Benjamin Picard, Sunnyvale School District Superintendent of Schools, has announced his intention to retire — his last day will be June 30.
“It has been incredible to see teachers and staff in action, connecting with and supporting students over the years,” said Picard. “It has been inspiring to see students grow in mind and heart. And during my time here, I have seen many of our former students return years later as parents with students of their own.
“It has been a privilege forging relationships with our community and with this district family, witnessing our staff use their skills and assets to carry out this noble work on behalf of our students,” continued Picard. “It has been an honor and joy to serve this district, students, and families, for all of these many years.”
Picard has served in a variety of Sunnyvale School District leadership positions since 1987. The School Board unanimously named him superintendent in 2009.
“Dr. Picard’s ongoing level of engagement exceeds our board’s expectations to serve as our representative at organizational meetings,” said former board president Nancy Newkirk. “When Ben participates, you hear from community members that his engagement goes beyond sharing his expertise; he volunteers at events, invites opportunities for building partnerships, and encourages and recruits community members to participate, long after his leadership roles end. This reflects his remarkable passion for improving the quality of life for family and youth throughout our community and the depth of his commitment to civic responsibility as a long-time resident of Sunnyvale.”
Under Picard’s leadership, Sunnyvale School District began to frame the school district’s work around the Seven Correlates of Effective Schools. In the 1990s, Picard served on the initial planning committee that conceived and launched a unique public-private collaborative with the District, the City of Sunnyvale and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to build the Columbia Neighborhood Center (CNC), a school-based community center that delivers recreational, health and educational services to students and their families.
Based on the CNC model, Picard recently led discussions around a new branch library concept in north Sunnyvale that would be done in partnership with the Sunnyvale School District, the City of Sunnyvale and the Fremont Union High School District. The City Council will vote on that project on Jan. 14.
Picard has spearheaded cultural proficiency and equity initiatives in the district. He formed the Sunnyvale Wellness Program, a team of over 15 partners who support staff and student wellness, nutrition, and health. He also created Our Kids Our Community, a partnership with Sunnyvale Community Services and the Sunnyvale Rotary Club which raises money to cover costs for the summer nutrition program. The program ensures children who depend on meals during the school year don’t go hungry over the summer break; Picard’s philosophy being that a hungry child cannot learn.
He has been a community champion for each of the District’s successful parcel tax and bond measures. He was recognized by the Sunnyvale Chamber of Commerce for Outstanding Fiscal Management in 2010. And most recently he was named Distinguished Resident of the Year at Sunnyvale’s 2019 State of the City event in.
Picard began his career with Sunnyvale School District in 1987 as Associate Superintendent of Personnel and Business Services, Associate Superintendent of Business Services, and Deputy Superintendent of Administrative Services. Prior to joining Sunnyvale School District, the Nebraska native served as a teacher or administrator in three different Nebraska communities from 1972 through 1987.
Picard shared that sharing that he and his wife, Susanna, plan to retire in Sunnyvale and remain actively involved the community. He said that Sunnyvale School District and the City of Sunnyvale have been service in meaningful ways. And, of course, they are also looking forward to having more time for family, travel, and new opportunities a less structured lifestyle provides.
A special meeting of the School Board is now scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 9 at 5 p.m. at the District Office, 819 W. Iowa Ave, Sunnyvale. The Board will be joined by representatives of Leadership Associates to organize and plan the search process. The meeting is open to the public. Moving forward, public input will be a key component of the search process. A new superintendent is expected to be in place by July 1.