Friday, January 28, 2022     Volume: 22, Issue: 48

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on December 1st, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 22, Issue 40 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 22, Issue 40

Teachers union concerned about Santa Maria-Bonita superintendent search

By Taylor O'Connor

Santa Maria-Bonita School District Superintendent Luke Ontiveros is retiring at the end of December, and the district plans to have his replacement hired for the 2022-23 academic school year. 

The school board approved a consulting firm’s timeline for the search and hiring process at a recent board meeting, including collecting input through a public survey as the school board’s first step, board President Linda Cordero said. 

The Leadership Associates proposed timeline during the Nov. 10 meeting, which was approved by the Santa Maria-Bonita School Board on Nov. 17.

“It will be the most comprehensive process in terms of gathering public input. It will be very interesting to look at what the desires are of not only our staff across the district, but our parents as well as from various community members because everyone has access to it,” Cordero said. 

This year’s public input process is more thorough than in previous years because of the many changes districts had to face during COVID-19 and a changed social climate, Cordero said. 

“We’ve always included our staff across the board, but we are really reaching out deeper into our community now,” she said. 

The school board is looking for a superintendent who is knowledgeable about California laws and requirements, someone who has experience dealing with the pandemic, and someone who has a vision for achieving student success as well as a strong way to guide that process, Cordero added. 

“We have a long, challenging road [ahead], there’s no doubt about it. The number of non-English speaking students increases every year. That is a challenge, to help them learn to read and try to get them to grade level so they can experience success in our system,” she said. “We are seeing a little bit more diversity, and I expect that will continue.” 

But the Santa Maria Elementary Education Association (SMEEA) is concerned about the road ahead, SMEEA President José Segura said. 

“On the surface, there seems to be a well-established relationship between the association and the district when it comes to input and decision-making, but digging deeper you will find that’s not what happens,” Segura said. 

He said that some school board decisions were pre-made, without discussion with the association, in the past and worries this pattern may continue with the superintendent input process.

“We don’t select the superintendent, but we are advocating for input by the association into the process. We work with the consulting group the district hired to search for the superintendent; we really want to be included in field searches, [and] interviews with top tier candidates,” Segura said. 

SMEEA wants to see a superintendent from a district similar to Santa Maria-Bonita or larger, who has with K-8 experience and a background in working relationships with unions, Segura said. 

“There’s so many different areas teachers have a role in; as an association we are trying to make sure there’s teachers’ voices in where decisions are being made,” he added. 

Segura said teachers also have worries about the speed of the superintendent search with job descriptions going out before winter break and closing applications due by Jan. 20. 

“They want to make sure they have access to all the highest quality candidates out there prior to them taking positions elsewhere,” he said. “I don’t buy that; it sounds like they are trying to grab candidates running from something, rather than toward something. I believe [if] folks are qualified and committed to coming to our area, we would be OK waiting for a month or two so the process could be realized.” 

School board President Cordero said she understands the association’s concerns, and couldn’t say whether the association planned a specific opportunity to express themselves. 

“I can appreciate that people are feeling some stress about making the kinds of changes that we are looking [for]; it is a lot,” she said. “We do want to facilitate that in the best way possible and allow enough time for our staff to make those adaptations.” 

The survey is open until Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. on, and is available in Spanish or English. People who want to take the survey in Mixtec can call the Office of Family Management at (805) 361-8117. The school board will begin a profile and a job description for potential candidates once survey data is compiled. 

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