A local elementary school principal will replace John Rogers as superintendent of the Atascadero Unified School District.
Deborah Bowers, who will take the district’s top administrative post, currently is the principal of Creston and Santa Margarita elementary schools. She had spent four years as superintendent of the Templeton Unified School District, stepping down last June.
Bowers said her time in Templeton taught her how to work with “a diverse group of people with a variety of opinions, (to) bring a consensus and move forward with tough decisions.”
“I’m looking forward to making things better, creating opportunities,” she added. “This is a place that’s moving forward.”
Bowers, who was hired with a three-year contract, will earn an annual salary of $141,135 as the Atascadero superintendent. She starts work July 1 pending board approval.
Atascadero school board President George Galvan announced the news at a Tuesday school board meeting.
“I have no doubt that she’ll do the job very well,” he said, adding that Bowers has a good reputation within the district. “Not only the staff, but the parents really think a lot of her.”
The district received 30 applications for the superintendent position and interviewed four finalists. According to county schools Superintendent Julian Crocker, Atascadero Unified wanted a superintendent with strong communication skills and an intimate understanding of the district and its challenges.
“She’s a very good listener. She is very thoughtful,” Crocker said of Bowers. “Her decisions are always geared around, ‘What impact will this have on the instructional program?’ ”
“What put (Bowers) above the other applicants was her education and her experience as a former superintendent,” Galvan said.
In addition to her doctorate from USC, Bowers has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from CSU, Bakersfield.
Her experience as an educator includes seven years as principal of Vineyard Elementary School in Templeton as well as teaching stints in Anaheim and Bakersfield.
It’s uncertain at this point who will replace Bowers as principal at Creston and Santa Margarita.
As Atascadero Unified superintendent, Bowers will oversee the education of about 5,000 students at eight elementary schools, a junior high school and two high schools.
She’ll also supervise several school construction and renovation projects funded by a $117 million bond measure.
Finding substitute classroom space for students will be crucial during the early steps of that process, Bowers said.
She also plans to focus on curriculum — teaching critical thinking skills and creativity in a way that’s relevant to students’ lives.
Bowers acknowledged that she faces several challenges at Atascadero, including dropping enrollment, low revenues and a bleak budget forecast.
“We still have kids that are going through school for the first time,” Bowers said. “They shouldn’t have to suffer. We still have to give them the best learning experience.”