Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 7:52 am | Fair 37º


Cindy Olsen, Richard Chavez Named County’s Classified Employees of Year

Cindy Olsen, accountant for the Goleta Union School District, and Richard Chavez, custodian at La Patera Elementary School, have been named 2013 Santa Barbara County Classified Employees of the Year. They will be honored at a ceremony during Thursday’s meeting of the Santa Barbara County Board of Education.

Cindy Olsen
Cindy Olsen

Olsen was nominated in the office and technical category, and Chavez was nominated in the maintenance, operations and facilities category.

The county recognition is part of the California School Employee of the Year Program.

“We are very happy to take part in this program,” County Superintendent Bill Cirone said. “Each year we honor the Teacher of the Year and outstanding schools; it is fitting that we also include the school staff members who play such a key role in supporting children’s achievement, safety and health.”

To qualify, the employee must have been in the same service category for at least five years.

The nomination process started at the district level, where each district was invited to select employees from six categories, including child nutrition, maintenance/operations/facilities, transportation, para-educator/instructional assistance, office and technical, and support services and security. A county committee reviewed the nominations and selected the county’s nominees.

Olsen has been the accountant for the past 13 years at the Goleta Union School District, where she began 23 years ago as an accounting technician. Her supervisor, Assistant Superintendent of Fiscal Services Ralph Pachter, called her “one of the most beloved employees in the district” and praised not only her accounting skills but also her commitment, leadership and patience in training other employees.

“Cindy exemplifies focused effort, always meeting deadlines and prioritizing her time to ensure that critical business functions operate smoothly,” Pachter said. “This extends from maintaining district books and managing audits to monitoring site budgets, fielding many questions from site staffs and supporting other Fiscal Services staff members. Cindy retains an easy grace in this effort, and is always cheerful and helpful.”

“Cindy is someone you can count on, no matter what the situation,” accounting technician Lupie Muñoz said. “If there are deadlines to be met she will always ask if there is anything she can do to help, in spite of her own work load.”

Christine Blaney, the district’s buyer, added: “Cindy is hardworking, reliable, patient, friendly, intelligent and beyond helpful. … No job is beneath her, and you can always count on her to have the solution or answer. Cindy has an extraordinary way of taking a very difficult accounting subject and putting it into laymen terms for others who don’t understand.”

Richard Chavez
Richard Chavez

“Cindy Olsen is a superb employee — loyal, diligent, smart, ethical and compassionate,” a former colleague said. “Day in and day out, she does her job and all the little things that make the Goleta district a better place in which to work.”

Chavez has been custodian for five years at La Patera Elementary School in the Goleta Union School District. His colleagues praise his knowledge, work ethic, efficiency, dedication, leadership and interpersonal skills.

School Principal Patricia Santiago said, “Richard is an incredibly hard-working custodian. He completes tasks quickly, thoroughly, and conscientiously. He even comes to school on the weekends sometimes just to check to make sure the campus is safe and clean. He takes the initiative and foresees problems before they develop. He is always one step ahead of what needs to be done. … He is very much respected by the students and staff.”

Robert Matheny, the district’s director of operations and maintenance, added: “He understands and respects students, teachers and parents. He has received accolades from some of the school parents, a rarity for a custodian. He is a very valued member of the school community.”

Custodial Supervisor Tim Berry called him “a role model for the other custodians in the district … He takes pride in maintaining a clean, efficient school campus … Richard is a leader both at the school site and with the district custodial staff. … His commitment to the school and his job is admirable.”

— Dave Bemis is the director of communications for the Santa Barbara County Education Office.

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