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Superintendent Search - AUSD

August, 2008

In 2005, the School Board replaced outgoing Superintendent Alan Nishino (2000-2005) with Assistant Superintendent Ardella Dailey. The selction process took approximately five months. With announcement of Superintendent Dailey's retirement announcement in early July, the school board will conduct another Superintendent search.

Blog Coverage

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-ChangesSchools 94501/94502 breaks the news and poses somes questions
Super Search Blogging Bayport recapping the challenges facing the Board
Super Search Blogging Bayport update on Superintendent Search process
Vital Signs Blogging Bayport update on Naming the New Superintendent

2005 Superintendent Selection Process

April - Board is notified of Superintendent Decision to Leave Effective 7/1
May 11 - Official announcement about Superintendent Nishino Leaving is released
May 16 - Special Board meeting to announce appointment of Ardella to Interim Superintendent
June 7 - Measure A passes barely
August - CSBA is selected as search firm
September - CSBA conducts individual interviews and community forum
October - CSBA presents
results at October BOE meeting
October - Board Member McMahon solicits online feedback for Superintendent selection and releases results
November - Interview of Ardella and selection as permanent Superintendent

2008 Superintendent Selection Process

July 8 - Board is notified of Superintendent Decision to Leave Effective January, 2009
July 9 - Official
announcement about Superintendent Dailey Leaving is released
August 12 BOE Meeting - Superintendent Search Update, review of recruitment brochure
September 8 (Lum Elementary) and September 22 (Ruby Bridges Elementary) : Community Meetings
CSBA will be conducting one on one interviews with selected coomunity and district stakeholders during the day. In the evening, CSBA will be faciltating broader community meetings at Ruby Bridges Elementary and Lum Elementary. The purpose of the community meetings will be to solicit input about what the Board should be looking for in selecting the next Superintendent. Here is an example of a Superintendent Profile prepared for Riverside USD in 2008.
September 23 BOE Meeting
CSBA will present a summary of community input at a Board meeting.
October 22 - Application Period Ends
Candidates will need to submit their application by this date.
November 15 and November 16 - Interviews
The November dates gives the existing Board the flexibility to accomodate newly elected Board members in the process.
November 20 - Announcement
Board President Bill Schaff issued a press release indicating that the AUSD Board has offered a contract to serve as Superintendent of the Alameda Unified School District to Ms. Kirsten Vital.
Oakland Superintendent also released a statement regarding Ms. Vital new status at Alameda.
The Alameda Journal published this story.

Retirement Announcement

Superintendent of Schools Ardella Dailey announced today that she will retire effective January 1, 2009 due to personal family necessity.

Dailey has served the Alameda Unified School District for over twenty years, the past three years as Superintendent of Schools. Dailey noted that leaving at this time - with the recent passage of Measure H demonstrating strong community support for our schools - would be a good point for another Superintendent to step in.

The Board has begun working on a Superintendent search process that will seek community input and participation.

Dailey will continue working to provide the leadership necessary to keep the district on the path to excellence and equity for all students, and will ensure that the next six months will provide a smooth transition to a new Superintendent. Dailey will make herself available during the search process and after the selection to support the transition.

“It has been a pleasure to work with the School Board, the school district staff, our students and our community,” said Dailey. “I am proud of this district and am confident our schools will continue to excel in the years to come.”

School Board President Bill Schaff expressed his appreciation for Dailey’s extraordinary commitment and years of hard work on behalf of AUSD. “Ardella has dedicated the last twenty years of her professional life to serving and improving Alameda schools,” said Schaff. “the School District of Alameda is indebted to Ardella and we wish her the very best.”

“I know this transition will not be easy for her as she has always felt that all the students of Alameda are her extended family,” continued Schaff. “Our thoughts are with Ardella and her primary family.”

Recruitment Brochure

Draft Presented at August 12 BOE Meetinng

The Position

The governing board of the Alameda Unified School District invites experienced and successful educators to apply for the position of superintendent. The board is seeking a professional adviser who is an instructional leader with a commitment to educational excellence and equity for all students. By understanding and meeting the educational challenges in a diverse community, the superintendent will continue to develop a strong educational program for all students. The successful candidate will be highly visible and involved in the community and will serve as chief spokesperson for educational issues. Individuals with nontraditional experience in the field of education are also encouraged to apply.

The Community

Alameda is located in the geographical center of the San Francisco Bay area providing easy access to all of the activities the Bay Area has to offer. This island city is located on the east shore of San Francisco Bay with Victorian homes and shade lined streets covering the 12.4 square miles. Alameda offers a special living environment with a coastal climate, parks, historical business districts and numerous recreational opportunities, The city’s elected officials and appointed officials, business leaders, non-profit organizations, and volunteers work together to preserve and enhance the quality of life that has been enjoyed for over a century. The community actively supports the district through parent advisory groups, business partnerships and the Alameda Education Foundation. Since 2001, Alameda residents have shown their support for Alameda schools with the passage of three parcel tax measures and one bond measure.

