New schools leader to start work today

New schools leader to start work today

Michele Ellson
Sean McPhetridge

New interim schools superintendent Sean McPhetridge. Photo courtesy of the Alameda Unified School District.

Alameda’s Board of Education has hired veteran Alameda schools administrator Sean McPhetridge to serve as the Island's interim schools chief for the 2014-15 school year, which starts on August 25.

The board voted 4-1 on Tuesday to approve a contract with McPhetridge, with trustee Trish Spencer – who sometimes clashed publicly with McPhetridge at school board meetings over the three years he served as the district’s assistant superintendent – casting the sole vote against his contract.

He’s slated to start his new job today.

Schools leaders called McPhetridge a well-regarded Alameda Unified veteran whose energy, support of a host of educational initiatives and broad knowledge of the community and the school district will be welcomed.

“I really think he is the right superintendent at this time for our district,” said board president Margie Sherratt, who brought McPhetridge to Alameda in 2000 to work with her when she was principal of Alameda High School and has worked with him on and off since. “I think he’s a welcome breath of fresh air, someone many people feel comfortable with.”

Alameda Education Association president Audrey Hyman said she’s optimistic the teachers’ union can rebuild its relationship with the school district and its administration under McPhetridge, who she said has provided instrumental support for teacher-initiated programs like the district’s Go Green effort. The union had a frosty relationship with the district’s former superintendent, Kirsten Vital, who the union repeatedly accused of trampling on teachers.

“I hope that we can create a true partnership,” Hyman said.

McPhetridge said he’s excited to come back to Alameda.

"I look forward to returning to Alameda and reconnecting with families and staff that help make (Alameda) schools great places to learn," McPhetridge said. "I am grateful for this opportunity to work in a new capacity in a district that I love."

McPhetridge started his Alameda Unified career in 2000 as instructional vice principal at Alameda High School. He also served as Alameda Unified's director of secondary and career technical education and principal of the Alameda Science and Technology Institute early college magnet high school, which Sherratt credited him with saving from closure. Vital tapped him to serve as the district’s assistant superintendent in 2010.

He also worked for the past decade to complete his doctorate in administration, planning and social policy at Harvard in 2013, and he resigned his job as assitant superintendent shortly after graduation. This past June he was hired on as the Alameda County Office of Education's interim director of student programs and services, his LinkedIn profile shows.

McPhetridge will step in to run the school district as it seeks to fully implement the new Common Core standards in classrooms and to initiate a second round of magnet and innovative school programs – a project he spearheaded. Schools leaders are also seeking voter approval of a $179.5 million bond program in November.

The district is also set in January to begin negotiations for a new contract for teachers, Hyman said; the current one expires in July of 2015.

“We hope that he’ll bring a fresh perspective to ongoing discussions,” she said. “As we prepare for labor negotiations, we hope he will come to the table with authentic proposals that show how (Alameda Education Association) members are valued by the district.”

McPhetridge was selected by the board for the interim position in mid-July; district spokeswoman Susan Davis said more than a dozen people applied for the interim job. His contract grants him an annual salary of $180,000 plus a stipend for his advanced degree and benefits, though it has him on the job for 10 months, through June 30, 2015.

He will replace Vital, who left on August 1 for a job as superintendent of the Capistrano Unified School District. Assistant Superintendent Barbara Adams has been running the district since Vital left.

Sherratt said schools leaders will begin their search for a permanent superintendent early next year, after new school board members are seated. Sherratt opted not to run for re-election and will be stepping off the board in December.

“It’ll be their decision,” she said.


Submitted by Albert (not verified) on Wed, Aug 13, 2014

Let's hope that one of his first orders of business is to reduce sprinkler usage on the playing fields!

Submitted by david (not verified) on Thu, Aug 14, 2014

Albert - that is an easy fix - have you contacted the MOF dept? maintenance & operations certainly is in charge of how the grounds are maintained. Robbie Ling is the director of MOF, you shouldn't even have to go that high up the chain unless you are repeatedly ignored by maintenance supervisors. Trust me, they don't want to pay for wasted water, but from their offices, they can't ever be completely aware of what is going on in the field. Respectfully inform them. The Super has to deal with the majors. Irrigation is minor league.