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French wrapping up duties in Davis district

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April 14, 2011 |

Deputy superintendent Kevin French is wrapping up his duties with the Davis school district over the next few weeks. He’s scheduled to start his new job as associate superintendent for administrative services with the Acalanes Union High School District in Contra Costa County on April 30.

The new job will include many of the same kinds of human resources duties that he’s had in Davis for the past few years.

French started with the Davis district in August 2006, coming from a job as a high school principal in the Fairfield-Suisun school district. French initially served in Davis as director of student services, but in less than a year he became the district’s assistant superintendent for human resources — running the department that hires new teachers, principals, and so on.

During the roughly four years that French has been handling human resources for the Davis school district, there have been many, many transitions, with new principals coming in at most of the district’s campuses, as well as several new administrators at the district office.

The past few years also have included drastic budget cuts and annual rounds of layoff notices in the spring, largely as a result of the ongoing state budget crisis. And those cutbacks and layoff notices inevitably have gone through the human resources department as well.

As Davis school board trustee Susan Lovenburg put it, “Kevin has had one of the most difficult jobs in the district for the past four years. He participated in identifying educational programs for reduction and personally delivered layoff notices to those affected. He served as lead negotiator at the bargaining table as we asked our employees to accept salary reductions.”

“Despite this,” Lovenburg continued, “Kevin is highly respected and well liked for carrying out this work with integrity, honesty and a healing sense of humor. He’s been an anchor for us in stormy waters and he will be greatly missed. We wish him well.”

French also took on additional duties along the way. About three years ago, when the Davis district eliminated the position of associate superintendent for educational services as a budget cutting move, French — as a former high school principal — took on oversight of the district’s junior high and high school programs. Clark Bryant, another district office administrator who formerly served as an elementary school principal, took on oversight of the district’s elementary campuses.

French told The Enterprise in an interview Wednesday that the multiple capacities in which he’s served during his years in Davis were a tremendous opportunity for growth.

“It has been a great opportunity,” French said. “I don’t think I could have been in a district that offered more positive experiences in this amount of time.”

French said he particularly enjoyed “the relationships with our district’s new administrators” that he helped hire. “You know, the ‘mentor’ sometimes learns more than the ‘mentee.’ That’s how I felt about being here.”

Even though he’ll still be doing human resources work in his new job, French’s position with the Acalanes district in Contra Costa County also will be different in some ways. Davis has around 8,500 students spread over grades K-12. Acalanes has around 5,400 students spread across grades 9-12.

“Acalanes has four high schools, serving four different communities, with four mayors and city councils to work with, as well as the relationships with several K-8 feeder districts,” French said.

With French departing for Acalanes, Superintendent Winfred Roberson announced on Tuesday that Matt Best, principal of the Da Vinci Charter School program — which has high school level classes on the Valley Oak campus and junior high level classes at Emerson Junior High — will be moving to the district office as interim director of human resources, while a search is organized for a new associate superintendent. Best started in the interim position on Thursday. A trio of Da Vinci teachers and counselors will handle administrative decisions at Da Vinci on an interim basis.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8055.

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