On June 29, El Dorado County Deputy Superintendent Jeremy Meyers will be running the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. On July 1, he’ll need all the endurance he didn’t use in the run as he steps into the superintendency. Dr. Vicki Barber retires after 19 years as El Dorado County School Superintendent on June 30 and Meyers has been appointed to fill the final year of her term of office.
This will be the first year Meyers, 42, participates in the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile trail run and he’s using it as a fundraiser to continue a legacy from Barber — annual scholarships.
“I’ve been trying for a long time to get into Western States,” said Meyers, “and I don’t want to waste the opportunity.”
He mostly likely won’t waste this opportunity to serve as superintendent, as the EDCOE Board of Trustees’ choice to make sure of a smooth, stable transition to a new superintendent.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with an extraordinary leader for almost 10 years and I have a depth and breadth of experience with EDOCE,” said Meyers. “This is a complex organization — it takes time to understand the scope of what we do here and the culture of how we operate.”
Meyers has worked for EDCOE for nine years — as associate superintendent for Educational Services and Information Technology; executive director for Human Resources and Information Technology and executive director of Charter Community School and Extended Day before becoming deputy superintendent.
The Cool resident worked as assistant principal and principal of Golden Sierra High School in the Black Oak Mine Unified School District before coming to EDCOE. He was a history and social science teacher at his high school alma mater at Burroughs High School in Ridgecrest and was chosen as Teacher of the Year.
“My first year I taught five different classes in five different classrooms,” he said.
Replacing a very community involved leader after 19 years is a challenge, but one Meyers appears ready to take on. “The most important challenge will be to maintain the level of support and excellence Vicki has fashioned. We are a service-oriented organization for children, parents, schools and the community at large. Maintaining that legacy will be the greatest good I can do as I come up to speed,” said Meyers.
Addressing current issues in education, Meyers said, “This is a very interesting time in public education, in terms of finance, instructional technology and new instructional standards like the Common Core. We (EDCOE) traditionally step in to do all we can to fill the needs of our districts, but we also help them grapple with emerging issues like the Local Control Funding Formula and Common Core standards and we look at how we can advocate for them on a state-wide level.”
“We’ve had five brutal years — districts had to cut programs, employee groups went without raises even as the cost of benefits went up and Proposition 30 didn’t provide any new money for 2012-2013, it just stopped additional cuts,” said Meyers. “There will be additional money in future years, but we don’t know what that would look like under the Local Control Funding Formula.”
Meyers sees EDCOE being a hub for economy of scale. “We already do a lot of that, with hosting the student information systems and e-mail, maintaining payroll records and a state of the art network, but we must look at how we can combine efforts and resources to offer programs that individual districts wouldn’t be able to offer.”
School District Consolidation
“Consolidation is something districts absolutely need to look at, but just because we have 15 school districts doesn’t mean we have 15 superintendents, 15 maintenance supervisors or 15 chief financial officers. There’s a great deal of sharing and collaborating that has been happening for a long time: from transportation to food services and maintenance and administration,” said Meyers. “There are a lot of questions and we need to know how Governor Brown’s proposal and local control funding will impact the feasibility of consolidation.”
“Students enjoy connecting with each other,” said Meyers.”We have to provide both non-traditional and traditional classroom services. The students of today are using technology independent of the classroom and the undercurrent is so strong that it is going to create change. It’s up to educators to get out in front of this and design a classroom for the 21st century that will help students focus and hone their skills.”
Testing and School Accountability
“The new Common Core standards are a focus on thinking and processing and a return to getting back to the art of teaching,” said Meyers. “Teachers tell me they find it refreshing to be able to focus on depth of subject matter instead of teaching how to take tests. But since the STAR testing ends in 2014, we don’t yet know what accountability will look like in California and how we will meet the No Child Left Behind requirements.”
Already part of several statewide curriculum and public instruction committees, Meyers plans to continue that involvement as Superintendent. “I’d like to see El Dorado County becoming a leader statewide in the implementation of Common Core standards so our involvement in those committees is critically important. We want to have a voice in what’s happening. It’s a time of diminishing resources, but it’s nevertheless exciting.”
Meyers serves on the Western Slope Boys and Girls Club and the El Dorado Community Foundation Board and has been accepted into the American Leadership Forum program for 2014. With all of that going on, a new job and a family of four children ranging in age from college to kindergarten, how does he find time to train for a 100-mile race?
“I work in morning and evening runs and do long runs on weekends between family time,” Meyers said. “My wife is a saint. Running keeps me healthy and creates a balance in my life. I do my best thinking when I’m running.”
His wife, Mary Ann, works half-time as the special education coordinator in the Mother Lode Union School District and half-time as a school psychologist for EDCOE.
Meyers acknowledges the challenge of replacing Barber. “Vicki has been so extraordinary in her 19 years of service as superintendent and the largest challenge of any incoming superintendent will be to maintain that level of service and excellence, but we have an extraordinary team of people at EDCOE and in our districts who provide the means to make this daunting job entirely doable,” he said.
Meyers’ appointment as County Superintendent is effective through 2014. He intends to run for the four-year term of the position at the primary election in June of 2014.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.