Dr. Elise Simmons resigned as principal of Santa Barbara High School on August 2nd, 2023. She served as our principal for five years and left for the Coordinator of Student and Family Services position at the Santa Barbara County Office of Education. Our current interim principal in this transitional time is Mr. Fred Razo. A highly involved search for a new principal has already begun,with the school hiring the private search firm, Leaderships Associates, to conduct the hiring process. A school organizing committee has been created by English teacher Patricia Ruth, AVID director Mr. Velasco, and Family Engagement Liaison Ms. Jimenez to provide staff and faculty input during the hiring process.
The district has seen a lot of turmoil in the last three years in terms of changing employment. This is following the trend of high level administration employees as well as teachers leaving the district in large numbers. On the topic of such high rates of teacher turnover, Ms. Ruth said, “I think many teachers have left because they can make more money in different districts.”
The Santa Barbara Unified District pays their teachers the least out of all the surrounding districts, which is becoming even more of a problem considering the cost of living in this county has skyrocketed and continues to climb.
When it comes to our new principal, the school board are the only ones that make the decision about who to hire. However, Ms. Ruth wants people who have different kinds of connections to the school to give input, and make sure all types of staff have a role in the process. Ms. Ruth would like to see, “someone with experience running a big show,” as well as a principal whose presence is “felt and known” in the school. The applications have now closed, and in the coming weeks interviews will be taking place and hopefully a decision will be made by October. Even more people will be involved in the interview process to make sure the selected candidate will be the right fit for our school. If there is not a qualified applicant by the time Mr. Razo has to leave due to his retirement agreement, the school will have to find another interim principal. One of Ruth’s final remarks was, “Santa Barbara High has history and great traditions, but we don’t want to get stuck in the past, we need to be future focused.” The hope is that our new principal will reflect those sentiments, especially when it comes to how we treat our teachers.
Photo above shows principal’s office sign at Santa Barbara High School [Image Credit: Sofia Lopez]