A San Diego County schools superintendent has been selected as the finalist to fill the same position in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District starting this summer.
Rick Schmitt, who leads the San Dieguito Union High School District and has professional ties to Livermore, rose to the top of the school board's list following all-day candidate interviews last week, district officials announced Tuesday.
"The board found Mr. Schmitt to be the best overall candidate in all areas of school district leadership, including curriculum and instruction, budget development, fiscal oversight, facilities improvement, human resources and special education," board president Greg Marvel said in a statement. "He is well-known and respected as a student-centered leader who is highly visible, approachable, accessible and analytical."
The board and other SRVUSD community members will travel to Schmitt's current district -- based in Encinitas -- next week for a site visit, officials said. Pending a positive visit and successful contract negotiations, Schmitt would take over for retiring SRVUSD superintendent Mary Shelton for the start of the 2016-17 school year in July.
Board members anticipate voting to make an employment offer to Schmitt during their regular meeting next Tuesday, district officials said.
Schmitt, 58, said he was "humbled and extremely grateful" to be selected as the finalist for SRVUSD superintendent.
"I believe the timing and conditions in SRVUSD fit perfectly with my commitment to high community visibility and partnerships, strong relationships with staff and parents, managing a complex, rapidly growing district and proven success in continually improving student achievement while keeping the focus on overall student well-being," he said in a statement.
"The climate and demographics in SRVUSD are almost identical to the SDUHSD, an educated community with high expectations, active and informed parents and a strong history of student success," he added. "My wife and I look forward to returning to the Bay Area and to meeting the community."
The school district began the process of searching for a new superintendent more than two months ago after Shelton announced in February she would retire from the SRVUSD on June 30 to cap four years at the helm.
Board members contracted with executive-search firm Leadership Associates to serve as consultants during the process. The firm led the recruitment drive, accepting and reviewing candidate submissions before presenting 12 applications to the board earlier this month.
The board reduced the list to six finalists, whose names remained confidential, and then conducted interviews on Friday and Saturday at the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce offices.
District officials revealed that Schmitt was the leading candidate on Tuesday afternoon.
"Mr. Schmitt is an educational leader who has a passion for helping each student achieve his or her full potential," Marvel said. "He has been the catalyst for educational reforms in San Dieguito that have made a positive difference in the lives of thousands of children, whether they are college-bound or interested in immediate career opportunities."
Schmitt has served since 2013 as superintendent of the San Dieguito district in north-coastal San Diego County, including Encinitas, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Sante Fe, the La Costa community in Carlsbad and the Carmel Valley community in the city of San Diego.
He began his education career teaching history, economics, government, AP economics, AP government and AP U.S. history in a variety of schools.
Schmitt became vice principal at Livermore's Granada High School after earning a master's degree and administrative credential. He was later appointed principal at East Avenue Middle School in Livermore.
He moved to the San Diego area in 1999 to be closer to his aging parents and started work as principal of Coronado High School. He shifted to the San Dieguito district in 2003 as principal of Torrey Pines High School.
Schmitt then transitioned to the district office, working six years as associate superintendent of educational services. He was promoted to deputy superintendent in 2012 and was named superintendent a year later.
He plans to relocate to the San Ramon Valley with his wife, Lyssa, who owns a home-staging business. They have two adult children, a 27-year-old son who works an engineer for Illumina in San Diego and a daughter, 25, who is a project manager for Forefront in New York City.
"I care deeply about each student's personal and academic growth," Schmitt said.
"I will accept and honor the work that has already been done to achieve excellence in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District," he added. "At the same time, I will look to staff and the community to examine where they presently stand in the continued pursuit of that excellence and lead in attaining a future of which the SRVUSD will continue to be proud."