Goleta Union School District Superintendent Donna Lewis plans to step down at the end of the school year.
Goleta Union School District Superintendent Donna Lewis plans to step down at the end of the school year. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Goleta Union School District Superintendent Donna Lewis plans to retire in July, the school board announced on Wednesday.

The panel moved swiftly to begin the process of hiring her replacement.

The board voted unanimously to enter a contract with Leadership Associates for $25,500 to find a new superintendent. 

The district plans to release a survey Jan. 21 to get public input on what parents want to see in a superintendent. The firm plans to recruit and identify potential candidates in February, verify candidates in March and conduct interviews on April 3.

The board is expected to vote on April 28, and the new superintent will in start in July.

According to the contract, if the new superintendent leaves within one year of hiring, Leadership Associates will conduct a new search at no cost except for travel and advertising expenses.

“We have worked with Leadership Associates successfully for at least the past two recruitments, so we are really glad that they are available,” board president Luz Reyes-Martin said.

Lewis was hired in the spring of 2017. She replaced Bill Banning, who was superintendent for five years.

COVID-19 Update

Santa Barbara County’s COVID-19 case count looks to have thwarted any immediate plans for children to return to school.

“It’s here,” Lewis said. “It’s definitely here and haunting us, just like it is everywhere else.”

Lewis said that two Goleta district employees from separate school sites have tested postive for COVID-19. 

“They did not catch it from school,” Lewis said. “It is from other community exposure.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced that a new plan — discarding the previous colored tier system — would bring students from transitional kindergarten to sixth grade back to school by Feb. 16, but Lewis said that date is unrealistic. The plan calls for legislative approval and school plans for testing employees.

“It is going to be a major undertaking to get agreement that quickly,” said David Simmons, assistant superintendent of human resources.

Lewis agreed. 

“I think the turnaround time that the legislature is going to approve all of this and that we would have paperwork turned in by Feb. 1 seems really unrealistic,” she said, “and that two weeks later we would have kids back in school is really unrealistic, and probably not even possible in this county because of our case rate count being so darn high.”

Santa Barbara County’s adjusted case rate stands at 38.3 per 100,000 population.

“You can only bet that by the time they adjust for what is happening after Christmas and New Year’s, that adjusted case rate is going to keep going up; it is not going to be going down anytime soon,” Lewis said. “We are going in the opposite direction of where we need to be.”

Still, she said the district should continue its plan for reopening, including testing and being ready to act once the legislature gives the OK.

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at jmolina@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.