Jim Hogeboom

A message from Superintendent,

  Jim Hogeboom... 

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4/02/10 > Spring Has Sprung!
3/17/10 > Budget Update #2
2/19/10 > 21st Century Learning Skills Community Forum

As I mentioned in a previous message, we are in the midst of defining our mission, vision, and values this year that will help guide us towards excellence. As part of this process, we are planning Community Forums to promote discussion and dialogue concerning the type of district we want to be, and the types of skills our students need to be successful in the world.

We invite you to join us at the Clark Center for Performing Arts for an exciting and informative evening at our first Community Forum on Tuesday, March 30, as we ask respected education and business leaders for their thoughts on what skills students need to learn in order to be successful in the 21st Century. Our three education guest speakers include Warren Baker, President of California Polytechnic State University; José Ortiz, Superintendent/President of Allan Hancock College; and, Gil Stork, Interim Superintendent/President of Cuesta College. Business representatives on the panel include Keith Lovgren, Senior Program Manager for Pacific Gas and Electric, Inc., and Bernie Trilling, Global Director of the Oracle Education Foundation. Panelists will share unique perspectives and insights to help us learn how to better prepare our students for the future.

This forum is the first in a series sponsored by the board of education of the Lucia Mar Unified School District as we work to develop a compelling vision for our future. The second forum is planned for May 25 - more details will follow. Forums are open to all Lucia Mar students, staff, parents, and other members of our community. Again, the first forum will be held on Tuesday, March 30, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are free, but seating is limited. Click Here for Tickets. If you have any questions, please call our office at 474-3000, ext 1080.

Hope to see you all there!!

2/04/10 > Budget Update #1
Dear Lucia Mar Unified School District Colleagues and Community:

These are very difficult and trying times for education. As the economy continues in a recession and our nation and state struggle to address budget shortfalls, education continues to face unprecedented budget cuts. Last year in Lucia Mar we projected to cut $9 million dollars in deep cuts to balance our budget (the actual revenue limit funding lost since FY 2007-2008 is $9,162,246 in part due to declining enrollment) and fortunately we were able to add back about $3.5 million with one time money. The shortfall for the FY 2010-2011 budget, at this point in time, is estimated to be at least an additional $5 million. It is no accident that our district thematic goal this year is “Working Together to Achieve Results and Pride,” and as we are yet again faced with such dismal financial news, it will be even more imperative that we work together to find solutions to address these brutal cuts. The purpose of this letter is to share with our school employees and our community news about our budget and how the proposed Governor’s Budget for FY 2010-2011 will affect us all. I will continue to share weekly budget updates as the year progresses.

Although Governor Schwarzenegger said in his State of the State address on January 6, 2010, that he would protect education funding, this did not happen. He proposes a reduction of $1.5 billion for school districts which is an additional cut to revenue limits. The governor directly attacks school leaders by proposing a $1.2 billion reduction, or $201 per ADA, in central office, plant and instructional administration which, in our district, has already been drastically reduced over several years of continued budget cuts, with no corresponding reduction of mandated state and federal record-keeping and reporting. Of further concern is that his proposed budget is predicated on increased federal funds of almost $7 billion. Recent news from Washington reports this is extremely unlikely to be funded, further increasing the possibility that last year’s “one-time” cut of $252 per student is now likely to be made permanent.

The state provided some solutions to assist schools during FY 2009-2010. Districts were given the opportunity to “sweep” and “flex” identified restricted “Tier III” programs; our reserve requirements were allowed to reduce from 3% to 1.5%; the school year could be reduced from 180 student days to 175 days; and there was some flexibility with Class Size Reduction (CSR) requirements, which allows the district to raise class sizes yet still receive funds if we remain below the 29:1 ratio for grades K-3. However, these options do not provide us with much relief as we try to figure out how to come up with an additional $5 million in ongoing reductions.

Mary Stark, Deputy Superintendent of Business, recently prepared the FY 2009-2010 First Interim Financial Report, which was presented to the board on January 19 and adopted on January 26, 2010. This report includes multi-year projections through FY 2011-2012, which looks to be even worse (FY 2011-2012 is often referred to as the “cliff year” when federal stimulus funds are no longer available to help offset some of the budget cuts and the economy is still not projected to rebound). Her estimate of a projected additional $5 million in cuts for the FY 2010-2011 budget means we need to begin planning now. Once again, I will convene a Budget Review Committee, meetings begin today, Thursday, February 4, and we will meet through early April. Committee members will be asked to make their recommendations to me for suggested reductions and revenue enhancements. In the meantime, we must still plan for layoffs and since initial layoff notices must be delivered by March 15, 2010, the Superintendent’s Cabinet has been analyzing the budget carefully. While there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the state budget and thus the impact on the Lucia Mar budget, we must plan immediately so we can explore our options and maintain fiscal stability.

Similar to last year, we will look for potential reductions in every area: materials, supplies, and staffing (teaching, management, and classified). However, until the budget corrects, school districts across the state will be spending significant time in the late winter and early spring critically looking at all revenues and expenditures that support their programs. Lucia Mar's students and staff performed admirably last year in spite of the stress and heartache associated with layoffs. Once again, we will go about our business of teaching and learning with the understanding that more changes, reductions, and hardship will be shared by all levels and all departments.

It is my goal to keep you informed as much as possible as we move forward over these next several weeks and months. Frequent, regular communications will come forward that detail every aspect of our budget, and I will summarize information shared and learned at the Budget Review Committee meetings. My Cabinet and I will work collaboratively with our bargaining units to ensure that our district maintains its fiscal solvency, while providing for the education of all students in the Lucia Mar Unified School District. The school board and I are committed to listening to the input of our employees and our community so we can share our best thinking and ideas, and we hope to be able to minimize the disruption, pain and impact of these brutal budget cuts on our students and our employees.
1/19/10 > Visioning, Racing, Budgeting
“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with vision is making a positive difference.” - Joel Barker

As we begin to look ahead to 2010 and try to make a positive difference, one of our keys to success as a district is for all of us to be on the same page. In order for us to be really successful, we must have a compelling vision of where we want to be in five years. While we have set yearly SMART goals since I have been here, it has not been clear where we want to be in the longer term. Without that vision to guide us, it is not possible to focus our efforts or to focus our resources on what are the most important priorities for our school district. As we navigate these unchartered budget difficulties, it is even more imperative that we develop a laser-like focus on what we need to do to be a great school district.

If Lucia Mar was truly an excellent school district, one of the top 5 in the nation, what would we be doing that we are not doing now? What does “excellence” really look like, and how do we get there? I posed this question to our school board earlier in the year, and we are exploring what it would mean to achieve that vision. We have started to explore what skills our students need to be successful in the 21st Century; we are going to visit two innovative education models, the Tracy Learning Center and Napa’s High Tech High, and we want to gather input from every school staff as well as the community. I will be visiting every school over the next few months to get your ideas for where we want to be, and what is most important. We can’t do everything. We must prioritize what is most important so we can prepare our students well for this ever-changing world. What skills do we need to give them so they have a competitive advantage, both nationally and internationally?

