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Trustees thank Dr. Rico, begin search for interim superintendent

Trustee Mercado and Dr. Rico

Trustees with Alisal Union School District on Monday thanked outgoing Superintendent Héctor Rico for his years of service and began the search process for an interim superintendent.

Dr. Rico earlier announced he would pursue other interests after his contract ends June 30.

“I remember three years ago you took the challenge,” Trustee Guadalupe Ruiz-Gilpas said during the regular board meeting. “You came here with a positive attitude, you took it on because of your passion for kids, because you care about kids and learning. Thank you for taking the time to be with us.”

Trustees Noemí Armenta and José Antonio Jiménez also thanked Dr. Rico.

“When we were starting (the selection process) it was difficult to choose, but you had all these good qualities that made you suitable for our district,” Mrs. Armenta said. “When you came in you were not worried about your salary, you were worried about getting the job done. We were new, you were new, and we wanted to pass that bond to rebuild our schools. We took it all as beginners. I appreciate you working on weekends… thank you for helping us pass $70 million.”

Voters approved Measure M on Nov. 2016, a bond whose proceeds will be used to renovate Fremont and Alisal Community schools. The bond was approved with 73 percent of the vote. In his farewell message, Dr. Rico listed the bond’s approval as one of the changes he had overseen as head of the district.

Like Armenta, Board President Fernando Mercado thanked the superintendent for creating the counseling positions teachers had been requesting for years. As of today, the Alisal Union School District has one counselor per each school site, all assigned under the recently created Whole Child Division.

“Thank you for three years” with us, Mr. Mercado said.  “Our (test scores) have continued to improve, our much needed counselors finally came to fruition to provide the socio-emotional support needed. There are many more accomplishment and I know all (your) actions had the best interest of our students in mind. Thank you for all your hard work and effort in moving the district forward.”

The farewells followed a presentation by Cabinet Members Ricardo Cabrera, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources; Jim Koenig, Associate Superintendent of Business Services; Quoc Tran, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services; and Jairo Arellano, Assistant Superintendent of Whole Child Education. Each administrator described accomplishments in his respective department over the last three years. Highlights can be seen in this presentation.

Manuel Martinez, attorney with Lozano Smith, guided a board discussion about next steps in finding an interim superintendent and, ultimately, a person for the permanent position. In order to approve a contract before July 1, trustees approved modifying their annual meeting calendar to add a meeting on June 28. During that meeting, the board is expected to approve a contract for an interim superintendent. Trustees designated Mr. Martinez and Board President Mercado to negotiate said contract on behalf of the board.

Board members discussed the possibility of hiring a search firm to find the district’s next superintendent but made no decision on that regard.

"Although the process has to be quick, we're committed to having a transparent process in our search for a permanent superintendent," Board President Mercado stated.