TEMPLETON — For the first time in nearly a decade, the Templeton Unified School District is looking for a new superintendent.
Current Superintendent Joe Koski announced late last week that he would not be pursuing a contract extension.
In a letter addressed to Templeton school parents and staff dated May 23, Koski stated, “I believe it is time for the district to make changes to the composition and structure of the leadership team. In order to pave the way for those changes, I notified the Trustees that I will not be pursuing a contract extension beyond June 30, 2019.”
In the 358-word letter, Koski looked back to when he was hired to run the district on Feb. 4, 2011, and the significant changes that followed over the years. In addition to being the superintendent, Koski was also the Human Resources Director, Curriculum Development Director and Alternative Education Director, and principal for three schools.
“For the first few years, this workload was manageable,” Koski sated. “In hindsight, this was primarily due to the fact that California’s content standards and assessment system had been in place for over 14 years. This created stability enabling the skilled and veteran teaching faculty and other staff to operate our schools like well-oiled machines.”
He went on to state that several years into his tenure, the California Department of Education dramatically changed the content standards, accountability system and the high stakes assessment in a single year.
“These sweeping reforms ushered in a depth and severity of change rarely seen in California’s educational history,” Koski stated. “Despite the valiant efforts of my staff and me, TUSD has been fighting an uphill battle to maintain excellence. There is much to be proud of since the adoption of the California Content Standards, Local Control Accountability Plan and the Smarter Balanced Assessment; however, I have come to realize that the scope and number of my duties are no longer tenable.”
Koski concluded the letter by thanking TUSD staff and the board.
“I am grateful for my tenure and the many people who toiled alongside me in service to our youth and community,” Koski stated. “I appreciate the support of the members of my Management Team and the Board.”
TUSD trustees held a special meeting on Tuesday, May 28, and began the process of finding a new superintendent. After nearly an hour in closed session, the board returned to open session and expressed their plan moving forward.
In the short-term, the board “gave direction” to Chief Business Officer Aaron Asplund to put together a plan for meeting the needs of the district — concentrating on curriculum, human resources and being mindful of not stretching staff too thin.
The latter being important as the District continues to address funding shortfalls and will have new principals at two of its campuses, including the high school. The District will save some money by not immediately filling the superintendent vacancy.
Trustees did not officially vote to make Asplund the interim superintendent, but it was clear they were going to do so prior to June 30.
The board said the summer was not the best time to be conducting a superintendent search.
“There is a season for interviewing and selecting a candidate to be your superintendent and that is not typically during the summertime, which is OK because I think we have got some work to do,” said trustee Nelson Yamagata, who did the majority of the speaking at the meeting. “I think in the beginning of around the winter season is when things get kind of rolling. So, I think we have some time to set up and get things on their way.”
The board said the search would involve input from staff, students and the public. Trustees also said they would reach out to San Luis Obispo County Office of Education Superintendent Jim Brescia for guidance.
SLOCOE was instrumental in helping Templeton’s neighbor to the north, the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, find its next superintendent and help it work through fiscal problems as well.
Throughout the meeting, trustees continued to be optimistic.
“It’s a process,” Yamagata said. “We are living in the unknown, but I feel very comfortable moving forward.”