In addition to meeting with administrators, certificated and classified staff, we will also be conducting community forums to hear what our community has to say. While we will be focused on the “big picture” for our school district, we also need a vision that is achievable and practical so it can really guide our daily efforts. It is my hope that the school board will adopt a meaningful vision, mission, purpose and student outcomes by our June board meeting so we can then work on how to go about implementing this vision. That will give us next year to clarify exactly what we need to do, and to try and make sure we have the resources to pull it off. If we don’t have the staff development, technology, collaboration time and training necessary to make the vision a reality, it will just lead to frustration and stress. We will also need to continue to work together closely so teachers, classified staff and administrators can all provide guidance and input to develop a workable system to help us achieve our vision.

One of the resources I hope will be helpful to us is the Race To The Top (RTTT) initiative. Lucia Mar was the only school district in the county to apply for this grant, and while this program is not perfect, I believe it does coincide closely with most of our key goals and initiatives we already have under way. There are four key components to RTTT: standards and assessments, data systems to support instruction, great teachers and leaders, and turning around the lowest achieving schools. We are not sure whether California will be selected to receive one of the grants, and we also don’t know how much money will be distributed to our school district. However, we have begun discussions with LMUTA to agree on some of the key elements should the RTTT be funded, including the key aspect of how we hire, develop and reward great teachers and leaders, and I am excited about the possibilities to revamp our teacher and principal evaluation system, provide more training, and to use data to inform our instruction. We will keep you informed of our progress as we work together to improve our systems.

Finally, we know that our education system is still facing budget cuts over the next several years. While we do not anticipate having to make mid-year cuts, we still will have to make more cuts for the 2010-2011 school year, and 2011-2012 looks even worse as federal stimulus dollars dry up. I am once again convening a Budget Review Committee (BRC) to help me review every department and school and to make recommendations to me as to possible areas to make cuts. The BRC has their first meeting on February 4, and will meet most Thursdays at the Fireside Room, Student Services Support Center, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. until April. The meetings are open to the public, and I invite you to attend.

Once again, we have tough decisions to make. Once again, the board and I will need your help to make these decisions. I look forward to meeting with you all over the coming months so you can help us to not only survive the budget cuts but also to help us create a clear and compelling vision for the future. If we are to not only survive but to thrive, we need to define excellence and plan for it. After all, our students’ future is at stake, and they need to be prepared for that future now.
12/18/09 > Holidays and Relationships

"Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.


Holidays can be tough!!  Over the Thanksgiving break, I had the opportunity to attend the Cal-Stanford football game (the Bears squeaked out a victory!) and spend the week with my family up in the Bay Area.  While at first we were very excited for this time together, after a few days with my mom, dad, sisters, in-laws, nephews and the rest of our brood, returning home to Arroyo Grande seemed like a dream!  I don't know about you, but even though I love all of my family members dearly, being with them in close proximity for too long brings out all of our old history and our old wounds.  We will do anything to help each other, but at times we can also really get on each other's nerves, say some things we later regret, and hurt each other's feelings.  I guess that's what happens with families, and with any group of people that spends a lot of time together:  we all go through good times and bad times.  Hopefully we get through the tough times and emerge having learned something about ourselves and each other, still able to respect each other, and still able to forgive, even when it is hard!


In many respects, our school district is like a family:  we spend a lot of time together, we know each other well, some of us have developed close friends or at least good acquaintances, and we go through good and bad times together.  As we all know, last year was a very trying time on a number of fronts.  Fortunately, we learned from our mistakes, and the lack of trust and communication that was evident last year is being replaced with frequent conversations and confidence in our ability to work together for the good of all.  This gives me much hope and faith that we can rebuild the trust and collaboration that are essential for a strong relationship. 


As I mentioned in the last district newsletter, a small representative group of board members, district administrators, LMUTA reps and CSEA reps met in November to see what we could do to mend fences and improve our working relationships.  We began by discussing the benefits of working together, and why this is so important.  We all agreed that better morale, mutual respect, understanding why and how decisions are made, long term planning, having a shared vision, success in implementing change, a focus on ensuring student achievement,  achieving our goals and becoming a great school district were all the reasons why our working together is so important.  We then discussed what changes will help us to improve the way we work together and what commitments we will make jointly to improve our working relationships.  We will follow up this initial first step by sticking to our agreements and having some further discussions about how we can continue to work together productively (please see attached meeting notes for more details.)


Many steps have already been taken.  We have found that at the district level, our regular meetings are really helping us to make better decisions by collaborating and sharing ideas with our union partners BEFORE we actually make decisions.  Trying to better understand each other's perspective also helps us to make mutually beneficial choices, and frequent conversations help to make sure that everyone understands why certain decisions are made.  I have been very pleased with our relationship with union presidents Kevin Statom and Edie Cajas; both are great listeners and both present their positions clearly and openly.  They are also willing to listen to different perspectives and are open to new ideas.


As we move ahead and rise to meet the many challenges facing education today-budget cuts, increased accountability, the demand for 21st Century Skills, the achievement gap, and the drop out rate-I am again hopeful that our improved ability to work together will help us to meet these challenges.  And just like in a family, I know we will have our disagreements, but I also know that we need each other if we are to achieve our goals.  The stakes are too high for us not to succeed-our students' success in the world is dependent upon our ability to work together.


I hope that 2010 is an exciting, interesting and memorable year for you all. As you head into extended time with your families, remember that forgiveness and patience are two great virtues!!  Spend time with those you treasure most and relax, rest, laugh, do the things you love and have a wonderful winter break!!  


click here to read about  WORKING TOGETHER NOTES 



11/19/09 > Assessment Brief
Assessment Use in the Lucia Mar Unified School District
Briefing Paper written by Superintendent Jim Hogeboom
November 19, 2009

Some teachers have commented to me recently that not only are we testing too frequently, but also that some of these assessments are not providing useful information and take away from instructional time. They point out the limits to multiple choice, Scantron assessments and argue that if our students are really to succeed in the 21st Century, they need to be able to have the kinds of critical thinking skills mentioned by President Obama. I completely agree that we need to do more to teach and assess 21st Century skills, but that in the meantime we do need to utilize common assessments to measure and provide feedback as to how our students are doing in meeting the “basic” skills outlined in our priority standards. Using common assessments regularly is going to help us achieve dramatic improvements in student learning-- if we use the results properly. I would like to elaborate on what I see as the main purposes of an effective assessment system and how it should be implemented.

From my perspective, the most important purpose of any assessment is to use the results to provide feedback to students as to how they are doing compared to our learning expectations and standards. The second purpose of an assessment is to inform the teacher as to what areas of learning need attention. Pre-assessments are especially helpful in this regard, especially if a large number of students already “know” the standard. Conversely, if large numbers don’t know a particular area, the teacher can spend more time teaching to that content. Post-assessments are also helpful so teachers can see the growth of each student, what standards need to be re-taught, as well as to determine who needs more intensive interventions. They also can help teachers to have a discussion in a Professional Learning Community about what instructional strategies are most effective in teaching the standards.

