WSCUHSD board gets new interim superintendent and official school colors

By Camille Escovedo, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, February 11, 2022

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As the semester turns toward spring, the West Sonoma County Union High School District (WSCUHSD) will continue with its tried and true school colors and a new interim superintendent to guide the district to the year’s end.

School board trustees unanimously approved an employment agreement between WSCUHSD and Eric Hoppes as the district’s next interim superintendent at their recent Feb. 9 board meeting. The board also passed a daily pay rate of $600 for an interim superintendent to be included in the auxiliary salary schedule.

“I’m very excited to work with the West Sonoma County Union High School District and the community as a whole,” he said. “Thirty-eight years in education before I retired, 36 down at Petaluma and had many a tight contest in basketball against El Mo and Analy, so I know a little bit of history here.”

Hoppes will arrive on the scene the first of March and stay until the end of June, according to Mia Del Prete, the district’s director of human resources. Donald Evans has served as the district’s short-term superintendent following Toni Beal’s removal and will continue doing so until the end of February.

Del Prete found Hoppes on a working list of retired administrators provided by John Laughlin, associate superintendent of Sonoma County Office of Education’s (SCOE) human resources department.

Del Prete said the former superintendents all had other commitments with schools, family and vacation, but Hoppes reached back out later to tell her he’d be available by March 1 after attending to family obligations.

She and Board President Patrick Nagle met with Hoppes to discuss the district’s needs and learned from him and others that he’s skilled at communication and relationship-building and enjoys being on campus and attending extracurricular activities.

He’s assisted as interim superintendent at school districts four times before, supporting their recruitment, hiring and transition to new leadership, and his resume also includes ten years as an elementary school principal-superintendent, Hoppes said.

Hustling to recruit a lasting superintendent

After trustees and district figures welcomed Hoppes to the high school district, Del Prete presented a superintendent recruitment timeline. Trustee Kellie Noe pointed out that the mid-April dates for final interviews overlap with Good Friday and Passover and the director agreed to revise the calendar accordingly.

Del Prete said the district is going for a fast-paced recruitment process, having learned recently that both the Old Adobe Union School District and Bellevue Union School District are looking for a superintendent, too.

So far, the calendar dictates that the position must be posted on the district’s website, EdJoin, EdCal, CASBO and ACSA by Feb. 16. Recruitment brochures must also be sent to Napa, Lake, Mendocino, Solano and Marin counties, the North Coast region, county offices of education, district offices and high school principals by then.

That same day, staff must start assigning members to the paper screening, selection advisory and site visit committees. The timeline marks March 31 as the deadline for potential candidates to send in their application packets via EdJoin. The paper screening committee would go through them from March 30 to April 3.

The paper screening committee is scheduled to meet April 4 to choose which candidates to advance for a selection advisory committee interview and Del Prete would begin scheduling those interviews by April 6, per the document. From there, she and Nagle will begin checking references.

Interviews are generally slated for the week of April 11 to 16, with some dates to be rescheduled because they interfere with the holiday weekend.

Del Prete stated the paper-screening committee will have seven members, including a superintendent from Sonoma County, a current site administrator, a trustee, two certificated staff employees, a classified staff member and a confidential staff member.

The selection advisory committee shall include a student, a parent or community member, two site administrators, a trustee, two certificated staff members, one classified employee, the district’s chief business officer and its director of facilities, maintenance and operations.

The board of trustees comprise the final interview committee, Del Prete said. She confirmed for Vice President Jeanne Fernandes that Hoppes could join the paper-screening committee. He easily agreed, although Leah Woody of the College & Career Center shared her uncertainty about how familiar he may be with the district community and, therefore, his participation on the committee.

Colors of compromise

While the future of district leadership remains unclear, one thing’s for sure: the official colors of the comprehensive high school shall be red, blue and gray.

Sported since consolidation, the board voted 4-1 that these colors are to permanently represent the school. Board Vice President Jeanne Fernandes cast the dissenting vote after she suggested the school colors to be red, blue and black.

Nagle explained that one of the district’s athletic directors brought up the need for an established color scheme so they could order fall sports uniforms in good time.

By and large, the district community in attendance supported keeping those colors — the blue for Analy High School and the red for El Molino High School — or suggested similar variations, like red, blue, black and white.

Sophomore Karis Morasch responded to a comment from the board about finding a better way to get more student and community input, “We, the students, have consistently told you what we want and how we feel about consolidation, about the name change, yet board members consistently ignore our voices when they don’t align with the board’s views.”

Morasch described “school spirit on a level I’ve never seen before,” at the school’s first football game of the year and added, “It’ll take more than just colors to preserve the culture that we worked so hard to build, but keeping the colors we’ve grown to love is the first step in listening to your students.”

“I believe the students definitely have adapted to this new identity at school and like they said, the least we could do is keep the colors and represent both communities and both schools,” said student representative Dylan Peña Pérez.

West County High School is still slated to take on the Analy name, and while mascots weren’t on the agenda, some community members advocated that the students stay tigers. Earlier, athletic co-director and leadership teacher Mike Roan asked for a future discussion on mascots, recommending the lion so the process doesn’t essentially prove El Molino is closing and Analy is staying.

This article was produced by SoCoNews. See more news at soconews.org