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Pleasanton chooses new school superintendent

Original post made on Apr 29, 2010

In a search that's lasted nearly six months, Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD) has selected its next superintendent to replace John Casey when he retires June 30.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, April 29, 2010, 11:45 AM

Comments (24)

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 29, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Who was on the panel? Did we have parents like Al Cohen, community leaders like someone from the Chamber of Commerce?

Posted by Panel, a resident of Stoneridge
on Apr 29, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Also important, did the Board actually listen to the input of the panel?

Posted by Henny Penny, a resident of Danbury Park
on Apr 29, 2010 at 3:19 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Second-guessing? No, just a simple request for facts to be reported.

Posted by Timothy T, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 29, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Stacey: Did you ask these questions months ago when it was announced they were in a search? A bit late now.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 29, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Now why in the world would anyone ask for facts to be reported by PW months before decisions were made about who would be on the panel?

Posted by Lori J. Rice, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Apr 29, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Each board member was allowed to ask 2 individuals from the community to sit on the panel... I know because I asked 2 of the board members for a spot but didn't make the cut. I believe that the rest of the panel was made up of district employees and the school board.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 29, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Web Link

"The panel was comprised of community and business leaders: principals, parents, parent-teacher council representatives, business owners and union leaders. It included, among others, Scott Raty, president of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, Cindy McGovern, a Pleasanton City Council member and former school board member, Nelson Fialho, city manager, and Joan Laursen, president of the Parent Teacher Association Council.

Arkin said the panel's duty was to give board members feedback on what they believe were the strengths and weakness of each candidate. Panel members also looked at how each candidate fit into a leadership profile, created by the search firm after meeting with the community and others in the district."

Posted by Al Cohen, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 29, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Stacey, as far as I can tell I am persona non grata with respect to the board. However, I continue to help out at Amador as much as I can. I am unaware of any parents on the "review" committee. I hope the new superintendent has a sense of balance for the staff, community and most importantly the needs of the students.

Posted by letsgo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2010 at 10:15 pm

"needs of the students."

I just hope they look at the NEEDS of the students and not the desires of the students (or parents or teachers or community)

I'm a bit nervous that the new person has no budget experience. Seems like they have worked up through the educational ranks which really means she probably has little or nor experience trying to forecast a budget for 5-10 years. Educational administrators seem to leave year to year, making decisions on whatever the state funds. That mentality may have worked in the past, but as we are seeing it doesn't work now and won't work for years (if not decades) to come.

Posted by Will, a resident of Happy Valley
on Apr 30, 2010 at 8:24 am

Wasn't there also a search firm hired to find applicants? How much money was spent on finding a replacement? I have said from the beginning it was a waste of money when we are cutting programs in the schools.

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 30, 2010 at 8:41 am

My take: Coming up through curriculum is fine and does address the needs of students--it is an education business after all. Luz Cazares is excellent and may have a better chance to function without what I saw as the roadblocks that were put in her way.

There may be concern about which search firm was hired (I happen to like Bill Attea from HYA and have seen the services his firm provides), but there is no way a fractured board would have gotten through this process without a search firm--for all the funds that were squandered in the last eight years, this was the right thing to do and is money well spent.

I don't know the finalist; I wish her only the best. She has a lot of challenges ahead of her.

Posted by Glorian, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 30, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I guess my concern is that, as a realtor, I see so many people move to Pleasanton from Fremont to get away from the Fremont School district. Did anyone speak with some of those people? I pray that this was a wise choose. Glorian

Posted by a reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2010 at 5:32 pm

To Glorian,

I share the same concern. Fremont is a mediocre school district with a few good schools. People leave that community for the quality schools here in Pleasanton.

