S.P. High School District superintendent to retire

December 18, 2002
Santa Paula High School
By Brian D. Wilson Santa Paula TimesDr. William Brand, Superintendent of the Santa Paula Union High School District since 1996, has decided to retire this June.“It was a very difficult decision,” Brand said. “The board has known about it for quite some time. We wanted to go public now because of the importance of getting the word out that there would be an opening in the Santa Paula High School District.” The process of searching for a new superintendent will start next month across the state. The district hopes to have a new superintendent named by the end of March or early April.The board and Brand felt it was essential to get the word out that it is a good position and Brand was not forced out, but decided to retire on his own.Brand will retire to Shell Beach where he and his wife have recently remodeled a home. For the past couple of years he’s commuted back and forth, going home to Shell Beach on Friday and driving back Monday morning. Brand came to Santa Paula almost seven years ago.Long-time board member and now board president Bob Salas says he understands Brand’s decision to step down now. “Bill was extremely important to Santa Paula education,” Salas said. “I’m sorry to see him leave. Most people don’t know that he considered retiring a year ago, but we convinced him to stay.” Salas says that Brand’s style of leadership was needed when he was hired. He also gives Brand much of the credit for the academies and other programs started at the school.Brand and the school board made some changes at the high school right after he started his tenure. He said his first goal was to change the perception of Santa Paula High School. “It appeared that the perception of the students was that they couldn’t achieve on a higher level,” Brand noted. “We eliminated what were termed Standard Classes and that represented 60 or 70 percent of the school. They were basically remedial classes with no skills that could be used after high school. We changed the curriculum to College Prep and began the process of adding an Advanced Placement program and an Honors program. Now we have a four year Honors program with Advanced Placement in the 11th and 12th grade.”
He said they also changed the perception of students by putting higher demands on their academic ability. “We now have over half of our students taking the Golden State Exam, which is a rigorous test,” said Brand. “I think the most important thing to realize is that, since we made that change we’ve done a breakdown of our grade distribution and there was no change in the grades whatsoever. We had 48 percent of the school with a 3.0 grade point average. We took 700 or 800 kids and moved them into College Prep classes and we found that the kids made and achieved the level we were looking for.”Brand says he’s also proud of the establishment of the Academies and the Summer School Institute. “These are programs that have been recognized at both the national and state level as exemplary,” he added. “Now our task is to get everyone who falls under the Exit Exam through that process.”Another change in the works is eliminating or modifying the current block schedule at the high school. A committee, made up of teachers and administrative staff will make recommendations to the board in February. The reason for the change is that Advanced Placement and Honors students need to be in classes throughout the year because of the tests that go along with those classes, something that doesn’t occur under the block schedule.Brand said he wants to thank everyone in Santa Paula for all the kindness and support that he’s received. “This is a very, very positive, unique community and it’s been an honor to serve as superintendent,” he said.

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