The long and winding road of Antioch's superintendent search ended in a happy destination with the selection of Dr. Deborah Sims. At times the collective nerves pained, but in the end, the right fit was found and patience rewarded.
I wish to personally commend my fellow trustees for not tiring from painstaking scrutiny and for not settling for second best. We hung together through thick and thin and stuck to our commitment to find a unanimous choice.
Lord knows, the superintendent search is the come-all and be-all of trustee decisions. Choosing the district leader is show time and Super Bowl, for it demands a consummate CEO in a district with 21,000 students, 1,800 employees and a $150 million budget.
Superintendent is multiple jobs rolled into one, with savvyness called for in facilitating an administrative cabinet; directing hiring, training and supervision of staff; negotiations, facilities maintenance and planning; managing safety, discipline, nutrition, special education and curriculum concerns; and working with media, parent and business groups.
Let's not forget a maze of ever-changing state and federal mandates and the fact that any superintendent deals with a five-headed boss! Thankfully, in Antioch it is a supportive and team-spirited one.
The rub is we found someone to fit the bill. Dr. Sims comes to us with a sterling reputation as a listener, consensus builder and bold innovator. She is from a family of educators and meeting her is to instantly sense both her approachability and her passionate commitment to reaching out to successfully teach each and every child.
Her resume is stellar in a district, San Francisco, that was chosen as one of the five finalists for the prestigious national Broad Prize for Urban Education. Dr. Sims has assisted her district to nationally recognized test score improvements; worked tirelessly on teacher and parent engagement initiatives; and designed administrative mentoring programs.
She has been through the fires, helping lead San Francisco out of difficult times, overseeing seven site closures, four mergers and eight relocations. She has the right stuff to lead us to the next level.
Our grabbing a brass ring, though, comes with personal bittersweetness. I, for one, will miss Superintendent Goettsch. He has been a prince of a guy, extraordinarily easy and fun to work with. He clearly has put his heart and soul into the district.
The fruits of his labors are evident with sound financial footing; a superb administrative crew and team of excellent principals, teachers and classified staff; 10 process improvement charter groups; a character-driven curriculum; and state-funded elementary, charter and medically themed magnet schools on the way. The footing and momentum is there.
I wish Dennis a well-earned and grand retirement. Dr. Sims, take the well-carried mantle from him and godspeed on what I foresee as a splendid journey with us.
Antioch School Board Trustee