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The Cosca Group is experienced, proven, and authentic. Having a proven track record for over twenty years, we are confident that we will achieve your district’s goals and meet your community’s expectations. 

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Merced City School District


The Position Statement 

The Board of Trustees of Merced City School District (MCSD) is looking for an experienced and visionary superintendent with a history of successful district leadership. The right candidate will have strong analytical abilities, effective communication skills, and a collaborative and inclusive approach to working with others, fostering a positive environment that respects and encourages everyone’s contributions, including staff, associations, and families. Highly visible in the community, the superintendent will actively engage in district and regional events, serving as a proud ambassador who promotes the school district and its accomplishments. The new superintendent should excel in strengthening partnerships with educational institutions, community organizations, businesses, and governmental agencies, enhancing the resources and services for our students and families. The ideal candidate will have a proven track record in improving student academic success outcomes and managing various aspects of district operations. We’re looking for someone who respects our district’s history and uses the knowledge instilled in current successes as a springboard to move us forward. 

Community Stats / District Facts 

Located in the Central San Joaquin Valley, the agricultural center of California, Merced is a vibrant city with a small-town feel. With a population of 96,478, it is a diverse city located near the heart of the state and within a two-hour drive of mountains, coastal communities, and major cities. Merced, known as the “Gateway to Yosemite,” is home to the Merced National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Yosemite, local creeks, bird-watching, hiking, golf, and over 40 bike trails. Merced also boasts a thriving art community, museums, and a revitalized downtown region with restaurants and entertainment. MCSD works collaboratively with our local educational partners to support every individual scholar and ensure their success, from preschool to college and career. Within close proximity to the District are Merced Community College, UC Merced, California State University, Fresno, and California State University, Stanislaus. 

District Portrait 

In the heart of a thriving community lies MCSD, characterized by unwavering dedication and unity. Proudly serving a diverse community of over 11,400 scholars from preschool through eighth grade, MCSD is home to a staff of 1,400 dedicated classified and certificated staff across 18 sites, including 4 middle schools, 14 elementary schools, and a highly-rated state preschool program at 13 of these sites. The District is committed to the highest quality instructional program for all children. Families, staff, and other community partners are involved in shaping MCSD’s goals and actions through the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) process. The loyalty of MCSD staff is the district’s identity. With a longstanding dedication to their field, they actively contribute to the community’s well-being with a sense of pride that radiates through their work. This sense of community extends beyond the school gates, fostering collaborative relationships with local organizations and deepening multi-generational ties. There is a desire to build a stronger partnership with families and a community united in a shared vision for educational excellence. Through this unified approach, the district thrives, with each member contributing to its collective success. 

The innovative and specialized programs that underscore the district’s commitment to inclusive education are central and a testament to the district’s belief that every child deserves an opportunity to thrive, regardless of their background or abilities. From Montessori and state preschool programs to specialized education initiatives, every effort is made to accommodate individual student needs and ensure their success. Programs that support student learning are not just an aspiration but a reality within the district. A state-of-the-art STEAM Center, extended day programs, summer learning opportunities, and a dedication to college and career readiness ensure that every student has the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

Financial stability and resource management serve as the bedrock upon which these initiatives are built. With a prudent approach to budgeting and a focus on maintaining strong fiscal reserves, the district ensures that resources are allocated where they are needed most. This commitment to financial responsibility safeguards the district’s future and enables competitive compensation and benefits, fostering strong staff retention and morale. 

Our Commitment 

VISION — Our students have the academic skills and personal characteristics to continue their learning journey and pursue their passions and talents. 

MISSION — All students are ensured equitable access to high-quality instruction in environments that value and build from their unique talents. Guiding students toward mastery of academics, we build from our students’ talents to nurture their continuous academic achievement, critical-thinking skills, and develop the resiliency, perseverance and confidence necessary to excel in learning and life. Our District team provides positive, inclusive environments where all students feel safe, respected, and connected.

PROMISE — All students are empowered and nurtured to build personal success and contribute to society. 

Ideal Candidate Expectations 

  • Administrative Credential 
  • District-level, Five (5) Years of Experience 
  • Familiarity with the California Ed Code 
  • Knowledge of Budgeting and Business 
  • Pre-K through 8 Experience 
  • Residence in the district is not required, though full engagement in schools and community life is expected 

District Strengths, Insights, and Characteristics Desired in a New Superintendent

An extensive number of stakeholders participated in this process through meetings and an online survey to engage in a process that identified MCSD’s needs and the characteristics desired in their new superintendent. The Board of Trustees prioritized those elements as follows:

District Strengths

1. Staff Commitment and Professionalism: 

  • Staff are valued, showing loyalty and a long-standing commitment to the district. 
  • Staff members actively contribute to the community, reflecting a strong sense of pride and dedication.


2. Community and Family Engagement: 

  • There appears to be a sense of community bolstered by multi-generational ties
    and collaborative relationships with local organizations. 
  • Families and the district enjoy strong partnerships, emphasizing a unified
    approach to education and community support.


