Consultants from McPherson and Jacobson, LLC, the firm helping the Hemet Unified School District search for a new superintendent, sought the Idyllwild community’s thoughts about the search and selection process.

Although the April 6 session was open to the public, only a small group, less than 10, came to share their opinions with Ben Johnson, a director at Alvord Unified School District, and Dennis Murray, the former Perris Union High School District superintendent.

The consultants were seeking comments and response to four questions:

• Tell us something good about the HUSD community.

• Tell us some good things about the school district.

• What are the issues that a new superintendent should know about as they begin?

• What are the characteristics, attributes and skill that the next superintendent should possess to be successful?

The comments and suggestions from this and the other sessions would be shared with the HUSD board as they consider the selection of the next superintendent, Murray stated.

The first two questions sought ideas that could be used to attract potential candidates to the district, they said.

While most of the district is located in the Hemet Valley, Beth Swanson, Idyllwild School office manager, noted that the areas from Idyllwild to Hamilton School offer unique situations and perspectives, including snow and the absence of traffic lights, that provide variety to the district.

Principal Matt Kraemer stressed that Idyllwild School is balanced and well-rounded. The school curriculum and activities include art, music and sports, including a good relationship with Idyllwild Arts.

And everyone agreed that Idyllwild School serves as a hub of the local community.

In response to the second question, the group stressed the success of HUSD’s work to integrate technology into the curriculum as well as workflow. And Murray concurred, “Your technology is head and shoulders above other districts.”

“The superintendent should recognize that our needs are sometimes different than down the Hill,” Kraemer said. “There is a lot of community involvement here.”

Another participant observed that HUSD has a large range of socio-economic demographics. Kraemer confirmed that he has observed a rise in the poverty rate during his 18 years with HUSD.

The third question elicited a comment noting that the district had just negotiated new contracts with the teaching and support staffs.

This led to comments stressing that the new superintendent should possess strong “people” skills to maintain good relations with both the unions and community stakeholders.

The group also recommended someone with classroom experience rather than just an administrative background. Finally, Kraemer would prefer a manager who can recognize the different needs of the district’s schools rather than one rule or formula applied across the board.

As the session finished, Johnson shared that many very qualified candidates had already reached out preliminarily. But he has stressed that the district needs a leader who will be “here awhile, not just two or three years.”

Idyllwild was the ninth public meeting McPherson and Jacobson had scheduled and they were headed to Anza for an evening session the same day.

The next step is the application deadline on April 19. In early May, Johnson and Murray will meet with the board to develop a short list of candidates. The interviews are tentatively scheduled for May 10 and 11. A decision is expected at the May 17 board meeting.

Anyone who would like to share their thoughts or comments about the search process can still do so at A Spanish version of the survey is available at