An award-winning superintendent in Merced County is taking the top administrator's spot in Gustine Unified School District, according to a news release.
Bryan Ballenger, 42, will leave the superintendent position in Ballico-Cressey School District for the same job in the Gustine district, the Merced County Office of Education said in a news release. He begins in Gustine in March.
Ballenger has more than 16 years of experience in educational leadership roles, the release said. He was also named the top superintendent of a small school district in California for 2015.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity given me,” Ballenger said in the release. “I believe Gustine is an excellent place to work.”
He will replace William Barr who has been the interim superintendent since the departure of William Merones, the release said.
Ballenger has led the Ballico-Cressey district, which has 380 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, since December 2010, the release said. He was at the helm while the district put a computer in the hands of each student. other accomplishments included increasing enrollment and getting bond measure to pass in June 2016, the release said.
The Gustine district has about 1,800 students from kindergarten through 12th grade, the release said. “My biggest challenge will be getting acclimated to the district and building relationships with students, parents and staff. Getting to know everybody,” Ballenger said.
The district on the Westside has seen challenges in recent years with leaders butting heads over spending. Members of the district’s bond oversight committee have questioned the district’s use of a lease-leaseback construction method in the Gustine High School locker room project as well as how the money was spent.
Voters approved the $14 million Measure P in 2014 for facility repairs and upgrades. The first project, a new locker room at Gustine High, was completed last year.
Bliss Boesch will serve as interim superintendent in Ballico. Ballenger’s contract must still be ratified by the school board, which meets Feb. 14.
Ballenger is on pace to complete his doctorate in education, specializing in curriculum and instruction, from the University of South Carolina in August. He has a master’s degree from California State University, Stanislaus, and a bachelor’s degree from Sacramento State University, the release said.
He was formerly principal at Bellevue Elementary School in Atwater and associate principal at Atwater High School.