The District

Alameda USD is composed of approximately 10,230 students in 10 elementary schools (3 Title 1 schools), 3 middle schools, 4 high schools. The Superintendent will also be repsonsible for oversight of two charter schools, an adult school and a child development center. There are 567 certificated staff members and 341 classified staff members. The district’s educational philosophy is:

  • Every student has the right to reach his/her full potential
  • Development of the whole person-intellectual, emotional, creative, and physical-is an important part of a well-rounded individual
  • Education is a shared responsibility of the student, the teacher, the parent and the community
  • Embracing diversity contributes to the strength of the community
  • Instruction should be designed to meet the needs of the diverse learners
  • High expectations result in high achievement
  • Students learn best when actively engaged in relevant work
  • Community service is a valuable learning experience for students
  • Decision-making must be responsive to student needs

The district reflects the community’s ethnic diversity with 30% Caucasian, 30% Asian, 13% Hispanic and 12% African American.

Selection Criteria

The following criteria represent standards to be used in the evaluation of applications and in the selection of the superintendent.

Professional Experience and Preparation

K-12 public school classroom teaching experience preferred

Successful school site administrative experience preferred

Successful district level administrative experience preferred

Experience as an assistant superintendent or superintendent desirable

Experience with a diverse socioeconomic, multicultural student population preferred

Masters Degree from an accredited college or university required

Personal Characteristics

Has high integrity and is honest, fair, trustworthy and forthright; treats others with dignity and respect

Has a commitment to being an active participant in the life of the community

Creates a district climate of cooperation and collaboration

Ability to listen to new ideas and divergent opinions and secures meaningful involvement of staff, parents and community

Communicates in a consistent and timely manner with all segments of the district and community; is a visible, articulate spokesperson and advocate for public education

Recognizes that all staff members are integral to the success of the district

Demonstrated skills in decision making; is decisive, directive, inclusive and/or collaborative as appropriate to the decision

Is highly visible in the community, schools, and work sites; is accessible and approachable by students, staff, employees and community members

Is sensitive and responsive to the educational needs and concerns of diverse ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic groups

Professional Skills and Abilities

Commitment to academic excellence, a record of improving student achievement and success in closing the achievement gap between ethnic, socioeconomic and culturally diverse students

Strong curricular leader with a dedication to educational excellence and high academic standards, innovation and equitable opportunities for all students

In depth understanding and knowledge of school budgeting and school finance at the state, district and school levels

Demonstrated ability to oversee the district’s facilities and resources in a responsible manner, as well as the ability to seek and find new funding sources

Demonstrated skills in analyzing potential effect and impact of state and federal legislation on the district

Commitment to arts education; will support and promote an equitable arts education program in all of Alameda’s schools

Demonstrated success in working with a governing board; is a person who ensures that the board receives appropriate information, advice and recommendations

A leader with a vision of where the district might go and what the district might become; ability to articulate the vision and incorporate other points of view and to decisively lead the district

Experience in negotiations with a demonstrated record of creating a positive climate in employee relations and a record of creating a climate of cooperation and collaboration

Ability to select, motivate and retain outstanding staff members

Selection Procedure

A professional screening committee will evaluate the qualifications of each applicant. The board and the screening committee will use the described criteria during the screening, interviewing, and final decision-making process. After receiving and studying the report of the screening committee, the board will select and interview the top candidates.

The board will select candidates for the final interviews, conduct the interviews, and select the superintendent. Any applicant who contacts a board member with the intent of influencing the board’s decision will be disqualified.

Interviews are tentatively scheduled for November 15 and 16, 2008. Travel expenses for those candidates selected for the interviews will be the responsibility of the candidate.

Salary and Contract Terms

The Alameda Unified School District Board of Education will offer a salary in the range of $185,000 to $200,000(competitive and negotiable, based on that individual’s experience and qualifications) plus medical benefits to the successful candidate.


Superintendent Search Press Release

The Governing Board of the Alameda Unified School District has selected, Elaine Collins, of the California School Boards Association Executive Search Services, as its advisor to assist the Board in its search for a new superintendent. One of the first tasks in the search and selection process is to determine the specific traits, skills, abilities and experience desired in the new superintendent. The Board feels it is important to obtain input from others. They have invited members of the staff and community to meet with Elaine Collins on September 8th and September 22nd, 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., to offer what they consider to be the criteria desired in the new superintendent. The open forums will be held each evening from 6:30 – 8:00 P.M. on September 8th at Lum Elementary, Multipurpose Room, located at 1801 Sandcreek Way, and September 22nd at Ruby Bridges Elementary, Multipurpose room, located at 351 Jack London Avenue, Alameda.