It is my hope that we are using a variety of assessments to measure results. So while multiple choice tests are the easiest to grade, they also provide more limited information and are not able to measure many higher order critical thinking skills. Especially in areas of science, social studies, physical education and electives, I would hope we are using more authentic assessments such as rubrics to measure student performance. Rubrics are very helpful to measure a variety of skills, including writing, presentations, teamwork, and a variety of performance skills. Project-based learning (PBL), in particular, relies heavily on authentic assessments to measure student success, and studies show PBL is a very successful way to teach higher order thinking skills.

Using SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals in conjunction with assessment data is the best way to set clear expectations, and to know how we are doing in reaching our goals. This does increase accountability-- for students, teachers, principals and superintendents. Each of us has set clear goals, and we all know if we are achieving success or not. This is a good thing! I feel strongly that this kind of accountability is going to help us all to improve because assessment data lets us know where we are doing well and where we need to improve. It demonstrates clearly what students are really learning and how we can help support them to grow, and lets us channel resources into supporting this growth.

I believe our district is making substantial progress in our quest to maximize student learning and improve our results. We are getting better at using data to inform instruction, and to know what assessment information is really telling us about student learning. We have identified the most important standards, have developed pacing guides, and are measuring student progress towards those standards in a myriad of ways. Grade level benchmark assessments, DIBELS, and common formative assessments are helping us to learn what is working best. Professional learning communities are helping us to have the time and build the trust so we can analyze data and share effective instructional practices with each other. As Robert Marzano points out in his research on instructional strategies, tracking student progress and scoring scales have a demonstrated percentile gain of 34%, higher than any other practice (second at 25% is setting goals and objectives, which we are also doing.) Certainly we need to be paying attention to much more than just data—our students need nurturing, guidance in how to treat others, support and positive feedback, and to feel connected to adults. Our primary mission is to make sure they are prepared in all ways—academically and socially—to be successful at the next level.

While it may take some time for all teachers and administrators to feel comfortable using all of our new assessment information, I strongly believe our improved ability to use this data wisely to provide student feedback and to inform instruction will make a huge difference in our student achievement results. Our next step will be to figure out what are the most important 21st Century Skills are students need to know—and then determine how to assess them. “Filling in a bubble” is a good first step, but we will need to provide our students with much more feedback on their skills and performance if we are to truly help them grow, learn and compete in a flat world. This is our next big challenge as identified by President Obama:

“I’m calling on our nation’s governors and state education chiefs to develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity.” - President Obama

Please feel free to send my any thoughts or comments you have about assessments; I would love to hear from you at jhogeboom@lmusd.org
11/10/09 > Board Passage of FY 2009-10 District Goals

Board Passage of FY 2009-10 District Goals

At its November 3 regular meeting, the board of education unanimously approved the FY 2009-2010 District Goals. The Thematic Goal for the school year is "Working Together to Achieve Results and Pride." The district has made it a priority to try and work together and collaborate in all respects - between staffs at all school sites; between teachers in professional learning teams; between administrators at all schools; between grade levels to articulate; and, between the district leadership and association groups. This thematic goal is for all district employees; only by working together can Lucia Mar achieve true greatness.

In its quest to improve student learning results, the district has set as its first strategic goal, "Ensure All Students Make Progress." This strategic goal includes six S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals which are intended to move more students from proficient to advanced on state tests, close the achievement gap, and work to: 1) improve the performance of our more advanced learners; 2) increase the number of students taking Algebra in middle school; 3) improve the scores of high school students on college entrance exams; and, 4) improve reading fluency at all levels. Our main priority in this area for the year is the creation of common formative assessments at all grade levels.

The second strategic goal is to "Assess, Leverage and Maximize Resources." During these difficult budget times, we need to do all we can to increase our revenues, develop more partnerships, and be as frugal as possible. Increasing attendance rates, getting input from the Budget Review Committee to make suggestions to the Superintendent for budget recommendations, and aligning the budget with district goals are some metrics also included in this area.

The third strategic goal is to "Improve Teamwork and Collaboration Throughout the Organization." This goal will be measured by a staff survey and entails a myriad of activities at the site and district level, with a key objective of working together for the benefit of all.

Finally, the fourth strategic goal is to "Acknowledge, Communicate and Celebrate Success." Again, this goal will be measured by a staff survey. We hope to do a better job of communicating throughout the district, of making our priorities clear, and of rewarding and celebrating the successes of our students and staff. We have set challenging goals, but I feel these goals are reachable and will put us on a continued course to improve student learning in Lucia Mar.

We made significant academic gains last year, and even with the present challenges I am confident we will meet our ambitious goals for the 2009-10 school year - if we all work together!

Thanks in advance to all of our employees for their professionalism, caring, hard-work, teamwork, commitment and devotion to our students. Our school district is blessed with fantastic employees, and we are making great progress.

View this link for the 2009-10 LMUSD Thematic Goal, Strategic Goals and Metrics

10/08/09 > Old Goals and New Goals!

Old Goals and New Goals!

"This one thing - committing to a goal and sticking with it - is what makes all the difference!" -A message posted at Kennedy Club Fitness Center

At Tuesday's board meeting, I provided the board of education and audience with a final recap of how we did in meeting our 2008-09 district goals. Under Priority 1, Improve Student Achievement, Lucia Mar students made tremendous academic growth last year, and the credit for this goes to our teachers and administrators. All of us who work hard to support the learning that happens every day in the classroom should feel proud of these results - We achieved the 5% growth in Math (5.4%), and came very close in Language Arts (4.5%), which is great news. While we did not reach our target for closing the achievement gap, we will continue to pursue this goal again this year. In education, sometimes we are so focused on moving on to the next goal that we don't take the time to reflect on what we did well this past year, or where we need to improve. Thanks go to Chuck Fiorentino, Principal at Harloe Elementary, who suggested we take time to additionally review and update everyone on last year's goals before we refocus on this year's. Some of you heard the update Tuesday evening, and I hope to reach more of you with this message. The recap of 2008-09 goals, including the priorities of ensuring fiscal stability and improving district climate, are available for review by clicking here.

