Sam Neustadt has entered the race for Yolo County superintendent of schools, which will be decided in a June 3 election.
Neustadt has lived in Yolo County for nearly 20 years, and currently resides in Woodland. Since 2000, he has been assistant superintendent of the Solano Special Education Local Planning Area. He also worked for the California Department of Education from 1998 to 2000 as an administrator in the area of special education. In addition, he was an elementary school principal in the San Mateo-Foster City school district from 1993 to 1998, and an elementary school principal in Half Moon Bay from 1990 to 1993. He was also a teacher in Half Moon Bay and San Francisco during the 1980s.
Neustadt did his undergraduate studies at UC Santa Barbara, graduating in 1979. He earned a master’s degree in education administration from San Francisco State in 1989.
This will be his first campaign for elected office. “I’ve got about 28 years of experience as an educator, but I am a political novice,” he told The Enterprise.
The incumbent, Yolo County Superintendent Jorge Ayala, is retiring. Ayala was elected in 1998 (beating Suzanne Falzone) and he ran unopposed in 2002, 2006 and 2010.
The county superintendent’s office provides fiscal oversight for all school districts within the county, including a budget review that analyzes a school district’s projected revenue and expenses three years into the future. The county superintendent’s office is also responsible for educating students at Juvenile Hall, and the county superintendent also overseees programs for students with disabilities. In Yolo County, the county superintendent is also involved with Head Start preschool programs. The County Office of Education also handles payroll functions for county school districts.
Neustadt is running at a time when the position of county superintendent is changing as a result of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula (or LCFF, which is reorganizing state funding for K-12 school districts, the biggest overhaul in education funding in decades). As part of the LCFF, school districts will be required to adopt a Local Control and Accountability Plan, detailing how state funds are being used by the local school district, and the county superintendent will be charged with reviewing the LCAPs for school districts in the county.
“This is a historic time for California’s public schools,” Neustadt said. “I will ensure students, teachers and districts are all well-supported, while guaranteeing accountability the public requires. The Yolo County Office of Education should fe focused on ‘value added’ partnerships with our districts.”
Neustadt’s campaign will officially get underway with a kickoff event on Jan. 19, hosted by former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin and Davis school board trustee Susan Lovenburg, who have endorsed Neustadt. For details, visit www.samneustadt.com.
In addition to Neustadt, a second candidate appears to be preparing to enter the race — Jesse Ortiz, who serves on the Yolo County Board of Education (representing a portion of Woodland). Ortiz has not made a formal announcement thus far, but he has a partially completed website “under construction” that indicates he intends to run for Yolo County superintendent.
The formal nomination period — during which candidates can file papers with the Yolo County Elections Office — is Feb. 10 to March 7.