Modesto City Schools trustees approved a three-year contract for Sara Noguchi to serve as superintendent effective July 1.
Noguchi has been associate superintendent of innovations, research and design for Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento. The employment contract approved by a 6-0 vote Monday includes a $250,000 annual salary for Noguchi.
"I'm incredibly proud to have an opportunity to serve the students, families educators and staff of Modesto City Schools," Noguchi said. "For the past 28 years, every day of my professional career has helped me prepare for the responsibility of leading this remarkable organization."
The agreement through June 30, 2021, provides for 20 days of paid vacation each year and reimbursement for up to $10,000 in relocation expenses.
The school board will waste no time in accepting applications to fill the seat vacated by Steven Grenbeaux's resignation two weeks ago. The longtime trustee said he was not happy with the superintendent search and favored an in-house promotion to replace Pam Able, who retired in January.
The board voted 4-2 to fill the Area 6 seat by appointment rather than holding an election in November. Election costs were estimated at $130,000. The majority of board members didn't want to operate with a shorthanded board for six months. Board President Amy Neumann and Trustee John Walker voted in dissent.
The district expects to start accepting applications next week and will hold interviews with candidates. The board seat comes up for election in 2019 or 2020, depending on whether school district voters approve a switch to even-year elections in November.
Modesto City Schools will have a more flexible policy for enrolling refugee and immigrant students at the Language Institute at Davis High School. The English learner program prepares the students for success in the United States.
Problems surfaced in March when two sisters from Afghanistan were denied enrollment in the Davis program over questions about their true birthdates. There were more frustrations and discrimination complaints in May when 10 international students were denied a "5th year" at Davis to work on graduation requirements or eligibility for university admission, and a few others were approved for just one semester.
Most of the denial letters were reversed, but some students were still appealing for an extra year this week.
Monday, the school board approved a new policy that aims to assist new arrivals who have gaps in education after fleeing conflicts in their respective homelands. A new student, who is 16 or 17 years old, with no transferable credits, may be enrolled in 10th grade and spend at least three years in high school under the new policy.
A previous practice of placing newcomer students in grade levels by age, rather than educational experience, made it difficult for them to learn English and earn credits for a diploma on time.
The board also approved more flexible guidelines for newcomers and other students in Modesto City Schools who reach the traditional graduation age but apply for an extra year to complete requirements. The new policies could receive final approval June 25.
In response to recent criticism, board members said that Modesto City Schools has devoted generous financial resources to the Language Institute since it was founded in 2009 and was updating the policies to support the students.