Upon further contemplation, it seems that we need to continue the strong gains in student achievement by focusing on results, developing common formative assessments, using data to drive instruction, and continuing our work in Professional Learning Communities. In terms of our budget, we will continue to take a conservative approach to our finances and make sure we are in the best position possible to deal with any additional losses in state funding. Finally, we need to continue to listen to each other, gather input and suggestions, and find ways to make sure all employees feel a sense of pride while working together for the students of the Lucia Mar Unified School District. This brings us to our current school year, and developing our goals for the 2009-10 school year. As you know by now, our thematic goal this year is "Working Together to Achieve Success and Pride." Under this umbrella goal, we have four strategic goals:

  • Ensure all Students make Progress
  • Improve Teamwork and Collaboration throughout the District
  • Acknowledge, Communicate and Celebrate Success
  • Assess, Leverage, and Maximize Resources

District and site administrators have been working to define what success looks like in each of these four areas by writing specific metrics or SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals under each strategic goal. We are also looking at developing action plans and key objectives as to what we can do to achieve these goals. Our final list of goals, metrics/SMART goals and objectives will be presented to the Board on November 3 for approval. Your input is important to me, so if you have any specific ideas as to what we can do to achieve these goals, please take a minute to let me know.

Finally, I wanted you all to know how much I appreciate all of the hard work that each of you are putting in on behalf of our students. These are indeed trying times with very limited resources, and we are all being asked to do more with less. I am committed to using our resources wisely (strategic goal #4). One way we can do this is to continue funding staff development and training to ensure people have the skills, knowledge, and training to be the best they can be. We will continue responsible review of State Fiscal Stabilization Funds and Categorical Funds toward this effort. Thanks again for all you do every day-you make an incredible difference in the lives of our students!

8/20/09 > Welcome Back! (Start of 2009-10 School Year)
Welcome Back!!!

As we begin the 2009-10 school year, much has changed since I wrote my first Superintendent’s Message to you at this time last year. For many of us, last year was the most difficult we have ever had in education. The state budget crisis resulted in unprecedented and brutal budget cuts to Lucia Mar as well as other school districts throughout the State. The loss of funds affected all of us and impacted every program we offer. Yet even in the face of these severe cutbacks, there is reason for optimism as we start the new school year.

Our district lost over $10 million in state general funds since the beginning of the 2008-09 school year. Our school board made some very difficult decisions, but as a result of deep budget cuts we have been able to balance our budget. Unfortunately, since 92% of our general funds are spent on salaries and benefits, the bulk of these cuts were in personnel. Ninety certificated teachers received their final layoff in May, and we have been able to hire back about thirty of those teachers so far. Some members of our classified staff were also laid off or had their hours reduced. It was painful to have to make these reductions, and we miss our colleagues. We do face difficult challenges with larger class sizes and fewer resources available to help us meet our students' needs. However, our staff has shown it is not only resilient but more than capable of meeting these new challenges ahead. Many members of the community are also stepping forward to offer assistance to our schools and our students.

On the positive side, the deep cuts have put the district in a strong fiscal position. With the steady guidance of our Deputy Superintendent for Business, Mary Stark, it appears we will not have to make further cuts this year. Business office staff is presently analyzing the federal stimulus funds and related requirements to see how these can help us get through the school year. These are one-time funds that must be used in the next two years, so we have to be careful how we use them. We will be presenting a plan to the school board for recommended use of these funds in September.

We also have added great new people to key positions in the district as a result of retirements and restructuring. Michelle Ellis was hired as our new Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, and she has reorganized her department with some new faces and a new attitude of improved customer service. Andy Stenson, former Fairgrove Principal, is our new Director of Student Achievement and brings all of the right skills to help us continue our gains in student achievement. At our school sites, we also have six new principals in our schools. At the elementary level, Brett Gimlin takes over at Nipomo Elementary; Lara Storm at Fairgrove, and Debbie Schimandle at Shell Beach; Ron Walton moved from Nipomo Elementary to Oceano Elementary. At our middle schools, Tom Butler is the new principal of Paulding, moving from Oceano Elementary, and he is joined by new assistant principal Jim Empey. At Judkins Middle School, Ian Penton is the new principal, joined by assistant principal Dan Neff. At Arroyo Grande High School, Mike Mostajo joins the team as the new area administrator.

I am also very excited about the remarkable gains made in our student achievement results from last year on the California Standards Tests. Even with the difficult year we had, our teachers produced gains in student achievement in math and language arts that we have not seen in Lucia Mar for a long time. Overall, math scores jumped by over 5%, and Language Arts by 4%, which is a huge increase over previous years. These gains mean that 401 more students in our district were proficient or advanced in math from the previous year, and that 314 more were proficient or advanced in Language Arts. Thanks to everyone for producing such amazing student learning results.

Finally, I want to mention our Thematic Goal for the year: Working Together to Achieve Results and Pride. My goal is for us to be the best school district in not only our county but also the state. By working together, focusing on results, and restoring pride in Lucia Mar we are well on our way towards meeting this lofty goal. It is important to me that we treat our employees, students and parents right, and that we are known as a class organization that achieves fantastic results. With our strong community and parent support, as well as a strong teaching and support staff, we will rise to the challenges in these tough economic times to ensure our students not only maintain academic excellence but continue to grow and thrive. If you have any suggestions, comments or ideas for how we can improve, please email me at Jhogeboom@lmusd.org. Thanks to everyone for your positive attitude and commitment to our students. It is indeed an honor to serve as your superintendent.
6/29/09 > Budget Status & District Resolution A-0809-25
June 29, 2009

Dear Lucia Mar Employee:

At the board meeting on June 23rd, I recommended and the Board approved a resolution reserving the right to make FY 2009-10 employee compensation reductions should this become necessary due to further budget cuts. The purpose of this letter is to clarify for everyone why this resolution was necessary and where the district stands in relation to the State budget.

As I know you are aware, the State of California continues to face ongoing budget cuts and an unprecedented fiscal crisis. Currently, the State is projecting an estimated $25+ billion deficit in its budget, and this substantial budget shortfall will result in a significant decrease in income for our school district. At present the State legislature is still working to try and pass a budget, 14 days past its June 15 statutory deadline, and this year there is the added incentive to pass a budget so that they do not run out of cash to pay bills. In spite of this pressure to come to an agreement, it is anyone’s guess as to whether this will happen by tomorrow, let alone the next few months. At this point we have no idea as to the severity of the cuts that might be imposed, or any idea as to what, if any, type of salary reduction might become necessary. At tomorrow's special board meeting, the board of education is scheduled to adopt its budget for FY 2009-10. Despite federal and state government budget adoption deadlines often missed in practice, school districts must adopt a balanced budget by a July 1 deadline.

Any action that will have the effect of reducing annual salaries in the 2009-2010 school year would be subject to applicable collective bargaining negotiations. In both of our recently ratified contracts with LMUTA and CSEA Chapter 275, we have agreed that if there is a major change in the State budget that affects our district, either side can re-open negotiations. The goal of the resolution was to be crystal clear about the options that our district and union representatives may have to consider, such as reducing salary, the work year and/or other such enumerated items as referenced in the attached resolution. Any changes to the contract would only be a result of conversations with our unions, and would not be imposed without first having these discussions. It is always the intent of the district to try and work together to find solutions to problems, and I remain committed to this course of action.

I regret the necessity for this notice. However, in order to be fiscally responsible, the Board believes it must be clear with all staff concerning the impact of the continual deterioration of the State budget.


