San Luis Coastal Unified School District picks superintendent to replace Ed Valentine

Eric Prater will be the new superintendent for San Luis Coastal Unified School District if the school board approves his three-year contract Tuesday.

Prater, the superintendent of the Byron Union School District in Contra Costa County, was selected from a pool of 34 candidates.

Prater’s first day with the school district would be Aug. 1. His contract calls for him to earn $170,000 a year, with a 2 percent salary increase for each year that he receives a positive performance evaluation from the school board.

Retired Superintendent Ed Valentine, who held the post for five years, earned $195,561 annually. His last day was June 30.

An annual 2 percent increase is not unusual, said Walt Millar, school board president, who added that it mimics the step-and-column increase granted to teaching and classified employees.

“It has been part of our administration agreement for some time,” Millar said.

The district will pay up to $5,000 in relocation costs to assist Prater’s family — which includes his wife and three boys (ages 9, 7 and 2) — in relocating from the Bay Area.

The district will also pay Prater a per diem rate for expenses incurred while training with Valentine and district staff prior to his official start date.

Other annual compensation outlined in Prater’s employment contract includes a $5,000 contribution toward medical and dental insurance premiums, 15 days of sick leave and 24 days of vacation.

Prater said his first goal is to get to know the people comprising the school district.

“I want to find out what is important to the staff, the board and to the community,” Prater said. “I don’t want to come into the district and assume things. I believe that it is relationships that make a great school district.”

Prater was superintendent at the Byron school district for three years. Prior to that, he was a middle school principal in Brentwood, also in Contra Costa County, where he was charged with transitioning the school from a fifth- and sixth-grade composition to that of a traditional middle school with sixth, seventh and eighth grades. He has been involved in education since 1992.

He is a graduate of St. Mary’s College with a background in economic and organizational leadership. He has a doctorate in organizational management from the University of LaVerne.

“San Luis Obispo and the Central Coast is a place that we’ve always loved,” Prater said. “I’ve always been an opportunistic person, and I love a challenge.”

Millar, who recently spent time with fellow board members Mark Buchman and Kathryn Eisendrath-Rogers at the Byron school district, said he was struck by how well known Prater is within the community there.

Millar said he was also impressed by Prater’s efforts to bridge existing economic and ethnic divisions within the community.

“He is visionary in that regard,” Millar said. “I appreciate his sensitivity to where students come from and to what their needs are.”