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Galt High names new principal

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Posted: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 10:00 pm

Charles Howell, of Fresno, has been chosen as Galt High's new principal.

His first day is July 6 and his starting salary will be $113,963.

"The last three years I've been in an elementary school, but I really missed the high school kids. I had a desire to get back to that level, but there was nothing available here," Howell said, regarding his decision to apply. "Galt just seemed like a nice community."

He replaces former principal Bernie Olmos, who was removed from the position earlier this year.

The board approved hiring Howell at a special meeting Monday.

Howell, who is moving from the Central Unified School District, which serves 14,000 to 18,000 students, has close to 25 years of education experience in both California and Washington. He holds a master's degree in educational administration from a Washington college, while his bachelor's degree is in math with a minor in coaching.

Howell most recently served as principal at Madison Elementary School, whose 14-square-mile attendance area in a rural setting is similar to Galt High's.

Galt Joint board at a glance

In other action Monday, the board approved interviewing and starting the hiring process for a new superintendent to replace Tom Gemma. His resignation is effective Tuesday, and the board hopes to have a new district leader hired by July 27.

The hiring process began last week with a sparsely attended community input meeting. About two dozen community members and district representatives came up with a list of qualities they would like to see in a new superintendent.

Paper screening of the applicants by the board will begin Monday and will be followed with a series of background checks performed by an outside agency. That process should be completed by July 10.

Meanwhile, trustees will create two interview panels, comprised of teachers, classified employees, parents and community members, including the incoming student board representative.

Trustees will chose one community member each, while a lottery process will be used in choosing which staff members will participate. If interested, leave your name at the district office before Wednesday.

Interviews by parents and community members are scheduled to begin July 13 with candidate visits beginning a week later.

A board members have set July 27 as a deadline to hire a new superintendent.

News-Sentinel staff

While at Madison, Howell's annual salary was $94,584.

The campus is situated on 17.5 acres in Fresno County, surrounded by farms, a dairy and single family residences, according to an online school accountability report. The attendance area has expanded to include the full spectrum of housing, including mobile home parks, migrant farm housing and affordable housing.

A new housing development is under construction.

Of the 700 students, 86 percent qualify for freeor reduced-lunch. The ethnic and racial composition of the student body is 69 percent Hispanic, 13 percent white, 11 percent Asian and 7 percent black, according to the report issued by the state department of education.

Galt High School has roughly 2,200 students, although a second high school is opening in the fall to freshmen and sophomores only. Other grades will be added later.

Prior to being principal at Madison Elementary, Howell also served as principal at Central High School, East Campus, which is about the same size as Galt High.

In Galt, he is starting at step two of the district's salary levels, according to board president Terry Parker-Owning.

Howell's annual pay is consistent with principals in nearby Lodi Unified School District, which serves a much larger number of students. The highest-paid principal last school year was McNair High's James Davis, at $123,506, according to figures provided by the district in February.

Howell, who is coming to Galt at a time of transition, said he didn't realize at the time he applied for the position that the district's superintendent was leaving, but he said he's up for any challenge and looks forward to working with Liberty Ranch Principal Brian Deis.

"I always think that change is good. Hopefully, what we do will benefit the students and the community," Howell said.

He will be moving north next week, and his wife will join him as soon as their house in Fresno sells. They have lived there for 10 years.

"It's a little cooler up there, and we're really excited about the change," he said.

The district began accepting applications for the principal position in April, after its board decided to remove Olmos from his post as principal. He was offered a physical education or Spanish teaching position in the fall, but reportedly plans to leave the area.

At the time, Superintendent Tom Gemma gave little reason for the leadership change except to say that he and Olmos had differing viewpoints on the future. Gemma has since given his resignation, effective Tuesday.

Olmos was hired in 2005, following a months-long search and during a tumultuous time in the district. However, under his leadership, the school improved its federal test scores and was recognized as one of the top schools in nation by both Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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1 comment:

  • posted at 9:30 am on Fri, Jun 26, 2009.

    Posts:

    McNair and other LUSD HSs are LARGE comprehensive Division 1 schools GHS is LESS than half their size. Yet, the District chose to compare the new principal to them? There is no need for competitive pricing...you want to know why the state and Districts are broke? This is why.

     

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