The Board of Education didn't take long to get new superintendent Mary Shelton under contract.
"We're going to have you sign your contract tonight," Board president Greg Marvel said Wednesday night at the Board of Education meeting. "Before you can drive away."
Laughter ensued, as well as Shelton's signature.
From 21 applicants, screened down to a few, and deciding on one, the board approved Shelton, with a unanimous vote, as the new superintendent of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.
"I'd like to thank the board for the confidence in me," Shelton said before signing her contract. "I was really impressed as a candidate with the thoroughness in the process of selection. I felt I got to know the board a bit and was impressed with the board's commitment to the students in the San Ramon Valley school district."
Shelton comes to SRVUSD after 11 years in the Sacramento City Unified School District as an administrator. That district was much larger than the SRVUSD, serving 48,000 students on 81 campuses. SRVUSD serves more than 30,000 students on 35 campuses. Before Sacramento, she had spent 11 years at the Jesuit Catholic High School, also in Sacramento, as a math teacher and assistant principal.
"(Shelton) brings to this district a wealth of experience," Marvel said. "She's a change agent and believes passionately in the quality of public education."
San Ramon Valley is consistently ranked as a top school district in California and both Shelton and the board expressed a drive to go further.
"We're one of the best in California. Now we have to talk about being the best in the nation and how we are going to get there," Marvel said.
The board believes that "how" lies in Shelton.
"No one is resting on their laurels here and they very much want to see continued improvement," Shelton said. "I'm thrilled beyond belief and look forward to leading (the district) toward the No. 1 district in the nation."
Marvel said with the cuts in state funding -- "Since the recession we've lost $80 million in general fund revenue," he said -- the district is consistently put in a tough spot.
"I commend anyone who wants to step up in these increasingly trying times," he said. "It's a difficult situation as the state consistently struggles with delivering tax revenue."
Board member Denise Jennison thanked the community for their feedback during public discussion sessions regarding the hire of a new superintendent.
"We got input from stakeholders and that input helped us narrow it down," she said. "We believe Mary's skill set very closely matches what our community and this board want to move the district forward."
The search for Shelton started in March, when the current superintendent Steve Enoch after four years at SRVUSD (and 40 in public education).
"We were a month or two behind the curve but we got up to speed very fast," Marvel said.
Marvel praised the board and Leadership Associates, an executive search firm in California, for it's ability to choose a successor to Enoch so quickly.
Shelton will assume the position of superintendent on July 1, getting a base pay of $240,000 -- same as Enoch's 2011-12 salary.
A little more about the new supe
Shelton, prior to her work in Sacramento, spent four years teaching college math at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, La., and at Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss.
Before her education career, she was a computer programmer for the Chevron Oil Company in New Orleans.
Shelton has a Bachelors of Science degree in secondary Education from the University of Tennessee and a Masters of Science degree in mathematics from the University of Mississippi.
She has two grown children, an attorney and civil engineer, who live out of the area.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the new superintendent?