It’s time to drop “Interim” from Superintendent Dr. Gary Waddell’s title. The Santa Clara Unified School District Board of Trustees was “thrilled” and “enthusiastic” to snag Dr. Waddell permanently at their Thursday, Jan. 26 meeting.
Dr. Waddell stepped up as Interim Superintendent in July 2022 when Dr. Stella Kemp abruptly resigned after a hectic run. Since then, he has earned the respect of the Santa Clara Unified community and now the Board has officially named him their Superintendent. Board President Vickie Fairchild said Dr. Waddell has had an “inspiring impact.”
“Dr. Waddell leads by example in characteristics valued by the Board — integrity, empathy for others, work ethic, and a focus on equity — and staff members are ready to follow,” said Fairchild. “We are thrilled that he has accepted the appointment to be our next Superintendent and to have him lead our district in providing high-quality education for all students.”
Dr. Waddell has been hard at work making changes in the District and rebuilding relationships and trust with staff and labor unions, who have been praising his work.
“I am eager to continue the work that we have started in service of the children and youth of our district as Superintendent. I believe to my core in the innate promise and potential of every child who walks through our doors,” said Dr. Waddell. “I am grateful to the SCUSD Board of Trustees, staff, and community for their partnership and commitment to our children and youth. It is my great honor to lead this exemplary district as we lock arms to provide a world-class education marked by innovation and opportunity for all children and youth.”
Every year, the SCUSD needs to submit audited annual financial information to the State and County Office of Education. Nathan Edelman, a CPA is a Partner with Eide Bailly LLP, said their external audit only found one issue in 2021-2022. The one state finding was that they held the annual public hearing for instructional materials seven days late but that was resolved, and staff said they will ensure compliance in the future.
While reviewing Board Policy, Student Board Member Anika Bose brought up concerns about food services implementation. In a meeting with the Student Senate, they expressed concerns about the quality of food and options — especially vegetarian and halal options at school. The students are hoping for changes to cafeteria offerings and better communication with students — for example, a poll once a quarter.
Business Official Mark Shiel will investigate these concerns. He said they recently had a consultant review their food services and have a presentation prepared for the next Board meeting. He admitted transitioning to the Universal Meals program means they are learning and adapting to accommodate many more more students eating at sites than in the past. Additionally, Shiel says they’ve noticed a shift in students’ eating habits, like more vegetarian preferences.
During this meeting, the Board heard student reports from Jason Liu from MacDonald High School, Skarlette Smillie about Mission Early College High School, and Tania Zaragoza with Grace Goodson regarding New Valley High School.
At the start of the meeting, they recognized the first LEAP (Leaders in Educational Administration Program) cohort.
The Board passed resolutions recognizing February as American Heart Month and Black History Month. Feb. 13 will be recognized as School Bus Driver Appreciation Day.
The Board meets next on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023.