6/03/09 > Many new faces in administrative positions for 2009-10!!

Lucia Mar Unified School District


June 3, 2009


Many new faces in administrative positions for 2009-10!!


At last night's board meeting, I was pleased to announce a slate of new changes for administrative positions for the upcoming year.  Sparked by the retirement of two long-time and much loved middle school principals, Gary Moore at Paulding Middle School and Bryant Smith at Judkins Middle School, there will be two new administrators at each school.  Tom Butler, current Principal of Oceano Elementary School, will be replacing Gary at Paulding. Tom has been instrumental in helping Oceano Elementary School close the achievement gap and has helped his staff to implement effective interventions and improve student achievement significantly in his three years as principal. Due to the retirement of Assistant Principal Jim Wray, Jim Empey, current AGHS Area Administrator, will serve as Paulding's Assistant Principal at the beginning of the new school year.


Over at Judkins Middle School, Ian Penton, current District At-Risk Coordinator and former Arroyo Grande High School Area Administrator and teacher, will be taking over the reins from Bryant Smith.  Joining Ian will be AGHS science teacher and department chair Dan Neff who will serve as Judkins' Assistant Principal.  Ian and Dan look forward to working together at Judkins to continue the school improvement gains which recently led to Judkins scoring 800 on the state Academic Performance Index (API).


There will also be some new faces at three elementary schools.  Brett Gimlin, current Assistant Principal at Judkins, will be leaving to lead Nipomo Elementary.  Brett has strong expertise in curriculum and use of data to help improve instruction, and is a fluent Spanish speaker. Current Nipomo Elementary Principal Ron Walton, who has served the school and community for nine years, will be moving over to Oceano Elementary to replace Tom Butler.  Ron is ready for a new challenge and is looking forward to continuing the gains the school has made.  Current Fairgrove Elementary teacher Laura Storm will be promoted to Principal of that school to replace Andy Stenson, who was recently selected to be the District Director of Student Achievement.  This is Laura's first administrative position, and she looks forward to this new challenge. Finally, current Director of Elementary Education Mike Miller will be moving over to replace Ian Penton as the District At-Risk Coordinator.  Mike has previous experience as an elementary principal, and with the School Attendance Review Board, so he will be excellent in his new position. Two administrators at the district office also announced retirements this year. Sid Richison, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources will be replaced by Michelle Ellis. Assistant Superintendent for Instruction/Curriculum Sharon Roemer will retire in August and while this position remains vacant for 2009-10, many of the responsibilities will be assumed by Andy Stenson (Director of Student Achievement).


I am thrilled to have such a high quality group of administrators taking over these positions in the district. While I am sad to see the retirements of two of our most highly respected and regarded middle school principals, their successors will bring just as much enthusiasm and concern for student success as they did.  It is imperative that our district have outstanding leadership during these very difficult budget times, and we need strong and skilled administrators to make sure our students are prepared for the challenges and demands of the 21st Century. I couldn't be more pleased with the new group we have selected to lead us forward.





School Positions

Current Administrator

New Administrator for 2009-10

Paulding Middle School

Gary Moore, Principal ®

Tom Butler, Principal


Jim Wray, Asst. Principal ®

Jim Empey, Asst. Principal

Judkins Middle School

Bryant Smith, Principal ®

Ian Penton, Principal


Brett Gimlin, Asst. Principal

Dan Neff, Asst. Principal

Fairgrove Elementary

Andy Stenson, Principal

Laura Storm, Principal

Nipomo Elementary

Ron Walton, Principal

Brett Gimlin, Principal

Oceano Elementary

Tom Butler, Principal

Ron Walton, Principal

District Positions



Assistant Supt., Personnel/Human Resources

Sid Richison, Asst. Supt. ®


Michelle Ellis, Asst. Supt., Human Resources

Assistant Supt., Curriculum

Sharon Roemer, Asst. Supt. ®

Andy Stenson, Director Student Achievement

At-Risk Coordinator

Ian Penton

Mike Miller


® Retiring

4/28/09 > Statement Regarding Swine Flu

Lucia Mar Unified School District

 Statement Regarding Swine Flu

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lucia Mar Unified School District (LMUSD) Superintendent Jim Hogeboom today issued the following statement regarding the District's response to concerns about reported cases of the swine flu in the news:

"Keeping our students and staff healthy and safe is our highest priority. Although we have received no reports of swine flu cases in San Luis Obispo County, we have been working closely with the County Public Health Department to assist in preparing for any local cases."

The Public Health Department has advised school administrators to monitor any spikes in absenteeism, and have provided guidelines for school nurses and personnel to follow if any students or staff report flu-like symptoms.

Health officials encourage the community to take the following common-sense precautions to stay healthy:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you develop flu like symptoms (fever, cough and sore throat) you should stay home from work or school and limit contact with others. 
  • If you have flu-like symptoms AND you have traveled to Mexico or been in contact with someone who has traveled to Mexico, please see a doctor immediately to be tested for swine flu.

For updates and additional information about the district, please visit www.lmusd.org

Parents and community members may obtain the latest information about swine flu prevention and response at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu


4/02/09 > Personnel Changes for 2009-10


I am pleased to share that the board at its meeting on March 31 approved my recommendation to hire Michelle Ellis as our new Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources.  Michelle will replace Sid Richison, who is retiring after 27 years in Lucia Mar.  Thirty eight people applied for this position, and in a very competitive process the interview committee ranked Michelle very high after the initial interview.  The interview committee was composed of 12 people including teachers, administrators, classified personnel, board members and community members.  During the selection process, Michelle demonstrated her strong ability to communicate effectively, build trust and rapport with employees, set up clear procedures and processes, coach and mentor new administrators, and establish a reputation for honesty, organization, respect and sound judgment. 

She is currently the Assistant Superintendent for Personnel and Curriculum in the Delhi Unified School District near Merced, and prior to that she was the principal of Bellevue K-8 School in Atwater, a career and technical education teacher and administrator. 

I recently made a site visit to interview people in her district, and was amazed at the strong feelings people relayed to me about the quality of person she is.  "A diamond in the Delhi rough" was the way one principal described Michelle, and others spoke of her integrity, competency, ability to relate well to others, and knowledge of human resources.  I am very excited to have someone of Michelle's caliber coming on board, and she will start work in July.  Michelle will be coming to meet our board, many of you and the community on April 7.

I do want to note that I did consider some input I received about not replacing this position in order to help us address the budget crisis. Frankly, the position of Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources is too crucial of a position to leave empty as this division serves over 1,000 certificated and classified employees in our district who work in support of our students. The district will, however, see $20,000 in savings for next school year due to salary placement.

Instruction/Curriculum Division Changes

In curriculum, most of you probably know that Sharon Roemer will be retiring this summer.  The board approved my recommendation to not replace this position at this time in our continued efforts to save money.  Leaving this position open will save the district about $148,000 next year.

