Helen Rodriguez

Helen Rodriguez

The new members of the Santa Barbara school board took their seats Tuesday night, joining new president Monique Limon, vice president Kate Parker and member Ed Heron.

Gayle Eidelson and Pedro Paz won seats on the board in the Nov. 6 election, and Heron was re-elected. They will replace outgoing board members Susan Deacon and Annette Cordero, who have served since 2008 and 2004, respectively.

The new board got to deliver good news and formally approve the 180-day school year, after Proposition 30 ensured that the district could eliminate some of the furlough days negotiated earlier this year.

Board members unanimously approved a new assistant superintendent of special education to replace Kerri Mills, who left the district earlier this year to take a job with the Mount Diablo Unified School District in Concord.

Mills guided the district through implementing the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team action plan for an overhaul of the special-education program.

Helen Rodriguez, current director of SELPA and special education for the San Bernardino City Unified School District, will join the district Jan. 7 with a salary of $130,000.

Rodriguez, who speaks fluent Spanish, received her master’s degree in educational leadership from UCLA and is working on a doctorate in the same field.

“Ms. Rodriguez is a tireless advocate for students with disabilities, and I am confident she will be able to continue the great work that Dr. Kerri Mills provided to the community,” Superintendent Dave Cash said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Helen and having her in our school district.”

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.