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Rural School District Near Santa Maria Terminates Superintendent

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

The superintendent of a rural school district east of Santa Maria was let go from the post this week, nearly a year after she was placed on paid administrative leave.

The Blochman Union School District Board of Trustees, which governs the 140-student Sisquoc district, voted 5-0 on Tuesday night to terminate the contract of four-year Superintendent Kristin Garrison-Lima “by mutual agreement,” according to a settlement signed by both parties.

Garrison-Lima was placed on paid leave on Feb. 23, 2012, after receiving a letter from the board.

The district has not said why the superintendent was put on leave, and the settlement didn’t clue Garrison-Lima into that fact either, according to her attorney, Barry Bennett of Fresno-based Bennett & Sharpe Inc. Attorneys at Law.

“We’ve been talking for a long time about what to do with this,” he said. “We had no idea what their problem is, and they still don’t.”

Board president Shannon Clay told Noozhawk on Wednesday that the board and superintendent had reached an agreement to part ways, but she would not elaborate further.

According to a copy of the settlement agreement, the district paid Garrison-Lima a lump sum of $30,000 to terminate her half-time contract before its end on June 30, 2014.

The superintendent, who was making $60,834.60 a year, was not dismissed for cause and neither party admitted fault, according to the agreement.

Garrison-Lima’s original contract outlined that a termination without cause would entitle her to be paid her contract or 18 months of salary, whichever was less.

Clay said the board has not yet determined whether to hire another superintendent or continue allowing Principal Doug Brown to perform some superintendent duties.

“We’re just engaging in the future,” she said. “As these things are, I cannot give comment further.”

Bennett said he is hopeful that signing the settlement will make it easier for Garrison-Lima to gain employment, which she has been unable to do without closure.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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» on 01.17.13 @ 12:13 PM

Why do we have 140 student school districts with all the administartive costs associated with a district.  What a waste of resources.  Can’t these districts merge and reduce costs and put more resources where they belong - in the classroom?  And isn’t Sisquoc east of SM, not west?

» on 01.17.13 @ 01:07 PM

From their website, it appears the district has a small regular K-8 school of 140 students, and two larger charter schools. The total number of students in all three schools is about 900. Odd. The schools are on Foxen Canyon Rd. near Santa Maria.

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