Robin Hopper is approaching her new job as Mariposa County superintendent of schools with both elation and trepidation.
Hopper, 49, starts leading Mariposa’s school system June 19, after four years as the assistant superintendent for educational services with the Livingston Union School District. Her appointment was ratified May 15 by trustees.
She also was a principal in Livingston, a language arts program specialist with the Merced County Office of Education and taught at Merced’s Chenoweth and Fremont elementary schools.
Hopper’s reservations stem from Mariposa County schools not benefiting from Gov. Jerry Brown’s new school funding formula. She said Mariposa is designated a basic aid county and most of its funding comes from local property taxes, not state revenue.
The district, which has experienced declining enrollment, has 1,600 students from transitional kindergarten through high school housed at nine schools.
“I’m really excited about it (the new position), but it’s pretty scary,” Hopper said. “It’s a very shoestring budget. Teachers haven’t had a raise in eight years, and the staff deserves raises. We have to dig for funding opportunities; I am taking stock of what we can do to continue.”
Hopper succeeds Aaron Rosander, who took a job late last year with the Denair school system. She will make $140,000 a year.
John Stafford of Clovis, interim Mariposa superintendent since January, said he had a chance to spend some time with Hopper and was very impressed with her.
“She is the first female superintendent the district has ever had,” Stafford said. “She’s a top-notch administrator. I am really excited for her to come aboard.”
Hopper’s former boss, Livingston Union School District Superintendent Andres Zamora, said it will be a challenge to replace her, but she will make a great superintendent.
Hopper expects to receive her doctorate in educational leadership from California State University, Stanislaus, by the end of the summer. She received her master’s degree in school administration from Stanislaus State and her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from California State University, Fresno. Her associate of arts degree in early childhood education came from Merced College.
Since Mariposa won’t benefit from extra funds embodied in Brown’s new Local Control Funding Formula, Hopper said she would explore ways to partner with other agencies and address a number of facilities issues.
Mariposa County Unified School District trustees Kirstie Dunbar-Kari and Kim Forsythe-Allison said they were part of a team that interviewed 14 people in Livingston who worked with Hopper. They said they are lucky to have found a superintendent with so much knowledge and experience.
Ken Price, president of California School Employees Association Chapter 609, was involved in the interview process and said he feels confident Hopper will do a great job as superintendent.
“Personally, I think Robin will pull our schools together and serve our district’s students well,” Price said. “I feel she is the right person for the job.”
Mariposa teacher Mark W. Abney said Hopper is committed and passionate about educating children, has great leadership skills and will be an asset to students, parents and teachers of Mariposa County.
Hopper said her family moved to Mariposa when she was in first grade, and she graduated from Mariposa County High School.
“I resonate with the mission of enabling all students to strive for excellence as lifelong learners who realize their personal potential through productive participation in a global society,” Hopper wrote in her application letter. “The opportunity to live in Mariposa County again and give back to the community and schools that shaped me in my youth would be a dream come true.”