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Siegel contract extended
Scott Siegel, superintendent of the Ceres Unified School District. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Ceres Unified School District Superintendent Scott Siegel won a three-year employment contract on Jan. 9 and with it the Ceres School Board had unanimously approved a pay increase.

Siegel's base salary for the 2014-15 school year will be $201,612.

Siegel, 48, said he wants to spend the rest of his professional career with CUSD.

"My goal is to retire from this district between the ages of 55 and 58," he said.

Siegel has climbed the educational ladder since being hired by Ceres Unified School District in 1989 to teach math and physics at Ceres High. He was named assistant principal in 1998 and became principal a year later. In 2002, Siegel became assistant superintendent of Business Services for CUSD. He was tapped to replace Walt Hanline as superintendent following the 2009-10 school year.

"I've been fortunate to have opportunities," said Siegel. "I never had a plan mapped out. I rolled with it as it came."

"I work for a great district," said Siegel, who oversees a district with an estimated 12,000 students. "We got a great team of people here that are committed to the kids."

Scott was named ACSA's Region 7 Business Services Administrator of the Year in 2009.

"It's very rewarding and fulfilling to see the district improve under great leaders and teachers," Siegel said. "We got an outstanding school board."

Siegel reflected on the changing landscape of K-12 education.

"We have three big challenges," Siegel said. "They're all good."

Ceres Unified must adapt to the state's new financial system.

"In June, the Legislature passed Governor Brown's plan to link the level of state funding that school district's receiving to their percentage of socioeconomically disadvantaged students and English learners," Siegel said. "The state scrapped the old school finance system. The new funding model, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), has three main goals. First, and foremost, put more dollars into the hands of school systems whose students have the greatest need. Second, return some measure of local control to school boards and thereby to voters, diverting it away from the state of California and its over-regulation of spending decisions at the local level. Finally, the LCFF intends to simplify what has become an overly complex system of regulations that stifled local decision making."

The second change involves the implementation of the Common Core Standards and the accompanying Smarter Balanced Assessments.

"My eldest daughter has been taking California Standards Tests since the second grade," Siegel said. "All she has known in school is the annual springtime ritual of taking multiple choice tests based on the California Standards. Next year, as a junior, she will take the new Smarter Balanced Assessments on a computer. The testing program will adapt to her responses as she demonstrates her level of knowledge with the new Common Core Standards. The Common Core Standards have received the attention of some detractors who see them as federally driven. They are not. California developed the standards in a consortium with more than 40 other states in an effort to be more competitive with European and Asian students. I have reviewed the standards, and can give assurances that they are rigorous and will demand that students think deeply, at the same time they require a solid base in fundamental skills. We are very excited about making this transition. As with the LCFF, there are some challenges with the implementation of the Common Core. Final decisions on assessments for this year are still pending."

The third change involves adopting new instructional material to replace aging textbooks.

"It's only a matter of when and not if," Siegel said. "It is quite possible that some of these materials will be in electronic format. While our students will benefit greatly from these changes, it will be a stressful period as our teachers and students work to implement the new curricula."

In other CUSD board action, the daily rates of pay for certificated substitute teachers have been increased.

Substitutes will receive $120 for the first 20 days, up from $100.

Substitutes working 21 days and above will receive $140, up from $110.

A retired substitute teacher will receive $140, up from $130. The rate increases to $160 after 31 days are reached in a single assignment.

"Due to the detrimental impact that substitute shortages create on classroom learning environments, and the necessity to remain competitive in salaries amidst a shrinking sub pool, staff is recommending that the Board of Trustees approve increases in the daily rates of pay for certificated substitute teachers," said Denise Wickham, Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Services for CUSD.