Saturday, June 23 , 2018, 5:27 pm | Overcast 68º


5 Goleta Union Schools Getting New Principals Next Year

Five Goleta Union elementary schools will have a new principal this fall, a shakeup that did not go over well at Wednesday night’s board of trustees meeting.

Brandon, El Camino, Foothill, Hollister and La Patera schools are all affected by the staffing changes, which are the result of two promotions to district office positions, one resignation and two transfers to new schools.

The district is reassigning Hollister Elementary Principal Ryan Sparre to Brandon Elementary, and moving Brandon Principal Felicia Roggero to Foothill Elementary.

Pamela Rennick, coordinator of the district’s afterschool program, was promoted to principal at Hollister Elementary. She has worked at Goleta Union for 23 years and is a strong match for Hollister, Superintendent Bill Banning said.

Two principals are being promoted to district administrative positions: Foothill’s Bridget Braney will replace resigning assistant superintendent Carol Boyan-Held, and El Camino’s Liz Barnitz will come into an administrative position under Braney for director of instruction and assessment, though the title may change, Banning said.

Roggero will take over at Foothill and Sarah Bautista, a principal from Oregon, will head El Camino.

La Patera Elementary Principal Ricardo Araiza is resigning in June, and will be replaced by Sonia Arnold-Dehay, an assistant principal from Palmdale, Banning said.

There was no discussion of why Araiza resigned, but parents said they were blindsided by the news and felt that Araiza connected with and cared about the Old Town Goleta community.

The Board of Trustees approved the personnel changes on a 4-1 vote, with Luz Reyes-Martin dissenting, saying she wanted more time to consider the transfers.

Trustees were tempted to approve only the new hires and hold off on transfer decisions, but the delay would have had a ripple effect and meant leadership change announcements going out to school communities after the school year ended, Banning said.

There was intense pushback from parents regarding the transfers, with dozens from Brandon Elementary asking – and sometimes yelling at – the board not to transfer Roggero to another school.

Their frustration and anger wasn’t helped by the fact that Banning and board members couldn’t discuss specifically why the two transfers are being made, citing confidential personnel information.

The decisions were based on sound reasoning and making the district leadership structure as strong as possible, Banning said.

Board policy has administrators evaluate principals for transfer every five years, but the reassignments aren’t mandatory or that common.

He called Roggero and Sparre excellent school leaders, and told parents he and his staff carefully considered the changes before making these recommendations to the board.

They’ve both been with the district for 20 years – Sparre has been principal at Hollister for 10 years and Roggero has been principal at Brandon for six years.

Banning read a note from Roggero, who was apparently ill and couldn’t attend the meeting in person, saying she was looking forward to the new position at Foothill and working with Sparre to make a smooth transition for Brandon.

Parents openly heckled the board during the discussion, yelling that Roggero was just doing her job by writing the note and didn’t want to leave Brandon. They loudly applauded whenever the board mentioned the idea of delaying the vote.

During public comment, they asked the district why it decided to disrupt five schools instead of the three that have principals leaving, and said the change would hurt the school’s upward momentum.

Roggero is familiar with all the students and their needs, is responsive to parents, and is such a positive force families are taking their children out of private schools and other districts to attend Brandon, parents said.

Banning reiterated his recommendations to the board after public comment, and said the decisions were not made lightly but are “for the sake of the school district and building the web of leadership capacity that we need at every school.”  

In a statement, he said:

“Principal transfers are not unusual actions in GUSD or other districts. The practice of transferring principals is authorized by Board Policy 4314 which suggests the superintendent consider moves of principals who have been at one site for five or more years. Such moves are not automatic or required. 

“According to the policy, the basic intent of this practice is to 'enhance professional growth and thereby improve the quality of education in district schools.' In addition it 'reinforces the concept that principals have management duties and responsibilities that extend beyond one school and that principals incur a commitment to the total district.'

“I support the intent of the Board Policy and considered many factors in selecting Ryan Sparre of Hollister School and Felicia Roggero of Brandon School for transfer this year. Both are excellent school leaders and meet the criteria outlined in the policy section headed Periodic Transfers of Principals. I am confident that the students, families, and staff of Foothill School and Brandon School will be well served by their leadership.”

The approved staffing changes for the 2016-17 school year include principal changes for the following schools:

» Brandon Elementary: Principal Felicia Roggero is being reassigned to another school and being replaced by Hollister Principal Ryan Sparre.

» El Camino: Liz Barnitz is moving to the district office for an administrative position and being replaced by Sarah Bautista, who is new to the district.

» Foothill: Bridget Braney is moving to the district office for an administrative position and being replaced by Brandon Principal Felicia Roggero.

» Hollister: Ryan Sparre is being reassigned to another school and being replaced by the district’s afterschool program coordinator Pamela Rennick.

» La Patera: Ricardo Araiza is resigning in June and being replaced by Sonia Arnold-Dehay, who is new to the district.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli 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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