Superintendent Mary Shelton has announced her retirement from the San Ramon Valley Unified School District effective June 30, capping a 32-year career in education, including the last four leading the valley's public school system.
"Since 2012, it has been my honor and privilege to serve the students, staff, parents and community of San Ramon Valley Unified as your Superintendent. So it is with bittersweet excitement that I announce my retirement from the District," Shelton wrote in an email to district parents Wednesday.
"I am looking forward to moving closer to family and spending time with my children and three grandchildren," she said, adding that she plans to move to Texas in July.
The SRVUSD school board has scheduled a special meeting for noon Friday in the district boardrooms in Danville to consider selecting search firm Leadership Associates to lead the recruitment of a new superintendent, according to the meeting agenda released Thursday morning.
The board members' discussion Friday will center on whether to authorize district staff to begin negotiating the terms of a possible contract with Leadership Associates, according to district spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich. The proposed agreement would head to the board for approval at a future meeting.
In her retirement message, Shelton expressed "heartfelt thanks" to the entire school community, but reserved her "biggest thank you" for the school board members. "They make me so proud to work for such an honorable, dedicated and thoughtful group," she said.
"I am ready to start a new chapter in my life, but I leave behind one of the best teams of educators I have ever had the honor to work with," Shelton said. "We are truly blessed in this valley to have dedicated educators, supportive, engaged parents and a community that truly values education and makes it a priority."
She added, "Please know that I leave with immense gratitude and admiration for this district and all who contribute to its success. The district is in good hands."
School board member Denise Jennison described Shelton as a "wonderful leader" who will be "greatly missed."
"Mary successfully led us through the transition to the Common Core State Standards," Jennison said in an email Thursday afternoon. "Under her guidance, we emerged as leaders in the State in terms of our preparedness of both our students and our staff, as well as our technology."
Jennison also praised Shelton's efforts with peer-to-peer professional development and implementing culturally and linguistically responsive teaching practices.
"Mary has worked to build a culture of true collaboration where parents, students, educators and the community partner in the best interests of doing what is right for kids. Her legacy will be felt through these and many other contributions to this district," the board member added.
Shelton joined the SRVUSD in July 2012, coming to the valley after serving as chief accountability officer at the Sacramento City Unified School District.
She led the San Ramon Valley district while it adjusted to new state education standards and funding formula and introduced comprehensive teaching strategies focused on helping all students succeed in the classroom. District voters also passed a $260 million facilities bond measure and renewed the $144 local education parcel tax during Shelton's tenure.
The SRVUSD website notes that a robust "Response to Intervention" program, culturally responsive teaching strategies and full integration of inclusive practices for students in all schools occurred under her watch.
The district also saw its student population continue to grow to unprecedented levels. Enrollment jumped 4.5% during Shelton's four years, rising from 30,757 students in fall 2012 to 32,133 students at the start of this school year.
As it works to replace Shelton, the SRVUSD could well find itself competing against neighboring districts along the Interstate 680 corridor in the Tri-Valley.
Pleasanton Unified is the middle of its process to find a new superintendent after its former leader resigned to move to Castro Valley Unified starting last July. Retired Amador Valley High principal Jim Hansen came out of retirement to serve as interim Pleasanton superintendent until a permanent leader is hired.
Then last month, Dublin Unified superintendent Stephen Hanke announced he would be retiring at the end of the current school year.
"The education industry and the SRVUSD, specifically, face tremendous challenges in the coming years," Jennison said ahead of the superintendent search.
"The board is going to be diligent in its search to find a candidate who meets the needs of our education community," she added. "We will be soliciting input from all stakeholders about what is important to them in a leader and we will be executing a search to find the best possible candidate."