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Socorro ISD trustees hire superintendent search firm

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The same search firm that recently found the superintendent of Texas’ largest school district will lead the search for Socorro Independent School District’s next leader.

Socorro trustees voted 7-0 during a special meeting Wednesday to offer the search for José Espinoza’s replacement to Austin-based JG Consulting.

In addition to its recent Houston ISD search, which ended in May, JG Consulting assisted Austin ISD trustees in finding a superintendent in 2020.

Multiple Socorro trustees said they appreciated that the firm is not currently conducting searches for other Texas districts. JG Consulting President and CEO James Guerra said in a presentation prior to the vote he declined to put in a bid to run El Paso ISD’s search because he wanted to work with Socorro.

“We held out for this particular search,” Guerra said.

JG Consulting President and CEO James Guerra, left, fields questions from Socorro ISD trustees Wednesday. Trustees hired his firm to find the district’s new superintendent. (Danielle Prokop/El Paso Matters)

The firm’s bid to SISD was $50,000, according to district spokesperson Daniel Escobar. Trustees have yet to award the firm a contract.

JG Consulting was one of four firms trustees considered, including Austin-based Texas Association of School Boards Executive Search Services; Nebraska-based McPherson & Jacobson, LLC; and Iowa-based Ray and Associates, Inc. Ray and Associates led SISD’s superintendent searches in 2003 and 2009.

EPISD trustees tapped TASB to lead its search, but ended that contract last month after learning a TASB employee’s relative was interested in the position.

Trustee Michael Najera said JG Consulting’s ability to conduct Spanish-language community forums rather than relying upon translators was a major factor in his decision to go with them.

“When I listen to translation the culture is lost; the personality behind the statement, the meaning behind the statement is lost,” he said.

Socorro ISD has been without a permanent leader since Espinoza resigned in early May, days after the previous majority faction lost control of the board in elections. Internal auditor Marta Carmona is serving as interim superintendent.

Guerra told trustees he anticipates they will receive up to 65 candidates. Searches typically last four to six months, he said, but it will be up to the board to set the timeline and scope, including whether to look nationally for candidates. The board could select a finalist as soon as January, he said.

If the person trustees ultimately hire leaves Socorro ISD within two years, JG Consulting will conduct a new search at no cost.

Cover photo: The Socorro Independent School District headquarters in East El Paso. (Danielle Prokop/El Paso Matters)

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Molly Smith

Molly Smith has been a reporter for the El Paso Times and The (McAllen) Monitor. She’s covered education, criminal justice and local government. A Seattle native, she’s lived in Texas since 2014, with stops in Austin, the Rio Grande Valley and now El Paso. She can be reached at mksmith@elpasomatters.org or 915-247-8857.

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