The Pleasanton school district's interim superintendent, Jim Hansen, stepped back into retirement Thursday, clearing out his office for new superintendent Rick Rubino who started Friday.
Rubino has been superintendent of the Gridley school system in Butte County for the last four years.
Hansen, the retired principal at Amador Valley High School and before that at Harvest Park Middle School, was asked to take a one-year leave from his retirement to fill the temporary role last summer after then-superintendent Parvin Ahmadi took the same job in Castro Valley.
For Hansen, it's been fun and exciting, telling me he accepted the challenge to "right the ship" after the district's several turbulent years.
"We now have an excellent staff and faculty in place," he said. "I'm confident that I'm leaving Rick Rubino with a chance to have some smooth sailing as he takes over."
Nor is Hansen sticking around to make sure. He and his wife Judy, a retired teacher who taught fourth grade at Fairlands Elementary School, left Saturday for a weekend near the Russian River. A week later, they will meet up with their children Kelly, Kevin and Brian and their families at three mountaintop condos they've rented before driving to Coos Bay, Oregon for a nephew's wedding. Then off to Washington state to visit with Judy's sister before heading to Canada to close out July.
That's how the Hansens handled retirement the first time around, although they spaced their trips out over the year. They were on the road so frequently that their travels became known as the Trip of the Month Club to neighborhood friends.
Serving as superintendent, even on a temporary basis, was a heady experience for Hansen.
There had been turnover in both the superintendent's management team (called the cabinet) and at the principal and vice principal levels in the schools. Hansen brought in Dianne Howell, who also had retired, to take over the empty post as head of human resources, and together they found the talent they wanted for the open positions at the district office and the schools.
As a result, the district will start the new school year on Aug. 15 with every key position filled and, with Rubino's hiring, a strong management team in place.
Hansen is leaving with what he calls his most difficult problem solved, at least for the next three years. Because about 40 in the district had been hired last year with temporary grants called "one-time" funds, it was Hansen's job to tell them their jobs would be eliminated. Working with Howell and the school board, they found enough money from state and other sources this spring to keep most of those affected on the payroll for another three years.
"It was distressing to tell this hard-working staff that we had no money to pay them for another years," Hansen said. "Many didn't even know they had been hired with one-year funds. Finding the money to save those jobs is the best news I had before retiring again."
Although Hansen is off on an extended vacation, he'll be back. He is on the board of directors of the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation and hopes to continue his membership in the Rotary Club of Pleasanton.
Also, if the school board decides to place a bond on the November ballot to provide funds needed by the district, he'll do what he can to urge public approval.