Written communications will also be accepted. Please forward these written comments to Elaine Collins at:

California School Boards Association
CSBA Executive Search Services
P.O. Box 1660
West Sacramento, CA 95691

CSBA Presentation of Community Feedback from Sept 8 & 22

On September 8th and 22nd, 2008 I met with staff, parents, community members and board members to ask what qualifications they thought were necessary in a new superintendent for Alameda USD at this particular time. The input I received can best be summarized in the five major areas of school finance, community involvement, staff leadership, student diversity and student achievement and reform.

School Finance: Understanding of school funding issues at all levels; realistic in dealing with budget issues; skill in locating alternative sources of funding; expertise in maximizing resources and communicating needs and available resources to the public; sees the “big picture” and leads planning to provide the best school program for all students; courageous in leading the effort to develop and implement a long term solution for a financially sound district that can restore programs and staffing and that can provide salaries comparable to others in the area.

Community Involvement: Appreciate the unique Alameda community and become part of the dynamic and involved community; will embrace civic engagement and reach out to city government, business, parents and nonparents with the purpose of uniting efforts to provide opportunities for students; an excellent communicator who will be the chief spokesperson and advocate for education in the area.

Staff Leadership: Provide leadership and be a role model for the executive staff and principals; establish and maintain consistent priorities for management team; expect teamwork and mutual support; have experience as a classroom teacher and administrative experience ideally at both elementary and secondary levels to be able to truly understand what needs to happen at the building and in the classroom for students to achieve; be visible in the buildings and support teachers; provide direction and training and hold staff accountable.

Student Diversity: Multiculturally astute; will support Culturally Responsive Educational practices that have assisted in closing the achievement gap for disenfranchised students in the district; address inequities in student opportunity for achievement; acknowledge all groups and provide a voice for those who have no voice; see the district as one community; realize the “one size that does not fit all” in providing learning opportunities for students and be a strong champion for racial equity.

Student Achievement and Reform: Successful experience in closing the achievement gap; understands how students learn and why they do not; assures appropriate programs for GATE students as well as programs for those who are below grade level; decisive and “thick skinned” in leading the effort for reform that will benefit students; listens to the opinions of others but is also a risk taker who has an entrepreneurial spirit and can inspire, motivate and bring people together; builds on what is working well and addresses what is not; innovative and unafraid to “rock the boat.”


November 20, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008 – The Alameda Unified School District and the members of the Alameda Unified School Board are pleased to announce that they have offered a contract to serve as Superintendent of the Alameda Unified School District to Ms. Kirsten Vital.

Ms. Vital is currently an Associate Superintendent in the Oakland Unified School District. Appointed in January 2006, she has worked to ensure families and communities are actively involved in improving their individual schools.

The school district conducted an extensive search and was pleased to find the best person for the job right here in the Bay Area.

The search process included two public meetings to gain community input, and generated a wide pool of qualified applicants. Separately, employee group leaders as well as parents were asked to interview key people within OUSD. While the members of the current school board made the final decision on which candidate to offer the position to, the newly elected members of the school board were actively involved(see note) throughout the interview process.

“We couldn’t be happier with the choice of Ms. Vital,” said School Board president William Schaff. “In her previous and current positions she has been extensively involved in all aspects of running a school district,” said Schaff.

“As our district moves forward in these difficult economic times, I am confident that Ms. Vital will bring the experience, energy, and hands on approach the district needs,” he said. “She understands and will actively work to involve every member of our community in the future success of our schools. She truly understands our motto of excellence and equity for all children,” added Schaff.

“To say I am excited and energized to join the Alameda Unified School District is an understatement,” said Ms. Vital. “Alameda is well known for its first-rate schools. I look forward to continuing that excellence and looking for ways to build on that.”

“In my position as Superintendent, my first job will be to reach out to the entire Alameda community and listen and learn,” continued Ms. Vital. “It’s important that we all work together to make our school system the best it can be.”

Before coming to Oakland Unified, Ms. Vital served the Los Angeles Unified School District as the Director of Instruction and Health and Human Services in the East Los Angeles local district, and as an administrator for school reform in the Central Los Angeles local district.

Prior to these roles, she served as co-principal at Santa Monica High School, where she led school reform efforts, including the implementation of an Advanced Placement (AP) access program that tripled the number of underrepresented students enrolled in AP courses.

Vital has also served as an assistant principal, humanities teacher and college-level professor. She has also consulted on school reform in other districts.

Vital earned her BA from Northeastern University and her MA in education from Whittier College.

