ROSAMOND — Southern Kern Unified School District’s governing Board named longtime Palmdale School District educator and Antelope Valley College trustee Barbara Gaines as the District’s new superintendent.
“She seems to have the right fit,” Board President Mario Gutierrez said Thursday.
The Board unanimously ratified Gaines’ two-year, $159,000 a year contract at Wednesday’s meeting. Gaines’ salary will increase to $163,770 in 2020 if she receives an overall satisfactory performance evaluation.
Gaines serves as director of Curriculum and Instruction for Palmdale School District.
The Kern County Superintendent of Schools conducted the superintendent search on behalf of the cash-strapped District for free. The District is $5.2 million in debt and needs to eliminate about $3.6 million in spending this year.
The county education office received 33 applications for the position. It narrowed the pool to 22 applicants, who were then presented to the Board. The Board narrowed the 22 applicants down to six. Those six were interviewed on March 30. The Board interviewed Gaines and one other candidate for a second time before selecting Gaines.
Gutierrez said it was Gaines’ approach to the District’s situation that helped her stand out.
“She did research before she came to interview so she had a lot of background already,” Gutierrez said. “When we asked her questions she had the answers.”
While a lot of the candidates also had answers, Gutierrez said Gaines stood out.
“She just seemed to shine a little bit better than the others,” Gutierrez said.
Although the District is not expected to solvent until the 2020-21 fiscal year, Gutierrez said they are making enough headway that it is looking promising.
“I’m kind of looking forward to the challenge,” Gaines said Thursday.
Gaines attended Wednesday’s meeting. She said the Board stopped the meeting and held a reception for her. She described the Board as five exceptional people.
“I really liked them a lot,” Gaines said.
Gaines met several of the teachers, administrators, parents, classified staff, and other district employees at the meeting.
“Everybody seemed very, very, very receptive and very polite and kind to me,” Gaines said.
Gaines’ contract calls for her to start July 1. She hopes to start June 21 to set up her office and get acclimated to her new position.
“I said my goal is to return us to a District of integrity, and to be fiscally solvent with a healthy reserve,” Gaines said.
After the District has reached fiscal stability Gaines would like to provide an increase in salary to District employees including teachers, classified staff, and administrators.
“They all deserve a raise. I think they’ve all been very patient,” Gaines said.
Gaines acknowledged leading the District will be a challenge, but she is ready for it.
“It’s like everything I’ve done for the past 22 years in my life in education has prepared me for this position,” Gaines said.
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