Four new principals are joining the Santa Barbara Unified School District this year and will take over schools that have struggled with administrative turnover the past several years.
Superintendent Dave Cash introduced them at his annual back-to-school news conference Tuesday and talked about the district-wide implementation of the new Common Core State Standards and assessment tools starting this year.
The Board of Education has already gone through its first year of the new Local Control Funding Formula and accountability plan, which requires much more community outreach into funding decisions.
These “are not only changes in how we do business, but huge changes in what we value, what we believe in and how we will continue to support students,” Cash said.
Students will start school Aug. 27, and the four new principals talked briefly about their plans for the coming year.
Veronica Binkley recently served as assistant principal at Juan Lagunas Soria School in Oxnard and worked as an elementary school teacher and education consultant.
She was a consultant for Harding University Partnership School’s primary years program and will now join the school as principal.
“It truly is a lifelong dream of mine to be an administrator at an International Baccalaureate school,” she said Tuesday.
She’s already met with most of the teachers, who have worked to integrate Common Core State Standards into the school’s inquiry-based learning programs.
Harding already partners with UC Santa Barbara and will be joining with Dos Pueblos High School’s IB program this coming year, she said. Binkley also plans to get community members and parents more involved.
Sierra Loughridge worked on child development and afterschool programs for the district and will now take over Washington Elementary School.
Outgoing principal Anne Hubbard gave her a quick training and Loughridge is excited to be participating in the iPad pilot program, which is being tested in four schools.
She also asked for her school to be included in the new restorative approaches discipline program.
“I firmly believe that is going to revolutionize the classroom community and the culture of our schools because it gives every student and all stakeholders a chance to be heard,” she said. “It teaches children how to communicate and work through issues, and it really is all about respect and taking responsibility and making things right in your community — so I’m very, very excited to be at Washington.”
Jacqueline Mora will take over as principal at McKinley Elementary and brings experience from school districts in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Glendale.
She received two bachelor’s degrees from UCSB in Chicano studies and Spanish so she has a local connection, Cash said.
Her first priority is to learn about the school and support the students, teachers and parents.
“I think it’s really to assess where we are as a school and how I can support that work," she said.
Open Alternative School is getting Colleen Million, a longtime local educator who has worked in the Goleta Union School District, as executive director of Santa Ynez Valley Charter School and at Antioch University, Cash said.
As a child, she attended La Colina Junior High School — where the OAS campus is located — and graduated from Santa Barbara High School.
“The school has gone through a lot of transitions the last seven years I would say, and my first goal is really to establish relationships and trust and go forward from there, and to bring us into the 21st century,” Million said.
The new standards fit in well with the alternative education teaching context, and teachers are excited to be able to take more creative approaches to lessons, she said.
District leaders have the same goals for the coming year as the last three years: to implement the new standards, integrate technology into learning, and creating culturally-proficient classrooms and schools.
His administrative staff has hired more than 85 new certificated staff members for the coming year, added to more than 70 last year and about 50 the year before.
“We have a very new and different teaching staff in our schools,” he said, noting that the majority of new faculty members are first-time teachers.
Among the new hires are 19 elementary school teachers, 14 special education teachers, 11 math teachers, seven science teachers, five English teachers, five Spanish teachers, five psychologists, five counselors and two music teachers.
Many of the elementary school teachers are returning to the community where they were students, Cash added.
The district has worked to increase the number of bilingual and bicultural certificated staff members and Cash said this group has the highest percentage of Spanish-speaking hires in a single year so far.
Santa Barbara Unified is expanding its restorative approaches discipline program to all secondary schools and three elementary schools for the fall semester and making sure the rules are being implemented consistently.
Depending on the results, the program could be expanded district-wide next year.
“We’ll make sure that there’s no mistake from classroom to classroom, from school to school in what restorative approaches is and how it gets accomplished,” Cash said.