Butte County school chief named new Pleasanton school superintendent

School board also names new Amador Valley High, Walnut Grove principals

Personnel movements dominated Tuesday night's school board meeting, with a new superintendent announced, two new principals appointed and some classified staff layoffs announced.

Rick Rubino was named as Pleasanton's new superintendent after a five-month search that looked at administrators from across the U.S. However, the board hasn't yet approved his contract, which is the last logistical and legal hurdle before he can begin work.

Rubino, superintendent at Gridley Unified in Butte County for the past four years, is expected to start as the new superintendent July 1, but he's no stranger to the East Bay.

Rubino, 63, 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 said he was drawn to the Pleasanton Unified School District due to its stellar reputation, involved community and the district's desire to integrate more technology into the learning process.

"This is the most exciting time in public education in 100 years," Rubino said in an interview after his appointment.

The move is contingent on the board approving Rubino's contract, which includes his salary. The vote on that contract was moved to the board's May meeting because the contract needs to be included in the board packet for public examination before approval, and it wasn't ready in time for Tuesday's meeting.

The district was searching for a new superintendent after former superintendent Parvin Ahmadi resigned in June to become Castro Valley's superintendent. Interim superintendent Jim Hansen will continue to lead the district until July while Rubino wraps up the school year in Gridley.

"It's tough shoes to fill, but he's surrounded by an incredible team," board member Chris Grant said of Rubino.

The board also named Amador Valley vice principal Michael Williams as interim principal, effective immediately while current principal Tom Drescher takes a leave of absence until his resignation becomes effective June 30. Williams will become the permanent principal as of July 1.

Drescher had announced his resignation in January, and he has been on leave on and off since Spring Break. District spokesman Patrick Gannon said he couldn't comment on the nature of Drescher's absence, and Drescher did not respond to multiple phone, email and in-person requests to clarify the duration and reasons behind his absence.

Retired Pleasanton Middle principal John Whitney joined the Amador Valley staff in March as an interim vice principal "to provide additional support to the current administration team" until June 30, Gannon said.

Walnut Grove interim principal Chris Connor was named the school's permanent principal. Connor has been interim principal since January after former principal Jan Steed was promoted to a district-level position, later resigning from that job.

The Pleasanton Unified board also announced Beth Cutter as the district's new assistant director of adult education, Steed's prior position. Cutter was most recently a vice principal at Walnut Grove, was a vice principal in Livermore Valley Joint Unified for two years and was previously a science teacher at Amador Valley, according to the district.

The board also voted to eliminate 19.5 full-time equivalent classified positions due to a gap in one-time funding that was fueling those positions, but district staff said they'll have a clearer picture of which jobs they'll be able to keep after the state budget is revised in May. If fundraisers or state funding come through, some pink slips could be rescinded.

"We're going to do everything we can to bring the positions back," board member Valerie Arkin said. "We don't take any of this lightly."

The decision will either lead to reduced hours or layoffs for some library assistants, custodians, technology specialists, a lead support specialist, an office assistant and a coordinator of maintenance services.

The district's elementary string and band program was also reduced due to this funding gap, and some of those teachers have already received pink slips, said Dianne Howell, assistant superintendent of human resources.

"Music is one of those rare things that transcends language, economics, backgrounds or race," said parent liaison Susana Lopez-Krulevitch. "Please save the fifth-grade band and strings program."

Board members said they decided to approve layoff notices Tuesday night because these particular jobs require a 60-day layoff notice, and having an end date after the start of the district's financial year on July 1 could set an untenable legislative precedent, board members said.

During public comment, several attendees noted Vintage Hills physical education teacher Terri Drain was named the district's 2016 Teacher of the Year and praised her hard work.

A teacher at Vintage Hills for 17 years, she has also taught at Alisal and Fairlands elementary and was the physical education department head at a Vancouver school before moving to the Bay Area.

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10 people like this
Posted by Willams
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Apr 19, 2016 at 11:21 pm

We moved to Pleasanton four years ago. In that time it seems like every school in the district has had their principal replaced. Is there always this much movement of staff in this school district?

7 people like this
Posted by Revolving Door
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 20, 2016 at 9:00 am

Only in the last 6 years.

6 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Ironwood
on Apr 20, 2016 at 9:15 am

Past six years was a Classic tension between teachers union and administration.
Hopefully the new super is committed and not coming here only for the salary and benefits.
Hopefully also, self appointed parent watch dogs won't criticize every move and add to the tension.
, Pleasanton schools still rank the tops in the State so we should not forget that fact.

47 people like this
Posted by Sal
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 20, 2016 at 9:17 am

Best of luck to Mr. Rubino but I fear a minority of right-wing locals will make his job very difficult. These are the same people that ran our last superintendent out of town over a principal that was rightfully fired. They knew Varnesh was innocent because they met him a couple times and had a window into his soul. A court of law proved them dead wrong of course. Also, this same vocal minority will bully the district over petty issues, create fake controversies, and cheap out on parcel taxes and bonds because they are myopic don't value public education. They want to cheap out on our schools and will nitpick and use lame justification for their cheapskate mentality. [removed because it was unfounded and inflammatory]

6 people like this
Posted by question
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 20, 2016 at 9:40 am

I do not understand the reduction in staff of education when we have SO MUCH BUILDING going on and it brings tax money to the city. What are we doing wrong with the money received?

