of how many responses there are right now, but we welcome as many as possible.”
When the survey closes Jan. 12, Strauss and her team will compile the data and submit a report to the SISD school board.
The deadline for superintendent applications is Jan. 24. From there, TASB will send the applications to the board to review and discuss the top candidates.
“We’re going to look at work history. We’re going to dig deep and ask the questions that need to be asked as far as anything in their background that we need to know about. We’re going to look at some of their other attributes or personal skills that they have — if they’re bilingual, everything is at play right now,” the TASB consultant said. “And the community survey, that report will help the board have a picture of what the community is feeling right now and what they think is important for the next superintendent.”
Per the agreed timeline between the TASB consultants and the SISD board, by the end of February, the Sharyland trustees will have conducted the first round of interviews. In the first week of March, the board is scheduled to conduct the second round of interviews. On March 20, the board will name the lone finalist — the first time a candidate’s name will be made public.
“In Texas, our searches are all confidential mainly because we want candidates to feel comfortable,” Strauss explained. Our confidentiality is very important to us, it’s important to the board and it’s important to the candidates. So when they name the lone finalist, we will then make that public and have a press release.”
When the board names the lone finalist, per Texas law, they must wait 21 days before they can vote to hire.
In her experience, Strauss said timelines can change if something comes up. But, for now, they are on track to name the Sharyland ISD superintendent finalist at the end of March.