The new headquarters of the Berkeley Unified School District. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The Berkeley Unified School District may have new leadership as early as next week, but it will only be temporary.

The school board voted in closed session Wednesday night to hire two administrators to serve as tandem superintendents. The idea is to have the pair lead the district for two to three months while the search for a permanent superintendent continues, according to Karen Hemphill, a member of the BUSD board. The current superintendent, Bill Huyett, is retiring.

The board voted in closed session on the concept of hiring tandem superintendents, but did not vote on any individual contracts, so the names of those under consideration do not have to be released, said Hemphill. She added that two have stepped in for Huyett in the past when he went on vacation.

“We don’t have a contract signed,” said Board President John Selawsky. “It’s premature to name people.”

Bill Huyett at his retirement party in June. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD

Selawsky said the board will announce the interim superintendents next Wednesday after a board meeting.

Huyett, who has served as superintendent for four years, announced in December  that he planned to retire. The board hired a search firm to find a replacement candidate and had hoped to have one in place by June 30, the target date of Huyett’s exit.

After receiving 60 applications and interviewing 10 people, the board failed to find an appropriate candidate. It then asked Huyett to postpone his departure.

Board members have been interviewing more candidates (including one Wednesday night), and Selawsky said Wednesday that he hopes the interim candidates will only serve two to three months, a comment that suggested he and other board members were optimistic about finding a replacement for Huyett.

Hemphill said if the board does not select someone, it will hire an outside interim superintendent who can stay for a long period.

In the meantime, the tandem superintendents will split their responsibilities. One will be a public face for the district, setting the board agenda and speaking from the dais, said Hemphill. The other tandem superintendent will focus on business and financial operations, overseeing human resources, finance, and facilities.

The school year begins Monday Aug. 27.

Huyett said Thursday he will stay on until the board appoints a replacement.

What does Berkeley want from its new schools head? [03.14.12]
Berkeley schools superintendent Bill Huyett to retire [12.06.11]

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...