The Austin ISD board of trustees unanimously approved an agreement at a meeting May 28 with Iowa-based executive search firm Ray and Associates Inc., which will soon begin work on helping the district find a new permanent superintendent.

Trustees Cheryl Bradley, Amber Elenz, Gina Hinojosa, Lori Moya, Ann Teich, Vincent Torres and Robert Schneider voted for the proposal. Trustees Tamala Barksdale and Jayme Mathias were absent.

"Under the contract Ray and Associates will support the board in various aspects of conducting a regional, statewide and national search for a superintendent," board president Torres said. "This will include developing a timeline and process, identifying and screening candidates and selecting a pool of semifinalists."

Torres noted the firm will also provide a "proven mechanism" for seeking input from the Austin community, staff members and other stakeholders.

The superintendent search will cost the district about $41,650, not including advertising and candidate expenses, according to the agreement posted on the district's board website. The company's base fee is $34,000, with an estimated $7,650 to cover additional expenses.

Ray and Assoc. specializes in educational executive leadership searches and has recruited traditional and non-traditional candidates for public schools, private schools and higher education institutions, according to the firm's website.

The approved agreement states Ray and Associates will "spend as much time as needed" to complete a successful search. Torres has said the superintendent search could take as long as a year. In the meantime, the district's former chief of schools, Paul Cruz, is serving as interim superintendent.

AISD Chief Financial Officer Nicole Conley said Ray and Associates will talk about its timeline and process further during at a June 9 AISD meeting.

"We appreciate the feedback we have received from the public and we encourage you to continue to send us your comments," Torres said.

More information is available on the district's superintendent search website.