It wasn't a surprising announcement.
Still, it means a new direction for the Lucia Mar Unified School District.
Superintendent Jim Hogeboom has been hired by a Bay Area school district, a Lucia Mar trustee announced Tuesday, forcing the South County district to begin an intensive search for a new top administrator.
"Can we tell them? Can I say it now?" board President Vicki Meagher said into her microphone at about 8:50 p.m. Tuesday during the trustees' biweekly meeting.
"We will need to conduct a superintendent search."
Hogeboom, 56, was conspicuously absent at Tuesday’s meeting, after announcing last week that he was poised to leave the Lucia Mar district just weeks after wrapping up tense contract negotiations with the teachers' union.
Meagher said trustees with the Novato Unified School District approved Hogeboom’s employment agreement a few hours before the Lucia Mar meeting.
Meagher said the district must now decide how to proceed in its search for a new superintendent.
“We have two people who have been through this process before,” she told the crowd at the meeting. “We know how this works, but let’s take the time to get this right.”
San Luis Obispo County Superintendent James Brescia, who was on hand to answer questions regarding transition plans, offered the services of the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education to recruit a replacement, though he said his search would be limited to California candidates.
The cost of a contract with the county office would be $10,000 plus travel expenses for candidates and school board members, Brescia said.
Another alternative, he said, would be to hire a professional search firm at a cost of $17,900 to $24,500.
Though trustees agreed that they didn’t want to spend a lot of money in light of the district's extra costs related to its new contract with the teachers union, they unanimously agreed that hiring a professional search firm was "the better option."
"I'm not normally for spending more money right now," Trustee Colleen Martin said. "But I think it is really important that we hire a professional firm. We've got to get some dates going and get some interviews set up. We don't have time to sit around and wait."
Others also echoed Martin's urgency.
"I believe that this is the most important decision we can make as a board," Trustee Mark Millis said. "I really don't want to wait a year to get a new superintendent in here. There are too many big issues coming up for us to not have someone."
The board will now meet with and interview several professional search firms to determine which they will hire. They are expected to announce their decision at their next board meeting on May 19.
After that, the board will begin garnering input on what the public would like in a new superintendent, to be used in its final decision.
Hogeboom is scheduled to start his superintendent duties at the smaller district — Novato enrolls approximately 7,600 students, compared with Lucia Mar’s 10,400 — on July 1. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.