As of May 1, the San Juan Unified School District’s (SJUSD) Board of Education named Glynn Thompson the District’s ninth superintendent.
A resident of Sacramento, Thompson joined SJUSD in July 2009 as the district’s first chief academic officer and has been serving as interim superintendent of schools since June 2011. He reportedly has more than 30 years of education experience as a teacher, principal and district leader.
Thompson said he accepted the superintendent position as he had made a commitment to the District through the work being done through its community-based strategic plan.
“The district is doing some amazing work and we’re getting results, but I felt strongly that we needed stability and leadership,” he explained. “So when the board asked me to accept the position, the only answer I could think of was a definite yes.”
As he begins his term, Thompson feels the district has a number of strengths and has a rich tradition of success.
“We have the most California distinguished schools in the county, (and) we have many teachers that have been recognized by the state for their work in teaching,” he detailed. “The district has a very positive relationship with their labor groups (and) we have a very strong board of education.”
Thompson said he is proud of the District’s 2010-2015 Strategic Plan, which he said has already seen a number of accomplishments, including a successful visual and performing arts program, a dual language immersion school, and a public Montessori school.
“We’re talking about what does it mean to be a 21st century learner and leader in preparing our students to be effective citizens,” he added.
Moving forward, Thompson said the strategic plan will be used as a “road map” to plan where the future of the District is headed.
“We’re really facing some serious fiscal issues, and in San Juan we budget the plan instead of planning a budget,” he explained. “We have a very clear direction of where we’re headed and I think that kind of focus is really important to a district that is this large.”
Over the past few years, SJUSD has needed to cut between $30-50 million from its annual budget. Thompson said that if the November initiative does not pass, the district is looking at another possible $35 million in cuts.
“I’m very hopeful that the community will rally around this November initiative,” he said. “As it stands, the fiscal funding in California is broken and we need to do something together to address this serious issue.”
Thompson hopes to involve the community through new communication venues, such as the virtual Brown Bag Lunch Chat he had hosted on Friday, May 6 for parents, staff and community members. Based on the success of the event, Thompson said the district will probably host something similar again, plus they are looking at more ways for parents and community members to offer their input.
“School districts have traditionally been very good at disseminating information, but we sometimes haven’t done as much as we should in listening,” Thompson said. “And not only listening to feedback, but then doing something with it. So that’s one of the commitments of this administration: we will do everything we can to illicit input from the larger San Juan community. There are some extraordinary people in our district and so we want to listen.”
Thompson said there are a number of issues the district is facing that he plans to work on. For instance, he will continue to look at all groups of student attending SJUSD schools to ensure they are college-ready if they choose to go that route.
“We want all students succeeding at high levels,” he said.
He plans to continue to look at the District’s drop-out rate.
“While we’ve made extraordinary progress over the past three years, we want to be the leaders in the state,” he said.
Additionally, Thompson is very proud of the focus on literacy the district has had.
“We want to be the lighthouse district in the state, where people look at us and say that they can learn from the good work that’s happening in San Juan,” he added.
Thompson said it all comes down to the bottom line, which is giving students the skills they need to be successful in college and career.
“We need to constantly be updating our strategies as teachers and leaders for preparing them for their next steps,” he added. “That’s something that we’re doing right now and it’s our ongoing commitment.”