Pleasanton Weekly

News - June 4, 2010

Amador Valley parents, staff discuss what they want in a new principal

District plans to have finalist selected by June 22

by Glenn Wohltmann

Staff and parents of Amador Valley students want much the same things in an incoming principal to replace retiring Principal Bill Coupe Jr.: Someone who's visible, collaborative and can help teachers be their best. Parents joked they wouldn't mind someone who was independently wealthy and would be willing to work for free, either.

The school district held two forums recently seeking input, one with staff and a second with parents. Assistant Superintendent Bill Faraghan led the meetings, asking parents and staff three questions: What's working well at Amador; what are some of the challenges, and what are the characteristics you want in a new leader.

Much of what parents said was positive. Al Cohen, for instance, praised vice principals at the school.

"First of all, they're young. It helps in this day and age to be able to relate to the students," he said.

A number of parents agreed that Coupe's leadership has brought the school's former "wild west" atmosphere under control, and they like that he's accessible to students, parents and staff.

The group agreed they'd like a principal who's collaborative with parents, especially parent volunteers they envision picking up slack as the school cuts staff.

They also think bullying at the school remains a problem. Most pointed out the recent death of a young girl as an example of how prevalent that can be.

Parents want a new principal who can connect with kids immediately, and one who listens to parents but stands up for staff -- "someone who can say 'no' to parents in a positive way" when their demands are unreasonable, said one of the parents.

School Board Member Jamie Hintzke wants a new principal to focus on staff development.

"It would be nice to have somebody who works with poor teachers, either helping them get better or get rid of them," Hintzke said. Most parents agreed.

They'd also like a new principal to be involved in activities, attending events like football games and band concerts.

Faraghan said the plan is to have candidates iinterviewed by a group of 10 to 12 people, with two to four selected for interviews with the Superintendent's Cabinet.

"The end goal is to try to get a finalist to the board meeting on June 22," he said.

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