NOTE:Board Member Trish Spencer wanted the record to reflect that she did not feel the characterization in the press release was accurate. She did not feel she had an opportunity to "actively participate".

I am pleased to inform you that Kirsten Vital , our Chief of Community Accountability for the Oakland Unified School District , has been offered and has accepted the position of Superintendent of the Alameda Unified School District . I congratulate the Alameda USD for recognizing her outstanding capability and leadership skills, and I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Kirsten and wish her great success in her career as Superintendent. After nearly three years of stellar service to the OUSD, Kirsten will be greatly missed by the OUSD family, and particularly by myself and the Cabinet. She will leave the District to take over her new post, which is effective January 1, 2009.

Kirsten’s tenure at OUSD has been marked by a commitment to the goals of equity, achievement and accountability. Her advocacy for literacy programs, increased parental and community engagement, professional development, school reform and increased access to educational opportunity through the District’s Options Process have brought remarkable improvements to the OUSD. Kirsten will work with the Cabinet during the next few weeks to ensure that her administrative responsibilities are transitioned smoothly.

Our neighbors in Alameda are wise to see that they will benefit from Kirsten’s blend of vision, competence and dedication. I salute them on their decision and Kirsten on her new endeavor. I hope you all join me in wishing her the very best as she continues to work to improve the life prospects of the area’s children.

Roberta Mayor , Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent
Oakland Unified School District

Vital to take reins of Alameda school district

By Lucinda Ryan, Alameda Journal, November 26, 2008

Kirsten Vital, associate superintendent for the Oakland Unified School District, will take the helm in January as superintendent for the Alameda Unified School District. She will succeed Ardella Dailey, who will retire in January for personal family reasons.

Vital and her attorney-consultant husband, Alan, live in Oakland. A relative newcomer to the Bay Area — she arrived here three years ago —— she said Alameda's downtown is reminiscent of Santa Monica, where she lived for a while.

Her venture into a career in education did not begin immediately with her college years. She studied business, but then met and was influenced by Ted Sizer, an advocate of education reform. After further research, she decided to change her major to education and earned a master's degree in the field. Her father was a high school history teacher and union president, and her mother was a chemistry teacher, administrator and college professor.

In her work for the Oakland school district, she cited her involvement in a program that provided schools with varying success rates with greater autonomy and curricular flexibility.

"It isn't based just on the principles of No Child Left Behind," she said. "It's based on substantial analysis of each school from data collected on particular groups of students."

She said the model has succeeded in bringing improved results from schools where students previously were performing at lower levels than their peers at other higher-achieving schools.

"It was a collaborative effort with a team of folks," she said, adding that the model has been recognized nationally.

Since her arrival in Oakland schools, she also was involved in creating a Family and Community Office, in which students who were already influential with their peers but who weren't the students running for school government or clubs were supported to become recognized leaders. One program the students worked on was a campaign to improve the food at Castlemont High School and other campuses.

"I went and ate with middle schoolers and had beef teriyaki and it tasted like reconstituted beef," she said. "Since the program, the whole district has worked to improve the food."

The search process for a superintendent included two public meetings to obtain parents' and others' opinions on what skills and qualities were wanted in the new superintendent.

The district chose the California School Boards Association to conduct the candidate search.

The sitting school board made the final decision on which candidate would be offered the position, and the newly elected members of the school board were involved throughout the interview process, according to school board member William Schaff.

"We couldn't be happier with the choice of Ms. Vital," Schaff wrote in a Nov. 20 public announcement. "As our district moves forward in these difficult economic times, I am confident that Ms. Vital will bring the experience, energy and hands-on approach the district needs."

Vital's salary will be in the range of $185,000 to $200,000, plus medical benefits.

Alameda schools have about 10,230 students in 10 elementary schools, three middle schools and four high schools. The superintendent also will be responsible for oversight of two charter schools, an adult school and a child development center.

Before coming to Oakland in 2006, where she also served as chief of accountability for Oakland Unified, Vital was director of instruction for the Los Angeles Unified School District, health and human services director for the East Los Angeles local district and was an administrator for school reform in the Central Los Angeles local district.

She also has served as co-principal at Santa Monica High School, where she led school reform efforts, including the implementation of an Advanced Placement access program that tripled the number of underrepresented students enrolled in AP courses.

Vital has been an assistant principal, a humanities teacher and a college professor.

She earned her bachelor's degree from Northeastern University in her native Massachusetts and her master's degree in education from Whittier College in California.


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Last modified: November, 2008

Disclaimer: This website is the sole responsibility of Mike McMahon. It does not represent any official opinions, statement of facts or positions of the Alameda Unified School District. Its sole purpose is to disseminate information to interested individuals in the Alameda community.