Monday was the first day of school for Bill Banning, the Goleta Union School District’s new superintendent, who has spent the last two months getting oriented with the district’s schools and the community.
Banning said he has big shoes to fill following the departure of Kathy Boomer, who retired after seven years with the district.
It’s always been his goal to be a superintendent, Banning said, and Goleta shares a lot in common with his previous district in Solana Beach.
He and his wife, Becky, often visited the South Coast, Banning said, and heard positive things about the school community.
“When I told my mentor that I was applying here, he said, ‘Wow, whoever gets that job is one lucky person,’” Banning said.
After meeting with teachers, classified employees, nonprofit groups and other district leaders all summer, he said it’s nice to see the schools in action this week as students head back to class.
Banning served as assistant superintendent and human services director in the Solana Beach School District, and has always had the career goal of becoming a superintendent.
His wife still lives down south but is looking for a job to relocate to the South Coast, Banning said. They have a 24-year-old daughter who lives in Los Angeles.
He calls Goleta Union’s nine-school district a “perfect size” with a family feel.
Large districts can do economies of scale and small ones are great at multitasking: Goleta Union combines those, so administrators all help each other instead of being pigeon-holed into doing just one thing, he said.
“It’s easy to get lost in too big a system and overwhelmed in too small a system,” he noted.
While every district in California struggles with budget cuts, Goleta Union is better off than many, both financially and academically, because of hard work by teachers, staff and Boomer’s leadership, Banning said.
There are still cuts though, and even basic-aid districts don’t have the money to keep doing what they have been doing in the past, he added.
“It’s always difficult when money’s tight to keep morale up …” he said. “It’s part of my goal to establish really strong listening relationships with teachers and classified employees.”