Secondly, I recommended that Principal Andy Stenson be hired to bring his knowledge and experience as an instructional leader and exceptional site administrator to take on the newly created position of Director of Student Achievement.  Andy is a dynamic individual who will bring a sense of urgency to our continued focus on improving student achievement results.   

Thirdly, I recommended that Barbara LoCoco be appointed as the new Director of Compliance and Categorical Programs. Barb brings her knowledge of secondary curriculum, categorical programs and funding, and a keen attention to detail and organization to the department.  Barb is a fantastic asset to our district, and will work closely with Andy to support our schools and bring our district to new heights.

The former positions of Director of Elementary and Director of Secondary Education were eliminated effective June 30. Mike Miller, the current Director of Elementary Education, will be given a different administrative position in the district next year which is yet to be determined. 

These changes will produce two important results.  First, they will place high quality people in our key leadership positions that are essential to help us reach the goal of improved student performance.  Secondly, the restructuring will save the district a lot of money as we continue to look for ways to keep the budget cuts as far away from the classroom as possible.  Please join me in congratulating Barb, Michelle, and Andy on their new positions!!

3/12/09 > Superintendent's Message - For All Staff

This week, 229 certificated staff will receive "pink slip" layoff notices in the Lucia Mar Unified School District in order to meet the March 15th deadline imposed by California law.  I have personally handed out some of these notices recently, and understand the demoralizing and devastating impact that receiving a pink slip has on a person, whether they are a teacher or an administrator.  It is a very difficult time, not only for those who receive the pink slip but also for those principals and administrators who have to hand them out personally.  I am sorry for the pain associated with these layoffs, and that we had to give so many of them out this year.  I have been asked some pointed questions related to the layoff notices, and I will try to answer them below. 


  1. Why did we give out so many layoff notices?  How was this number arrived at?


Let me answer the second question first.  In the first draft (of many to come!) of the "Ideas for possible general fund budget cuts" list I shared with the Budget Review Committee on February 11, we initially identified 13 administrative positions and 42.5 certificated positions, along with about 44 classified positions for potential cuts.  (Classified positions have not changed much and these will be reviewed again before the April 15 classified deadline arrives.)  To help meet the projected $9.4 million in estimated budget cuts, the list was updated on February 26 and the number of administrators rose to 22.3 while certificated rose to 87.14 for a total of 109.44.  Adding in ROP sections and some additional positions related to ninth grade class size reduction, the total positions the school board voted to reduce on March 3 came to a total of 125.9.  Due to the fact that some of these positions are held by part-time employees, and also due to the competency standards or "skipping criteria" adopted by the board, the number of layoff notices for people rose to 229.  (I believe there is strong merit to the 4 competency standards, and that they are important in ensuring our children receive a high quality education.)  The personnel cuts from the February 26 list for all employees added up to $6,232,950; non-personnel cuts totaled $2,182,000 and revenue enhancement estimates totaled $656,000 for a grand total of $9,161,950, still short of the estimated $9.4 million needed to address budget cuts.


  1. Why does the district continue to use the worst case scenario number of a possible deficit of $9.4 million dollars? 


After our initial analysis of the state budget showed that the LMUSD budget deficit initially projected at $9.4 million could fall to between $6 - $7 million, we remain cautious and continue to use this "worst case scenario" number for many reasons. 

I am not confident that the recently passed state budget will hold up and not go into a deficit.  It is clear that the nation, our state and indeed most of the world is undergoing a severe recession.  Unemployment in California is over 10%, jobs continue to be lost, and the housing crisis continues.  The economy is in terrible shape, and from my perspective I do not see things getting better any time soon.  While our state did recently pass a state budget for this year and for the coming 2009-10 year, this budget is dependent upon the borrowing of $11.4 billion dollars.  Some of this borrowing is contingent upon special election ballot measures that will go before voters on May 19, including proposition 1C which asks voters to approve $5 billion in borrowing against the growth in future Lottery dollars.  Whether these initiatives pass is anyone's guess, and meanwhile state tax revenues continue to come in below projections.  Because of the uncertainty about whether our state budget will remain balanced and because we could easily face a state deficit of $5 to 10 billion dollars in the coming months, I believe it is prudent to be very cautious that the budget number will hold, and that we should plan conservatively. 


If we had not planned for the worst case scenario, which included increasing class sizes that accounted for the majority of the large number of pink slips, and the worst case scenario did come true, our only available resource to cut and make up the difference would be to cut classified employees.  This is due to the fact that certificated staff need to be notified by March 15, while classified employees only need a 45 day notice.  Therefore, if we planned for a $6 million loss but actually incurred a $9 million loss, our only option would have been to cut almost every single classified position in the budget, which is not a realistic or tenable option.  Again, most of our budget expenditures are on people-salaries and benefits-- so cutting employees is the only way to save the bulk of the money.  While we all are hoping the budget picture is not going to be this bad, it would be fiscally irresponsible for me to try and balance our budget on hope alone.  Please be assured that as soon as we become aware of any positive budget news that will help reduce the need for personnel cuts, we will factor this into our budget.


  1. What about the Federal Stimulus funds, and the flexibility to use categorical funds-won't this help address the budget problems?


 Information about the Federal Stimulus money and the other details of the state budget are still being analyzed and sorted out, and as we receive new information we are trying to determine the impact on our budget.  While it was reported yesterday that the amount California will receive is about $31 billion, we still do not know how much Lucia Mar will receive of this one-time allotment, or when it will arrive.  As soon as we receive a letter notifying us of the funds, and how they can be used, we will let everyone know.  Hopefully this will help to address the $9.4 deficit, but we cannot count on it just yet.  In terms of the categorical funds, we are analyzing how much in carryover and in flexibility we can use; initial estimates are around $2 million. 


  1. What are the priorities the district will use to determine what cuts to make? 


My goals throughout this process are to conduct a transparent and open budget process, to communicate regularly, to cut "things" before people, and to ask all employees to take a possible pay cut of up to 5% only as a last resort if it becomes absolutely necessary.  The principles we will use to guide our budget process decisions and the implications are listed on the attached page.


At this point there is still much uncertainty and unknown information with our state and district budget.  As such, we will continue to be fiscally responsible, hope for the best, and plan for the worst.  My job as superintendent is to balance the needs of all, to listen closely to public input, and to ensure that we provide the best education possible for the children in the Lucia Mar Unified School District.  We all work in a system to support our students, whether we are teachers, parents, classified staff, or administrators, and we all play a very important role in determining the success of each of those students.  I am trying to balance cautious optimism with practical realism to address our budget problems, and I do not have all of the answers.  However, with your help and input, and with some luck, I believe we will get through this difficult time if we work together.


Key Principles and Beliefs to Guide Budget Decisions

March 10, 2009




Keep budget cuts away from the classroom and from impacting student learning as much as possible.