Posted by Interesting, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 30, 2010 at 6:07 pm

See link

Web Link

Apparently Fremont Unified also has a search for a superintendent going on. The above is dated February 2010; why wasn't Ms. Ahmadi considered for this post. I also noticed that Fremont is using the same search firm as PUSD. Cha-ching for the search firm. Interesting that a firm was hired to do a 'national' search and we find the candidate in our own 'backyard.' I wish Ms. Ahmadi a lot of luck; she certainly has an impressive resume, but experience counts in these times. Quite frankly, I'm a little surprised at the choice based on her experience listed in the release.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Well, the choice makes sense to me. It seems Pleasanton really has no desire to maintain a good school district, with the lack of support for its teachers, the district, fundraisers, and a parcel tax. If Pleasanton becomes a mediocre school district because of all this, well, we get what we wished for.

Posted by Another Point of View, a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Apr 30, 2010 at 7:43 pm

The most interesting bit of info in the press release was from Chris Grant.

"School Board President Chris Grant said that given the economy and financial belt-tightening in the school district, Ahmadi's base salary and other benefits will be less than Casey's current base salary, which is $227,000."

You just have to wonder with the mediocre reputation of Fremont Schools and the open search for a Superintendent in Fremont by the same search firm as PUSD, we settled for the most cost effective candidate.

One hopes that she can step up and manage what is essentially a fiscal crisis compounded by a lack of faith in our school board to make the tough decisions. We hope and pray so for our kids.

Posted by Thomas Paineful, a resident of Civic Square
on Apr 30, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Mrs. Ahmadi was chosen to be Superintendent the same way the College of Cardinals choose the Pope: each of the four finalists reached into a large vat of pickled eggs and the one who picked out the black egg became the new Superintendent of PUSD.

It's no surprise that the search firm picked a local candidate. In today's housing market, and with few (if any) Caseyesque incentives to offer, the PUSD Board had to find someone within commuting distance.

Fortunately, the early gossip is that Mrs. Ahmadi is actually bright, energetic, and well-liked in the Fremont District! Plus she picked out the black pickled egg, so now there's nothing any of us can do.

Posted by Do the Math, a resident of Foothill High School
on May 1, 2010 at 7:36 am

Well a bit of good news. If the Salary is around $200,000 plus benefits like insurance, vacation, travel, sick time. The total package should equal about the amount of the entire Oak Grove annual estimated payment into the school district--- (in 4 or 5 years) after the houses are built. Fair trade? 40 ft off our ridges and hill tops, 3 story houses marking the spot where heritage oaks used to grow, in exchange for 1 person's salary + package?

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Canyon Oaks
on May 1, 2010 at 9:53 pm

I hope she works 80+ hours per week to make up for her outrageous salary.

Posted by Not Impressed, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on May 2, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Our daughter is about to enter Middle School, and we don't see much of an impact the Super and/or School Board has had on our dauhter's education over the last five years. In fact, we are suffering through an absolute nightmare of a fifth grade teacher, which no one (including the new principal) can do anything about. It's a moot point and we're all waisting our time on deliberating the merits of a good Super vs. adequate teachers in this (supposedely) excellent school district!!!???

Posted by Qwerty, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 2, 2010 at 11:26 pm

To: "not impressed"

What is this 5th grade teacher doing? I've seen more than my fair share of bad teachers that my family has had to deal with in other school districts so I'm curious what's going on here. Is it the notion of "tenure" that makes it so "no one" can do anything about the problem whatever it is?

Posted by Not Impressed, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on May 3, 2010 at 1:55 pm

to Qwerty: yes, it seems to have everything to do with tenure and possibly burn-out to some degree. This teacher had a bad rep going in, so we were sceptical and kept a close eye on the situation. With so few teaching days left in the year, I guess we'll let the district kick this can down to road for the next year's class to endure.

Posted by Patriot, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 3, 2010 at 9:05 pm

" we are suffering through an absolute nightmare of a fifth grade teacher, "

What's the teacher doing wrong? Not giving challenging assignments? Not grading fairly and firmly? Not teaching the curriculum?

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