2017-06-01 / Editorials

What about Bob?

EDITORIAL
Acorn Editorial Board

Is the Conejo Valley school board making its search for an interim superintendent more difficult than it needs to be?

It’s been two months now since current chief of schools Ann Bonitatibus announced she was leaving at the end of June, and still her replacement remains a mystery. Because of the bad timing of Bonitatibus’ resignation—after most qualified candidates have already been hired by other districts—the board has decided it won’t pick a new permanent superintendent until next spring, necessitating an interim who can steer the CVUSD ship for an entire school year, and a critical year at that.

While we see the value in not rushing a choice, it seems a waste of time and energy—and further evidence of the board’s current inability to function as a cohesive unit—to spend weeks meeting and discussing the matter when there’s a qualified candidate right under their noses.

Assistant Superintendent Robert Iezza has served Conejo Valley Unified faithfully for 30 years, starting out as a teacher before rising through the ranks from dean to assistant principal to principal to district department head. He’s trusted by staff and liked by parents.

The current head of instruction for the district, Iezza (pronounced “yate-zah”) was responsible for preparing staff, students and parents for the national Common Core standards and the related assessment test, a giant undertaking he accomplished effectively.

Iezza knows the district, and the community, inside and out. He lives here. His children went to school here. Sure, he grew up in Glendale, but Iezza has called the Conejo Valley home since 1983. And we’re not suggesting he should be named interim superintendent simply because he’s a local; we’re saying he’s the right candidate to shepherd the district through the difficult year that lies ahead.

Face it: CVUSD needs time to heal. Bonitatibus’ brief stint with the district has been marked by numerous changes to the status quo and by long periods of public unrest. Hired to upset the apple cart, Bonitatibus did just that—but along the way she upset some longtime district employees as well.

What better way to begin to mend those relationships than by hiring someone so many staffers know and trust?

Iezza, at one time a physical education teacher, may not be a decorated scholar in academia, but he knows the long-term issues facing CVUSD—declining enrollment, the relocation of Conejo Valley High School, etc.—better than anyone else on staff. That institutional knowledge could prove crucial in the year ahead, as CVHS moves into the district office, scattering employees and programs elsewhere.

One reason cited for not considering Iezza or another department head is that their position must then be filled, creating more work. That might be true, but there’s too much at stake to let that be the deciding factor.

Pick Iezza and pick him soon. There’s much work to be done.

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