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Comparing new valley superintendents

Uploaded: May 5, 2016
Three Tri-Valley school districts will have new superintendents by the time school starts in August.
Pleasanton school trustees already have made their choice, as have San Ramon Valley trustees and both are named Rick. Dublin’s replacement for Stephen Hanke is still in process.
Pleasanton has hired Rick Rubino, most recently superintendent for four years in the Gridley district in rural Butte County. The district has one high school, one middle school and two elementary schools with a total enrollment of about 1,700 students. That’s way less than the enrollment at either Pleasanton high school with district enrollment topping 14,000. The Gridley schools are high performing, but the district is night-and-day compared to Pleasanton when it comes to demographics.
By contrast, San Ramon Valley tabbed Rich Schmitt, currently superintendent of the San Dieguito Union High School District serving affluent communities in northern San Diego County. He has led that district since 2013, which has six high schools as well as middle schools. The enrollment is about 12,700, way less than San Ramon Valley district that now tops 30,000 students.
Schmitt has been leading a district serving students of affluent, well-educated parents with high expectations for their children—similar economically to the San Ramon Valley.
Both men have worked in the East Bay during their careers. Schmitt started teaching social studies and worked as a vice-principal and principal in Livermore before moving to San Diego in 1999 to serve as principal of Coronado High School (imagine, principal of a school on Coronado Island.) He moved to San Dieguito in 2003 and has held position as high school principal, associate superintendent of educational services, deputy superintendent and superintendent.
Rubino previously worked as an assistant superintendent of personnel services at Martinez Unified and director of certificated personnel at Mt. Diablo Unified in Contra Costa County. He moved to the Bay Area in the 1980s and has lived in Walnut Creek with his family since 2002.
He probably will welcome the short commute to Pleasanton versus, presumably, living in Gridley during the week.
His challenge will be leading a much larger district filled with affluent families with high expectations for their children (same as the San Ramon Valley and the San Diego County area that Schmitt is moving from). Pleasanton schools rank well nationally—given the demographics that is expected. Dealing with the expectations of the parents and serving well the small minority of students who are not from affluent families are the challenges in Pleasanton.
One thing he will not have to worry about it shifting key personnel. Interim Superintendent Jim Hansen, the retired Amador Valley High principal who is leading the district this year, clearly has a mandate from the trustees to take action.
In the same meeting that Rubino was announced, new principals at both Amador Valley and Harvest Park were announced as well as a new assistant adult education director.
Amador will be led by Mike Williams after Tom Drescher took a leave of absence for the remainder of the school year. In January, Drescher had announced to the staff that he would be leaving in June, but the timetable was moved up. Williams will take over officially as principal July 1.
Chris Connor, who has been interim principal at Walnut Grove, was appointed to the position, while Beth Cutter took over the adult education position. Ironically, both replaced former Walnut Grove Principal Jan Steed. Steed took the adult education position in January and submitted her resignation in March.
The other open principal slot is at Hart where the district has announced Terry Conde will be re-assigned to another position at the end of the school year.
Parents have correctly questioned why the district seems to churn principals. Some have left for positions that are lateral, not promotions, which prompts the question Why?

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