The new year will bring challenges, uncertainty and opportunity.
Pleasanton will start the year with its school superintendent, Rick Rubino, on paid administrative leave while an unspecified "personnel matter" is investigated. He hasn't been in the role a full six months.
Administrative turnover and instability has been a concern for at least the past three years. It's difficult to believe, but it has become considerably worse within the past 18 months or so.
The Pleasanton school district is on its fourth leader since June 2015, with deputy superintendent of business services Micaela Ochoa taking the helm in the short-term with Rubino on leave. There have been new principals at eight of the district's 15 schools, including three at Harvest Park Middle School alone, in that time-frame.
The school board's newest member, Steve Maher, a retired district principal, acknowledged the turnover at the top during his campaign last fall. He told voters he wanted to join the board to help "stop the revolving door of principals, staff and district office personnel."
This churn directly affects everyone -- students, parents, district employees and residents.
Last month, Pleasanton residents resoundingly passed the $270 million school facilities bond measure, which we endorsed because it is sorely needed and it had been 20 years since Pleasanton voters passed a school bond measure. While none of the bond funds go to the expense of administrator turnover (legal fees, contract buyouts and the like), passing bond and parcel tax measures require trust of those in charge. In this case, it is the school board.
The board stated it wanted to begin reviewing the district's hiring practices in January. More than just the hiring practices need to be reviewed. Hiring quality administrators is one thing, but we need to retain them too.
We encourage the board to look for all the root causes of this churn and instability, put in place specific, measurable goals for change and keep the community informed. Action and transparency are key to earning trust.
This is an opportunity for the school board to build back the trust of the public and prove to voters they made a good choice retaining two incumbents and voting in Maher.