Residents speak out on superintendent
By JOHN MILLER
September 5, 2019
Parents, teachers, school staff members,
and retired school administrators gathered at the Cruickshank
Middle School’s gym last Thursday evening as the nationwide
search gets started for the next superintendent of the Merced
City School District.
The current superintendent, Dr. RoseMary
Parga Duran, recently announced her retirement which will
begin on Dec. 31. Duran has worked in the district for 34
years, including 11 years as superintendent.
During the public forum, residents were invited to speak
their mind about what they would like to see from the Merced
City School District’s next leader. Those in attendance
touched on everything from personality traits and general
disposition to leadership styles and overall vision for
Most agreed the district should bring someone on board
who was approachable by all community members as well as
teachers, school staff, and site administration. Some speakers
noted that it would be preferable if the next superintendent
had experience teaching inside of a classroom — particularly
an elementary and middle school classroom.
“I’m looking for someone to be a champion for
all of our kids,” noted one community member. “I
want someone who will get into the water with us with both
Others pointed to the importance of working with teachers
in order to close educational attainment gaps and raise
students learning to a new level.
“Our students need to be given what they need to
learn,” one parent explained. “They have dwindling
resources, especially at the lower levels, and from what
I can tell, they seem to just provide a teacher and a classroom.”
Residents also pointed out that as Merced has grown, so
too has the set of community assets available to local schools,
such as UC Merced, Merced College, the Multicultural Arts
Center, Merced Theatre, and numerous community-focused organizations.
As mention of Merced’s long established community
college and its new university entered the conversation,
some participants spoke up about the importance of classes
like woodshop and home economics to encourage more well-rounded
students. Some suggested the next leader look to bring these
classes back into the district.
“Removing woodshop and home-ec. classes was a mistake,”
one person pointed out. “They provided those who may
or may not end up going to college a way to leave school
with a basic working set of skills — like how to balance
Thursday night’s public forum was the last of three
meetings. The public forums were considered the second step
in a nine-step process of bringing in a new leader for the
Merced City School District. Community and staff input now
will be passed along to the Board of Trustees as a final
job description and recruitment process is developed.
The deadline for applications is Sept. 30, with the Board
of Trustees interviewing candidates on Oct. 25 and 26. The
new superintendent is expected to start leading the district