63 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 20, 2016 at 9:52 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sal, those are some pretty amazing accusations. The case of Vranesh was handled poorly and cost the district a lot of money and put a good school and it's students in free fall. The people who questioned bond refinancing were proven to be correct in a public meeting five years ago. The parcel taxes were a money grab with no specifics as to how the funds would be spent, so they failed when put to a vote.

I welcome Mr. Rubino, an experienced superintendent. My understanding is both principals are also very good choices. So as a former Walnut Grove mom and grandparent of a fall freshman at Amador, I look forward to supporting all of them and this district.

4 people like this
Posted by AlamedaCountyNative
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Apr 20, 2016 at 10:08 am

Pleasanton school super is the perfect job. We give you a lot of money with absolutely no expectations of success or accomplishments. You can stay here, do nothing, bank thousands and move on to another job. It just doesn't get any better. So good luck Mr Rubino.

7 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Apr 20, 2016 at 10:45 am

[Removed because it was off topic]

30 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 20, 2016 at 10:48 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sal, again with accusations you cannot back up. So let me fill you in. We have been in Pleasanton for over 30 years (with a brief detour to Texas). Our three children attended public schools here. We have a grandchildren in public schools. Our family volunteered, helped with unification of the district, helped pass the first two bonds, and I worked for 15 years here (including as a board member) and in PAUSD. We did a lot of fundraising. We have donated generously to individual schools and teachers, as promised, when the parcel taxes didn't pass--precisely because we very much value the education available in this community. With specificity, I would support a bond or parcel tax. You are welcome to not like me or to disagree with me, but you cannot ignore the facts.

You want properly funded schools? Better check in with Sacramento. THEY determine how districts are funded.

15 people like this
Posted by Union must go
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2016 at 11:11 am

Hopefully the new superintendent will put a stop to all the lies of the union members at Walnut Grove that ousted the custodian, many principals (not just Vranesh), in order for a few to collect hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars as settlements. Those like "Sal" have reduced the reputation of PUSD to where it is now.

Principals at most schools have turned over two to five times since 2010. And it is no wonder. Time to stamp out the Association of Pleasanton Teachers in Pleasanton schools.

44 people like this
Posted by Sal
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 20, 2016 at 11:15 am

[Removed because it was disrespectful and off topic]

23 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 20, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

[Removed because it was off topic and referred to a removed post]

42 people like this
Posted by Lessismore
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 20, 2016 at 12:51 pm

TO Sal

You are joking about your comments, and you wanted us all to laugh correct. Or did Ahmadi give you a job?

Varnesh situation was handled so poorly by her office she should take a hit for it. It's not about right or wrong it was handled poorly by her office.

The calender changes were her idea. It's not about the calendar changes being right or wrong it was handled poorly under her leadership.

Good people will follow good leaders. I lost track of how many principals left PUSD under her leadership.

You call it prejudice. Maybe you need to step back and check a few of your facts and stop making it personal. It's about our kids and town, and effective leader is no longer at PUSD that is all.

12 people like this
Posted by Union must go
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2016 at 2:10 pm

The first order of business for the new superintendent should be to close the toxic Walnut Grove elementary, sell it off as surplus property, so a decent private school can be located there.

The private school can hire decent teachers that teach, its own principal [removed]

The private school can hire a staff of professional educators that don't falsely accuse long term employees such as custodians of engaging in threatening behavior, as it has done twice in the last few years.

Closing the school means that the entire WG staff can be released. Until that happens, the hysterical drama at that site will continue for years to come/

63 people like this
Posted by Notarightwinger
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Notarightwinger is a registered user.

First of all, Vranesh was not or has ever been convicted of a crime or even reported to the police for a crime. Saying it over and over on the internet does not make it the truth.

How that whole situation was handled was ridiculous! Publically available court documents show that the teachers who were paid out were paid because the district (that Parvin was in charge of at the time) did not protect their identities by posting improperly redacted "investigative reports". To make matters worse, at the time Parvin released a press release saying they were paid out because of Vranesh - which was clearly a lie - when the bulk of their complaint was the PUSD not protecting their identities. So it would seem that Parvin didn't act in the best interests of her teachers either?

As for Parvin being "run" off by right wingers. That's just delusional. Are you saying that some right wing folks got together and forced her to apply for a new job that pays more and is closer to her home? That's far fetched.

Kathleen - Please ignore the troll. I enjoy your thoughtful comments and Pleasanton has a good school system because of people like you. Thank you.

Like this comment
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

Kathleen, I agree, ignore Sal. Even though I often disagree with you, you know far more about education than almost anyone I know, and you are the rare soul who posts under your own name. Until Sal states his full name and becomes a registered user, don't bother with his comments.

@ Pleasanton parent, "Not only are parents yanking their kids out in record numbers ..." Can you back this up with facts? I know of a few who have left, but I know of far more that are coming to Pleasanton and want to get into Pleasanton schools.

@ Union must go, "Principals at most schools have turned over two to five times since 2010. And it is no wonder. Time to stamp out the Association of Pleasanton Teachers in Pleasanton schools."
I am so tired of this false accusation that the APT is the reason for the high administration turnover that occurred for a few years (which was a natural occurrence, and has abated). APT tried to get rid of one principal a couple years back, and failed. NONE of the principals leaving had anything to do with APT (let's not count Vranesh, as there are many ways to interpret that).

14 people like this
Posted by Gina Channell, Publisher
president of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Apr 21, 2016 at 11:17 am

Gina Channell, Publisher is a registered user.

Because the conversation was reduced to name calling and an online argument between two or three posters, I have closed this thread.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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