Denair School Trustees Honor Outgoing Superintendent, Reward Teachers and Refinance Long-Term Debt

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

The Denair Unified School District Board of Trustees said goodbye to its popular superintendent, approved a one-time salary increase for teachers and agreed to refinance its debt to save money at a busy meeting Thursday night.

Superintendent Aaron Rosander – who inherited a district threatened with state takeover in 2014 – leaves it in much better financial shape than we he arrived. Enrollment has stabilized, new programs and an energetic leadership team are in place, and employee morale is definitely on the rise.

“Mr. Rosander, you changed the face and name of Denair. We were down and out and almost taken over. Thank you,” said Trustee Kathi Dunham-Filson.

Echoed Board President Ray Prock Jr.: “We wouldn’t be here today without you. … We are forever grateful.”

Rosander, whose daughter recently graduated from Denair High School, intends to move to the Bay Area to be closer to his elderly parents. He called educators “dream builders” who provide inspiration and guidance to students.

“It’s been a nice ride the last 4½ years,” he said. “Denair has been very good to my daughter and I. … It has been my honor and pleasure to work with you.”

Before the tributes to Rosander, trustees unanimously approved a one-time 4.31% payout to teachers based on their 2017-18 salaries. It is not a raise in their base pay, but “continues to show the board’s commitment to and respect for our teachers,” Rosander said.

Prock, Dunham-Filson and John Plett supported the proposal. Trustees Crystal Sousa and Regina Gomes were not at Thursday’s meeting.

Teachers took an 8% salary cut in 2013 when the district was in financial crisis. Some of that money since has been restored, with permanent increases tied to specific gains in enrollment. Thursday’s action will cost the district $207,500.

Earlier this year, trustees agreed to a similar one-time payout to non-teaching staff. Continue reading “Denair School Trustees Honor Outgoing Superintendent, Reward Teachers and Refinance Long-Term Debt” »

Silva Hired as Next Principal at Denair Middle School

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

The Denair Unified School District didn’t have to look very far to find its next principal for Denair Middle School. Trustees voted unanimously Thursday night to hire Amanda Silva, who currently serves as the district’s assistant director of special education.

“She’s dedicated to Denair. She empowers others. She’s forward thinking. She’s passionate about kids,” said Kara Backman, the district’s director of secondary education and high school principal. She served on the hiring committee will be Silva’s direct supervisor.

Backman said Silva stood out among the seven internal and external candidates who were interviewed. Silva will become the middle school campus’ fifth principal in the past four years, a trend she intends to do her best to end.

“The biggest thing is building culture and pride in community, school and students,” she said. “We need to be positive, think positive and work hard.”

Silva has been with the district since February 2016 and has worked with staff and students across all four campuses to develop special education programs. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and an administrative credential and master’s degree from College of San Joaquin.

Confronting a steady decline in enrollment will be among her first challenges, she said.

“We need to become a team,” said Silva, who believes the relationships she already has forged with the DMS staff will benefit her. “We’ll be focused on doing our best for all our students.”

Silva will replace Brian LaFountain, who will return to the classroom teaching high school math in Ceres. Continue reading “Silva Hired as Next Principal at Denair Middle School” »

Terry Metzger Hired as New Superintendent of Denair Unified School District

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

The Denair Unified School District announced Thursday night that it has hired Terry Metzger as its new superintendent.

Metzger has been the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Rincon Valley Union School District in Santa Rosa since 2012, but she is no stranger to Stanislaus County or the Central Valley.

She has two degrees from CSU Stanislaus – a master’s in education administration as well as a doctorate in educational leadership. She also has taught classes there as an adjunct faculty member.

Before she moved to Santa Rosa, Metzger was a teacher and elementary school principal in Galt. She also taught various grade levels in Lodi and Stockton, and has served as a principal coach for the Education Leadership Institute in Sacramento.

She is thrilled to be coming to Denair.

“I’ve been looking for a superintendency for a couple of years,” she said. “I’ve been picky. It was important to me to find the right match. I’m honored to have this opportunity.”

DUSD Board President Ray Prock Jr. said she emerged after an extensive search that included in-depth interviews of the four finalists by trustees as well as a committee made up of staff and community members.

“Terry was our No. 1 choice,” he said.

Metzger will officially start work in Denair on July 1, but intends to make as many trips as possible to the area before then to become familiar with the staff and community. She will be paid $145,753 annually, which includes the same 2.75% salary reduction as all other district employees.

She will succeed Aaron Rosander, who will leave in June after four years as superintendent. Continue reading “Terry Metzger Hired as New Superintendent of Denair Unified School District” »

Retiring Denair Leader Warns District Finances Still ‘Fragile,’ Emphasizes Need to ‘Increase and Sustain’ Revenue

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Even as the search for a new superintendent enters its final stage, the current leader of the Denair Unified School District reminded the community Thursday night not to become complacent about the financial progress that has been made in the past four years.

Aaron Rosander, the man hired in 2014 to engineer the district’s turnaround from the brink of fiscal crisis, will retire at the end of this year. His replacement has been chosen, though he or she is not expected to be publicly introduced until the May 10 Board of Trustees meeting.

The new superintendent will inherit a district that has made significant progress to earn back public trust by restoring financial stability and improving classroom results. But crucial work remains, according to Rosander.

Enrollment at the high school and middle school must begin to grow again, innovative new educational programs must be introduced and employee salaries must be fully restored after deep cuts enacted in 2013.

The key, he believes, is a two-pronged strategy unveiled two months ago: creation of a new charter concept to cover “seamless academic progression” from kindergarten through high school coupled with voter approval of a small parcel tax to provide necessary revenue.

Rosander shared with trustees Thursday night a financial review from the Stanislaus County Office of Education that expressed concern “about our enrollment … as it relates to our ongoing financial condition.”

He called Denair’s budget situation “balanced but fragile” and urged the district to “respond to our circumstance by embracing viable initiatives that will increase and sustain … revenue.”

Rosander’s replacement will no doubt play a pivotal role in galvanizing public support for the proposals. Continue reading “Retiring Denair Leader Warns District Finances Still ‘Fragile,’ Emphasizes Need to ‘Increase and Sustain’ Revenue” »

Denair Trustees Hear Update on Superintendent Search

Denair Unified School District trustees heard an update Wednesday night from the consulting firm leading the search for a new superintendent. The current superintendent, Aaron Rosander, announced in February he will leave the district at the end of June after 4½ years.

In late February, a representative from McPherson & Jacobson held stakeholder meetings with 72 people representing community members, students, teachers, classified staff, administrators and parents. Each participant was asked to respond to four questions:

  • What are the good things about your community?
  • What are the good things about your schools?
  • What issues should the superintendent be aware of as he/she comes into the district?
  • What skills, qualities or characteristics should the new superintendent possess to be successful here?

Respondents to the first two questions frequently mentioned the tight-knit nature of the Denair community and its bond with the school district. Many referred to the relationship as reflecting the closeness of a “family” and believe the bond formed through generations of Denair residents is an important asset.

In terms of key issues the new superintendent should understand, enrollment – particularly at Denair High School and Denair Middle School – was a common theme. Both campuses have seen fewer students in recent years, offsetting consistent growth at Denair Elementary Charter Academy.

Teachers cited complete salary restoration after pay cuts were imposed in 2013 as well as what they view as a high turnover rate among teachers as well as administrators.

Some in the community expressed concern that the new superintendent will be at a disadvantage because he or she is not available now to help guide the Board of Trustees’ decision to write a new charter for the district as well as seek a parcel tax, which would provide money for salary increases. Continue reading “Denair Trustees Hear Update on Superintendent Search” »