New superintendent will begin in July
The Cloverdale Unified School District (CUSD) announced former Two Rock Union School District Superintendent-Principal Elizabeth “Betha” MacClain as its new superintendent Wednesday night, June 17.
According to Two Rock’s website, MacClain has served as its Superintendent-Principal for two years, and has 11 years of experience with school leadership.
Two Rock is a single-school district, with 171 students making up the TK-6 Two Rock Elementary School.
The superintendent search began following the announced resignation of Superintendent Jeremy Decker, who was hired to be the superintendent of the Windsor Unified School District. Decker will start in Windsor at the beginning of July. He announced his departure from the CUSD on April 22.
Rather than hiring a recruiting company, which costs between $25,000 and $30,000, the district conducted an in-house search to fill the position.
“We had many, many candidates apply in a short period, and we basically had our July 1 start date and worked backward from them,” CUSD Board of Trustee President Jacque Garrison said, estimating that both her and Trustee Preston Addison had put in 100 hours searching for the new superintendent.
“She was one of my top candidates in both of the interviews with the stakeholder committee, as well as the board committee interviews. I’m just really excited and I think that she will do a good job. I have high hopes,” Garrison said.
Trustee Cecile Peters agreed with Garrison, saying that she was the most impressed with MacClain’s interviews and that she hopes she can stick with the district for some time, as it navigates the budgetary difficulties to come.
“There were a couple of top candidates that very well could’ve had this and done this position quite well. I think her interview went very well and, of the top choices, it was not easy at all,” Trustee Brandon Axell said.
Addison emphasized his hope that MacClain will stick in Cloverdale for the long haul.
“I think it’s important for our community to have somebody who has a long-term commitment and with recent history with Jeremy, we’ve had someone who’s been like that,” he said. Decker has been the superintendent at the CUSD since he was appointed to the role in an interim position in December 2014. “That’s a tough legacy to come off of, somebody’s who been here for that long.”
“I think we’ve found a candidate who’s committed for the long term … at every step of the way, I think that Betha distanced her lead over the other candidates. From written, to first interview to second interview to checking references. I think we’ve got somebody pretty phenomenal here to take the reins. Hopefully we'll get the award for longest tenure that Jeremy just set,” Addison added.
When it came time to approve MacClain as the incoming superintendent, Trustee Todd Lands was the only “no” vote, citing his disagreement with the superintendent contract itself.
“I only took part in the final interviews, so I didn’t get to see all of the 18 candidates, or around that amount. The six that were brought to us were all very strong candidates and Betha was my number one choice. She was a great interviewer and I thought she would be a great leader for our district,” Lands said.
“When it came down to things like timing and cost, it floored me and I was not part of that conversation because it didn’t match what I wanted for our district at this time with the budget cuts that are coming … It’s not against Betha as our superintendent, it’s against the agreement and the amount that’s in it,” Lands said.
"I'm really excited. i think Jeremy is leaving some big shoes to fill. I know this is a difficult conversation, I'm really aware of the budget context that we're in right now and I appreciate everybody's frankness," MacClain said. "I really hope I can honor the vision of the board and do good work on behalf of Cloverdale."
“I’m really honored that you selected me, and I’m excited to get started,” MacClain said.
Prior to the board voting to appoint MacClain as the superintendent, the board reviewed the salary schedule of the superintendent. According to board of trustees president Garrison, the hiring committee members from the board (Garrison and Addison) were able to bring the new superintendent in at a lower salary schedule.
Lands said that he’s uncomfortable with the salary schedule offered, since the new superintendent has less intra-district experience, as well as less experience overall, compared to Decker. The new salary schedule includes 225 work days and brings MacClain in at $183,000 for the first step, $186,660 for the second step and $190,393 for the third step. Decker’s salary schedule was slightly higher, with $187,227 as the first step, $190,972 as the second step and $194,791 as the third step.
According to Addison, the salary is in line with what superintendents in similar districts in the county make.
“I think this is really a fair spot to be when you compare similar school districts with similar school sizes in our county,” Addison said.
The board voted 4-1 to approve the salary schedule, with Lands as the dissenting vote.