3. Innovative and Specialized Programs: 

  • Montessori and state preschool programs exemplify the district’s commitment to innovative and inclusive early education. 
  • Special education programs are designed to integrate students effectively, showcasing a focus on individual student needs and success.


4. Financial Stability and Resource Management: 

  • The district is recognized for its sound fiscal management, maintenance of strong budget reserves, and conservative approach to budgeting. 
  • Competitive compensation and benefits contribute to strong staff retention and morale.


5. Emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion: 

  • The district’s diverse population is seen as an asset, with numerous leaders reflecting the community’s demographics. 
  • A culture of inclusivity and respect for diversity permeates the district, influencing decisions and policies.


6. Educational Excellence and Staff Development:

  • A district-wide emphasis on professional development ensures educators and staff are equipped to provide high-quality instruction. 
  • Dedication to student success is evident through various extended day programs, summer learning opportunities, and a focus on college and career readiness. 


  1. Safety, Well-being, and Support: 
  • Address safety concerns and behavior management effectively. 
  • Prioritize staff and student well-being through support systems. 
  • Strengthen relationships with first responders to ensure safety measures.

2. Academic Performance and Instructional Support: 

  • Enhance academic underperformance through leadership and support programs.                     
  • Provide comprehensive training and after-school programs for staff and students.
  • Minimize external distractions to maximize learning opportunities.

3. Change Management, Leadership, and Community Engagement:

  • Implement inclusive changes with collaborative leadership.
  • Build trust through visibility and genuine interactions in the community.
  • Prioritize stability and commitment to foster positive relationships.

4. Governance Transparency, Communication, and Trust: 

  • Establish clear and consistent communication protocols. 
  • Maintain accessibility and transparency in decision-making. 
  • Ensure equal respect and inclusion of all stakeholders to rebuild trust.

5. Resources, Equity, and Collaboration: 

  • Address facility inequities and ensure equitable resource distribution.
  • Utilize internal and community resources effectively for student success.
  • Foster collaboration among stakeholders to support educational initiatives.


6. Diversity, Inclusion, and Family Engagement: 

  • Promote inclusive hiring practices and support diversity among staff.
  • Recognize and address unique challenges faced by diverse student populations. 
  • Strengthen relations within communities, especially those facing economic challenges.

Desired Characteristics

1. Integrity and Professional Ethics: 

  • Strong moral compass and personal integrity, both inside and outside the workplace. 
  • Consistency in ethical behavior and decision-making shows commitment to doing the right thing.

2. Experience and Knowledge: 

  • A well-rounded background in K-12 education with specific expertise in literacy and familiarity with the challenges of low-income districts. 
  • Experience in working with diverse communities and understanding the nuances of different cultures represented in the community.


3. Leadership and Vision: 

  • Demonstrated ability to lead with purpose, serving as a role model and visionary for long-term district success. 
  • Proven track record in creating innovative programs and using data-driven approaches to foster growth and engagement.


4. Communication and Community Engagement: 

  • Effective communication skills with a willingness to listen and integrate feedback from all stakeholder groups. 
  • Highly visible presence in the community and schools, engaging in meaningful interactions beyond formalities.


5. Staff and Student Advocacy: 

  • A commitment to placing students’ needs first while valuing and hearing the district staff, fostering a supportive and positive environment. 
  • Experience working with marginalized and socio-economically disadvantaged students, demonstrating a genuine care for all student backgrounds.


6. Cultural Sensitivity and Inclusivity: 

  • Cultural awareness and sensitivity to the needs of a diverse student body and community. 
  • An inclusive approach that recognizes and incorporates the voices of all groups, including those often underrepresented. 

Selection and Application Process 

Dr. Karla Rhay and Mr. Timothy Ritter of The Cosca Group (TCG) have been retained by the Merced City School District Board of Trustees for the search, recruitment, screening, and selection process for the new Superintendent of Schools. 

During the screening process, reference checks will be made with those familiar with candidates’ professional performance. Board members may visit the final candidate’s district and community. 

MCSD Required Application Documents and Submission 

  1. The Completed Application Form
  2. Candidate’s Personal Letter of Application
  3. Resume (include professional education and professional experiences) 
  4. Five Professional Reference Letters (three of which must be current) 

Interested parties are to PDF and email the application documents by the due date to:

      Dr. Karla Rhay / (951) 662-4406 

      Mr. Timothy Ritter / (951) 897-0056 

Application documents are due by The Cosca Group on or before…

Monday, April 15, 2024

You can download
the application HERE.

Contract Terms

The successful candidate will be offered a multi-year contract with a competitive and negotiable salary based on qualifications and experience. 

Board of Trustees 

Allen Brooks – President 

Birdi Olivarez-Kidwell – Clerk 

Jessee Espinosa – Member 

Priya Lakireddy – Member 

Beatrice McCutchen – Member