Next Modesto city schools chief: Inside or outside?

Should Modesto City Schools be searching the nation or looking locally for its next superintendent?

At a special meeting Wednesday morning, a divided district board voted to let the public weigh in on the choice, board President Kim Spina said. Trustees hope to make their selection in time to allow a transition period before Superintendent Arturo Flores' contract expires June 30.

Retired Ceres Superintendent Walt Hanline facilitated the meeting, which lasted slightly more than two hours.

Hanline was hired by the board as an adviser at $100 per hour, with any workshops to cost $750 per half-day. His contract was approved at Wednesday's meeting on a 6-1 vote, with Trustee Rubén Villalobos the lone dissenter.

Spina said after the meeting that some trustees want a familiar face from inside its administration, while others want to hire a search firm to find a top-tier newcomer.

"Modesto offers a good challenge," Spina said, and she expects the opening will attract quality candidates.

The decision of the board, she said, was to choose a search firm to run a community forum to get public input on the issue.

"If the decision is to hire a search firm, then the firm (running the forum) would continue," Spina said.

The board sent a notice after the meeting that it will interview two search firms Oct. 11. No date was announced for the forum.

Flores announced this summer that he would not seek an extension of his four-year contract.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at or 578-2339.