-Maintain smaller class sizes

-Cut district office and administrative positions first

-Maintain teaching staff wherever possible

-Maintain instructional assistants, library media specialists where possible

Continue to provide a safe environment for all students

-Ensure cuts do not affect supervision and student safety on campus

-Ensure student discipline is handled

-Ensure basic counseling services are provided

Lay off as few people as possible

-Cut "things" first before people (non-personnel items)

-Cut back instead of eliminate positions whenever possible

-If necessary, ask for salary reduction by all to save jobs

-Consider Early Retirement Plan if cost savings to the district

Spread out cuts equally across all grade levels

-Reduce elementary, middle and high school staff by a comparable number of staff

Conduct an open and transparent budget process

-Answer all questions honestly and promptly

-Ask for input and feedback from all staff and the community

-Establish a Budget Review Committee to make recommendations about priority of budget cuts

-Conduct public hearings to provide a forum for input concerning the impact of the cuts

Try and preserve employee morale

-Treat all staff with respect and appreciation

-Recognize employee performance

-Communicate budget updates and related actions regularly to all staff


2/11/09 > Immediate actions to address budget deficit






TO:  All Lucia Mar USD employees

FROM:   Jim Hogeboom, Superintendent

SUBJECT: Immediate actions to address budget deficit

DATE:   Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Due to the enormity of the budget crisis, I am issuing the following directives in an attempt to save as much money as possible during the current 2008-09 school year.  Thank you in advance to everyone for your efforts to save every dollar we can as we struggle to address a very difficult budget situation. If you have any questions regarding these directives, please contact your school principal or district administrator.


1. No conferences/travel without Superintendent's prior approval.

2. No overtime/comp time without Superintendent's prior approval.

3. No filling of open/vacant positions without Superintendent's approval.

4. No meals or food provided for meetings or trainings in the district without

Superintendent's approval.

5. No classroom refrigerators or small heaters without Principal's approval.


In addition, the following activities are strongly encouraged by all:

1. Reducing utility bills by turning off lights, computers and saving energy costs.

2. Reducing use of paper and photocopies unless absolutely necessary.

3. Increasing recycling so that fewer dumpsters are needed at each site.

4. Not hiring substitutes for certain classified positions whenever possible.

5. Not using color printing unless absolutely necessary.

6. Reducing use of consultants at the district level.

7. Reducing use of legal services unless absolutely necessary (Cabinet only).


Finally, we need to explore ways to increase our income, including:

1. Increasing average daily attendance (ADA).

2. Increasing enrollment.

3. Increasing the number of students signed up for Free and Reduced Lunch.

4. Decreasing inter-district transfers (policies are being rewritten).


1/21/09 > How is the district dealing with the proposed budget deficit?

How is the Lucia Mar Unified School District dealing with the projected budget deficit?

By Superintendent Jim Hogeboom, January 20, 2009


The Lucia Mar Unified School District is taking immediate steps to deal with a projected 4.5 % mid-year reduction of approximately $2.8 million for this year; and a projected additional $9 million in reductions for the 2009-10 school year. 


Thanks to proactive school board action, the district set aside an additional one percent reserve for the current school year, totaling $927,869, and also held a reserve for future board action of $1,274,113.  The school district also just cut district office budgets by an additional 30%, saving $240,000.  With the flexibility to use categorical funding, we can also access $310,547.  The total of all these savings adds up to the $2,752,529 needed to address the mid-year reductions, thus saving us from making further cuts this year and giving us time to plan.


Next year, however, is another matter altogether.  Now starting with a smaller ending fund balance and previously projecting nearly $3 million in cuts to balance the FY 2009-10 budget to the mandatory 3% reserve for economic uncertainty-add in this mid-year 4.5% cut as well as an additional 2.515% cut next year to proposed revenue limit funding, and the LMUSD is facing a whopping budget deficit of approximately $9 million dollars for the 2009-10 school year!  With each day the governor and legislature continue to not address the pressing budget issues, the situation is deteriorating, and without some miracle from our federal government, we are in for a very rough year ahead.


This budget crisis will necessitate uncommon levels of teamwork with our certificated and classified staff in our bargaining units, as well as our administrators, parents, community members and even our students if we are to thoughtfully and carefully arrive at reductions that have minimal impact on student achievement.  To address this problem, I am creating a Budget Review Committee, whose purpose will be to review input from our administrative team, each school staff and the community to develop a prioritized list of recommended budget cuts for the next school year.  The committee will be composed of teachers, classified staff, administrators, community members, parents, district office staff, and students.  The committee will begin work on Thursday, February 5 and will meet every Thursday through March, culminating with a presentation of recommendations to the school board on April 7, 2009. 


Deputy Superintendent of Business Mary Stark and I will also be visiting each school site to solicit ideas and input over the coming months.  In addition, I will be speaking with local business groups, service organizations, parent groups and others in the community over the coming months to share information and gather input.


We are also advocating with our local legislators, Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee and Senator Abel Maldonado, to urge them to help protect our budgets and to use a balanced approach in reducing the state deficit that combines budget reductions and revenue increases.  County Superintendent Julian Crocker has been active in providing leadership in this arena, and I encourage all of you to contact your state and federal legislators to implore them to take action in support of education.  Thank you in advance for your help and support of the LMUSD during very trying times, and let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions.  My email address is jhogeboom@lmusd.org.

Legislator Contact Information:

Senator Abel Maldonado  

1356 Marsh Street

San Luis Obispo , CA  93401  

Phone: (805) 549-3784

Fax: (805) 549-3779  


Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee

1104 Palm Street

San Luis Obispo , CA  93401

Phone: (805) 549-3381

Fax: (805) 549-3400


12/19/08 > Happy Holidays!!

"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."

Happy Holidays to each and every one of you; may you take the time over the coming weeks to appreciate all of your blessings.  As we slow down and step off of the treadmill of our daily lives, away from school, students, parents, papers and piles, I encourage you to spend some time in reflection.  We are so busy trying to keep up with the latest project, staying on top of email, preparing lessons, grading papers, reading educational articles, rushing from one activity to the next, we seldom have a moment to think.  Recently I arrived at a dinner with my folks about an hour early and I didn't know what to do with myself!  We cram our lives so full that we never make time to take stock of what we are doing or where we are going.  At work, we have barely completed today's activities and plans when we move on to the next day, never stopping to think about what we did today:  What went well?  What didn't?  What can we do better or differently?  Instead we just rush from lesson to lesson, from project to project, from email to email.  At home, we are so tired and exhausted that we simply collapse in front of the television. 

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey's 1989 bestseller, he describes the 7th habit as "sharpening the saw".  He states, "Suppose you came upon someone in the woods working to saw down a tree.  They are exhausted from working for hours.  You suggest they take a break to sharpen the saw.  They might reply, 'I didn't have time to sharpen the saw, I'm busy sawing'.  Habit 7 is taking the time to sharpen the saw, which means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have-you.  It means having a balanced program for self-renewel in the four areas of your life:  physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual.  Living life in balance means taking the necessary time to renew yourself."

