Stanislaus Union School District is looking for a leader after Superintendent Wayne Brown's announcement that he will retire at the end of the school year.
"SUSD has been a great last setting for me," said Brown, 61, who came to the district in February of 2006 after serving as superintendent of the King City district. He will step away following a 37-year career. Trustees started the process of finding a replacement this month.
Since his arrival, the district has added a full-day kindergarten, an arts academy at Stanislaus Elementary and online learning to its program for gifted students. Passage of a school bond allowed the district to renovate its junior high, Prescott Senior Elementary, and beef up technology throughout the district.
Tough decisions had to be made, as well. Facing a state funding downturn and declining enrollment, the district closed Muncy School and wrestled with years of budget cuts.
First-year board member Susan Elliott said the closure was "a contentious and difficult time," but had to be done. "I have tried to talk him into staying," Elliott said. "It has been a privilege to know and work with him this year. He is one of the best."
Brown said he has come to enjoy the smaller district for its personal contact with staff and the public. "Board meetings can be long and slow, but everyone is encouraged to come, provide input, disagree and even be a part of the actual process," he said.
Also putting up "help wanted" signs are Sylvan Union, where Superintendent John Halverson will leave after a decade with the district, and Empire Union, losing Superintendent Bob Price after 20 years.
"The not-so-well-guarded secret to being a successful superintendent is having a good board, a great management team, quality staff and parents who care," Brown said.
"My best legacy at SUSD might be that I did not screw any of that up."
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2339, and on Twitter, @NanAustin.