The Higley Unified School District governing board is scheduled to vote Thursday on Superintendent Larry Likes’ recommendation for who takes over his job.
At the last board meeting, Likes announced his plans to retire and submitted his resignation, effective June 30. His pick for a successor is David LaRose, principal of San Tan Elementary School when it opened two years ago and the fast-growing district’s first assistant superintendent since this summer.
Likes said he took cost into consideration in his recommendation to hire from within the district rather than conduct a search, but LaRose’s qualifications and his record at San Tan were the overriding factors.
"He did a fantastic job of building a staff and creating a community down there," Likes said. "I think there’s a real community down there, and I think he’ll do a bang-up job."
Many districts conduct statewide or national searches when the top job opens up, but Chris Thomas, legal counsel for the Arizona Association of School Boards, said there is no law requiring a search, and in some cases it would amount to "a waste of time."
If appointed, LaRose will take over a Gilbert-area district where enrollment has exploded from 350 to 4,800 during the past five years, and officials recently coped with multiple child molestation cases involving teachers and an alleged student plot to shoot up Higley High School.
LaRose, 37, was a teacher and administrator in the Paradise Valley and Scottsdale school districts before taking the job at Higley in 2000.
He said there will be a lot of work involved with keeping up with the district’s growth, but also many opportunities to create traditions that wouldn’t exist in an older district.
"Lots of exciting challenges lie ahead," LaRose said.
The governing board will meet 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the library of Higley High School, 4068 E. Pecos Road, Gilbert.