Principals shuffled in Merced elementary, middle schools

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comJuly 22, 2013 

— Eight of Merced's 17 elementary and middle schools will have new principals this fall. The change in school leadership at five local campuses is part of periodic reshuffling of administrative assignments; three brand-new principals also were named by trustees at a board meeting last week.

Vance d'Escoto will be Chenoweth Elementary School's principal. He previously was principal at Franklin Elementary School. Cesar Hernandez takes over at Franklin Elementary School; he previously was principal at Stowell Elementary School.

Rojelio Gutierrez becomes principal at Sheehy Elementary School; in the last school year he was principal at Luther Burbank Elementary School. Tara Bright becomes principal at Stowell School; she previously was the Tenaya principal.

Lucrecia Sicairos becomes principal at Tenaya Middle School; she was Sheehy's principal last spring.

The reassignments were approved late last week by the Merced City School District Board of Education, along with the hiring of three first-time principals.

The board named Jerod Garst as Burbank's principal. Jill Settera will direct Cruickshank Middle School, and Michelle Colburn is the new Hoover Middle School principal.

RoseMary Parga Duran, district superintendent, said it was time to move principals to use their strengths in areas where they are needed. She said the principal reassignments typically take place about every five or six years.

"We thought about it long and hard," Duran said. "Change is good for all of us. We look at it as a new adventure. We will have a strong team now as we are moving to common core, new assessments (testing) and the development of professional learning communities."

Darrell Cherf, a Board of Education member since 2001, said rotation of principals is done every so often and the new assignments are good fits.

"It's not just rotation for rotation's sake," Cherf said. "The staff looks for the best fit and a different perspective."

Sicairos was Sheehy principal for four years and a learning director there for three years before being named principal at Tenaya.

She said she is looking forward to a new challenge — her first time leading a middle school. Since she is very familiar with Sheehy students who will attend Tenaya, she said it makes the transition easier.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or

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