Atwater names its new chief of schools

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comJune 24, 2013 

— Sandra Schiber is the new superintendent of the Atwater Elementary School District.

Schiber, 51, replaces Melinda Hennes, who is retiring at the end of  the month after   eight years as superintendent. Schiber has been the Merced Union High School District's assistant superintendent for human relations for 3½ years and a district employee for 28 years.

Schiber's appointment was announced Thursday by board President Kelly Fincher, who said trustees anticipate approving an employment agreement with her at their regularly scheduled board meeting July 9.

Schiber starts work July 10 as the leader of the eight-school district.

Fincher said Schiber has a strong record of working well with staff, students and the community, as well as championing successful programs that enhance student achievement.

She will earn $150,000 a year. There were 26 applicants for the job.

"I am excited," Schiber said. "I will miss the fantastic staff of the Merced Union High School District but will stay connected with them as we plan to continue with articulation of common core standards."

Schiber was the director of curriculum and instruction for three years before assuming her current position, and was principal at East Campus Educational Center for five years. She started in 1985 as a physical education and English teacher at Atwater High School.

"I am honored to serve the children and community of the Atwater Elementary School District in the role of superintendent," Schiber said.

"Atwater Elementary is a great place for students and I look forward to working with the staff and the Board of Trustees to continue the district's wonderful tradition of high student achievement," she said.

Trustee Dale Wilson said Schiber will be a good superintendent and will help with seventh- and eighth-graders as they transition to high school. Trustee Larry Whitney said he thinks Schiber will do an "outstanding job."

Trustee Scott Lee said board members are excited to have Schiber as superintendent.

"She brings some good things to the future of the Atwater Elementary School District," Lee said.

Trustee Joe Hoffar said he is very pleased Schiber accepted the position and looks forward to working with her in the near future. Fincher said Schiber has experienced education through many lenses, all of which benefit the Atwater district.

Fincher also praised Hennes' efforts and said they will be working together in July to ensure a smooth transition. Hennes said Schiber has been a member of the community for many years, and her children attended Atwater schools.

"She's in touch with the needs of the community and fully respected," Hennes said.

Schiber said she will work hard to create a nurturing, caring and supportive climate in which team members hold themselves accountable and analyze teaching and learning systems to continuously improve.

Scott Scambray, MUHSD superintendent, said Schiber has been one of the cornerstones of the high school district's success during his tenure.

"It's a big loss for us," Scambray said.

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

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