Pixel Tracker

Sunday, November 18 , 2018, 3:32 pm | Fair with Haze 64º

 
 
 
 

Luke Ontiveros Back at Home as Santa Maria-Bonita School District Superintendent

Once a student of local schools, he wants to inspire future generations and help them become successful adults in the 'information age'

Luke Ontiveros, the new superintendent of the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, once attended schools that he now oversees. A wall in his office displays T-shirts from the district’s campuses, including one named for his great-great-great-grandfather.
Luke Ontiveros, the new superintendent of the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, once attended schools that he now oversees. A wall in his office displays T-shirts from the district’s campuses, including one named for his great-great-great-grandfather. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Luke Ontiveros credits his own teachers for inspiring his career choice. Now, he’s back in Santa Maria overseeing schools where he once sat in the classrooms as a student.

Ontiveros, 54, is the Santa Maria-Bonita School District’s new superintendent, replacing another product of the local schools, Phil Alvarado, who retired in June 2015.

“I didn’t want to do anything else,” Ontiveros told Noozhawk. “When I was in college, my goal was to teach, and I think it’s because I was influenced by so many positive teachers. I had such a great experience in school growing up in town here that it just left an impression on me.”

In fact, before he even arrived to take over the office, Ontiveros said he had mail awaiting him — a letter of congratulations from a former teacher who no longer lives in Santa Maria but was eager to welcome him back and wish him well.

“That’s somebody who had an influence on me 40-some years ago, and she’s still looking out for the well-being of her students when they’re old, gray-haired men like me,” he said.

Ontiveros most recently served as superintendent of the Snowline Joint Unified School District in Phelan, in San Bernardino County, a job he held since 2013.

That district has 8,500 students, or half as many as Santa Maria-Bonita, but Ontiveros said the issues facing the districts’ superintendents are the same.

“I think the big challenge facing Santa Maria-Bonita is what’s facing every district right now,” he said. “It’s just we have so many transformational changes occurring in education.”

Those include a new state funding formula, new accountability requirements under the Local Control and Accountability Plan, the shift to Common Core standards and new assessment tests.

“We’ve got so many changes at one time,” he said. “It’s really, how do you maintain course and focus on a strategy that has some coherence to it?”

Ontiveros said his role, especially in the early stages, will be to listen and learn about the district before deciding what needs to occur next.

Kindergartners kicking off their educational careers this fall will graduate in 2029, he noted.

“This is an information age,” he said. “Being able to utilize that information effectively is a skill for kids’ futures that we’re going to need to know because Abraham Lincoln said everything on the Internet is true.

“We’ve got to continue to work on those critical thinking skills to allow students to evaluate information in an effective, efficient manner that’s going to allow them to be successful as adults.”

Ontiveros grew up in Santa Maria and attended Santa Maria-Bonita schools — Miller Elementary, Adam Elementary and Fesler Junior High schools — in addition to St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic School. He graduated from St. Joseph High School in 1980.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Santa Clara University in 1984. He received his teaching credential from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from National University in San Diego.

His wife of 29 years, Carole, retired from education with their move. Their three children are grown, with two in college.

Among the 20 Santa Maria campuses, one has a familiar name — Ontiveros Elementary School, for the new superintendent’s great-great-great-grandfather, Juan Pacifico Ontiveros. 

“That’s pretty unique,” he said.

Taking advantage of the relatively quiet July, Ontiveros is looking forward to the first day of the new school year on Aug. 16.

“The opportunity to work with kids is what makes this all worthwhile,” he said. “I’ve never had a notion to do anything other than to work in schools.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully 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.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.