The Galt Joint Union High School District will hire a headhunter to find a replacement by July for retiring Superintendent Daisy Lee.
"Her retirement put the board in a bad situation. It was poor timing, in my opinion," trustee Angela DaPrato said. "Now we have to go with a headhunter because there's not a lot of time. It's not as fair as I'd like it be."
The 3-1 decision was made at Tuesday's regular school board meeting. Trustee Diann Kitamura was absent.
The California School Boards Association could charge as much as $21,500 for the expedited service, although trustees directed Lee to contact the agency and possibly others to inquire about cost reductions.
"That's a large amount of money, especially in this economy," DaPrato said Wednesday.
She cast the lone dissenting vote to hire a firm because she wanted more time to review the backgrounds of other agencies.
"I didn't feel there was sufficient time. I want to have some leverage with these companies," she said.
At first, DaPrato was against hiring a headhunter due to the cost, especially at a time when the board is cutting school programs.
"I don't think it's right to spend money. What if we have to do this again in three years?" she said.
Teachers' union president Alex Bauer would also like to see the district attempt to find a superintendent on its own.
"However, based on the time constraints, it may be wise to bring in an outside agency since it is critical that we find a replacement quickly," he said.
Bauer, who also teaches English at Galt High School, said trustees need to select a superintendent who understands how to manage all facets of the district.
"Since we are a small district and everyone knows everyone else, it is important that a new superintendent is able to work with people well," he said.
DaPrato said she will seek both community and teacher input when selecting a new superintendent.
"When I look for a superintendent, I want someone like (Jeff) Jennings," she said. "People really trusted him, they embraced him. I want someone who is going to serve for a long time."
Jennings retired from the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District in 2006 after being in the position for more than 10 years.
Bauer would also like to see a district leader who is able to listen well to the community and collaborate effectively with all teaching staff to improve student learning, he said.
"They need to find a superintendent who is willing to bring the education level back up to where it should be," former school board member Pat Maple said. "They need to find someone who is academically oriented ... and will stand up to special interests of the district."
But instead of hiring a new superintendent, he feels now is a perfect opportunity to unify the two school districts.
"Until you have a superintendent who can transcend the school board ... it's never going to change," Maple said.
The district went through the replacement process less than three years ago when former Superintendent Tom Gemma left the district. He served as the district's leader for approximately four years.
Lee, who announced last month that she plans to retire at the end of the school year to take care of a young grandchild, was hired from a Modesto school district after a months-long search using the same headhunter firm approved Tuesday.
At that time, the California School Boards Association interviewed employees and community members to seek input on the type of superintendent they wanted.