After a tumultuous year for the Los Banos Unified School District, a new superintendent hopes to leave past controversies behind and focus on moving the district – and its students – forward.
District officials on Monday announced Mark Marshall from Eastside Union School District in Lancaster as their superintendent finalist. Marshall’s contract will be formally voted on during the school board’s May 11 meeting, setting his salary.
Marshall, 51, will lead the district starting this summer after the district has been without a permanent superintendent for more than a year. Steve Tietjen, the former superintendent, left the district in June 2016 to lead Merced County Office of Education as Superintendent of Schools.
Since then, the school board has been embroiled in a criminal bribery investigation involving a former trustee and contractor; discussed how to improve low scores on state tests; and denied the renewal for the district-sponsored charter school.
“When we have someone in place who is going to be your new educational leader, we’re looking for stability in the district,” school board President Anthony Parreira told the Sun-Star. “Now everybody has a spot and can concentrate on their jobs.”
Both Parreira and Marshall said the recent controversies, such as the corruption investigation, is in the past – where it belongs.
“That’s all in the hands of law firms now,” Parreira said.
Marshall said he researched the district before applying and was aware of the investigation and the district’s prior struggles. After working in education for 30 years, he’s dealt with similar situations, he said.
“None of this is new to me. You get to a certain point where you’ve seen everything,” he said. “The best way to tackle these issues is to focus on the positive and move forward. Focusing on the past changes nothing.”
Parreira said looking forward, trustees hope Marshall will focus on student achievement and the need for new facilities to accommodate enrollment growth.
At Eastside Union, where three elementary campuses and one middle school serve about 3,400 students, Marshall led an elementary school to become the first in district history to become accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. A middle school also was named an AVID Schoolwide Site of Distinction under his tenure.
Los Banos Unified serves nearly 10,800 students through eight elementary, two junior high and two high schools.
In his first 90 days, Marshall said he plans to “listen, learn and lead.” After getting to know the community players, looking at academic data and the district’s budget, he will make a game plan.
Marshall said he sees the district’s growth and composition as a unified district as a strength. The district’s challenges are comparable to most other public schools, he said.
“I focus on strengths and moving forward,” he said. “How do we best serve the students?”
Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477