We expect our students to revise and edit their papers, to evaluate how they performed on a team, to set goals and evaluate their progress, yet we seldom take time to reflect ourselves.  We do not learn from experience, we learn from ruminating on our experiences.  If we are to achieve our full potential, as teachers, counselors, administrators, classified staff or parents, we must set aside regular time to reflect on what is going well and what we can do to improve or change things.  We also need to set aside time to play, to laugh, to make meaningful connections with others, to spend some alone time, and to appreciate all we have.  When was the last time you did something really fun? 

Enjoy today like there is no tomorrow; 2009 will be here all too soon!!

11/25/08 > Thanksgiving rest and relaxation

"Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day."   -Sally Koch

A few months after I started my new job as the Assistant Superintendent in Corvallis Oregon, (home of the Oregon State Beavers and Rose Bowl aspirants!), I was so overwhelmed by the demands and pressures of the new job that I was getting migraines.  As someone who has always been low-key, easy going and able to balance my life and take things in stride, I found it strange to be so on edge. 

While a certain amount of stress has the potential to expand our capacity and help us to grow, constant and high pressure without adequate recovery can literally kill us, albeit in the long run.  My migraine incident helped me to see that I needed better balance, and that I needed to redesign how I was approaching my job.  Now that I have hit the big "50", it is clear to me that eating right, getting lots of sleep, exercising, relaxing and not working 60 hours a week is not just a nice thing to do, but a necessity.

It has been demonstrated that Americans work longer hours than people in any other country, and that many of us are literally sleep deprived.  We work late and on weekends, don't exercise enough, probably drink too much, and are so tired by the time we get home that rather than interacting in a positive way with our wife, kids or significant others, we zone out and watch television.  Balance has gone out the window, and as a result we not only have less than satisfying relationships, but we are also not as effective at work.  In the book, The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, they state, "We live in a world that celebrates work and activity, ignores renewal and recovery, and fails to recognize that both are necessary for sustained high performance."   In his book Sabbath, Wayne Muller says, "The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others.  To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find the time for the sunset (or even to know the sun has set at all), to whiz through our obligations without time for a mindful breath, this has become the model of a successful life."

As we approach some well-deserved time off during the Thanksgiving Holidays, my wish for all of you is that you will slow down, really relax, and forget about work for awhile.  Those email messages will wait; the papers needing to be graded will wait, and you will be doing yourself a favor by really engaging with those around you in real conversation.  Yesterday in the car on NPR I heard about NPR's National Day of Listening project.  Steve Inskeep's, NPR commentator, interviewed his mother, Judy, who tells him why she attended college and became an English teacher. The project encourages people to sit down with a loved one on Nov. 28, the day after Thanksgiving, and record a meaningful conversation.  Just a thought!  Whatever you choose to do, I hope you have some fun and take some time for yourself.  And when you come back to work, try to achieve that balance that is so important. 

11/04/08 > District SMART Goals


At its October 21 meeting, the board of education approved our district goals for the 2008-09 school year.  We have been working hard to develop SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) goals that will make a difference for student learning in Lucia Mar.  These goals are prioritized under three main areas: academic achievement, fiscal stability, and district climate.  We will print the goals for publication at each school site, and they can also be seen on the attached link at our district web site (www.lmusd.org).  Unfortunately, goal setting is not as pervasive in education as I would like it to be.

"Goal-setting has yet to become personal, real and compelling for us in our daily lives in school.  As a result, we are missing one of the most powerful tools for helping all students achieve.  The loss to adults is just as profound:  we are missing opportunities to experience empowerment, efficacy, and what the late Dr. W.E. Denning called 'joy in work.'  When collectively we share responsibility for goals, the synergy is palpable and self-renewing.  There is a focused energy that connects us to each other, motivating us to try harder, to go further than we might have gone alone.  Schools in which administrators, staff, students and parents are engaged in goal-setting reap rewards more quickly and are able to sustain continuous improvement of results over time."   (The Power of SMART Goals, Jan O'Neill and Anne Conzemius.)

Earlier in the year as I was visiting classrooms at Judkins Middle School, I came across this quote in Barbara Babka's room. 

"One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it." (Sidney Howard)

Not only was I struck by the energy, enthusiasm, commitment and focus of this excellent teacher, but she and I also discussed the implications of this quote.  While setting goals is essential towards achieving success in my book, it is only the first step.  Perhaps more important is finding those high leverage activities that help us to achieve those goals, as well as "knowing what you must give up" in order to reach your destination. 

One of my most important goals is getting into schools at least twice a week so I know what is happening in our classrooms.  I really enjoy being in schools and become energized and invigorated, so setting this goal was really the easy part.  The harder part was putting aside the paperwork, emails, meetings and other demands on my time so that I get out of my office and out where the real action is taking place.  What I have to be willing to give up is some organization, response time, accessibility and staying on top of everything (control!). And I have to realize that getting into schools is not a distraction from my other work-it IS my work! 

If you haven't already done so, I urge each of you to develop your own SMART goals for the year, and to ask your students to set goals too.  The power of goals to motivate and inspire us is immense, and leads to a sense of real accomplishment.  Just don't forget that you will have to give something along the way up in order to achieve them! 

9/24/08 > Personalization and Customer Service

Personalization and Customer Service

Yesterday I was maniacally riding the stationary bike and trying madly to get in shape all in one day by taking a "Spin Class," which mercifully came to an end some 45 minutes later, after which I must have contributed two gallons of sweat to the workout room floor.  As I sat there exhausted and wishing I had just slept in, the instructor Myrna came around to each cyclist, shook our hands, and said "Great job" or other words of support and congratulations.  For some reason, her personal acknowledgement was a big deal to me, and made me feel that all of my hard work and effort was worth it.  Now I know I should have the internal locus of control and self-discipline to not need external encouragement, but her personal contact made all of the difference, and now I plan to return again later in the week for more cycling "fun."

Her actions reminded me of how important it is to make personal contact each day with our students.  So many times our kids come to school perhaps having had a rough morning, and the smile, personal greeting and acknowledgment that you provide them is enough to carry them through the day.  I know that some of you, like Jorine Wack, Spanish teacher at Nipomo High School, make it a point to personally greet your students at the door and shake their hands as they enter the classroom.  I can tell you from personal experience that this simple action goes a long way towards personalizing your classroom and school, and towards making each student feel welcome and valued.  Others, like Ms. Schultz at Ocean View, conduct a personal learning style inventory of their students during the first week of school to try and tailor the instruction to students' individual ways of learning. 

Our teachers are not the only ones who help our students and parents feel special and welcome in our schools.  Many of our classified staff-bus drivers, custodians, secretaries, instructional aides, library assistants, food service personnel, and technology staff, also make individual contact with our students each day making a big difference.  Here in our district office, the first person I ever met was Brenda Neuschafer, our District Receptionist.  She is so friendly, welcoming and warm to all who enter our building that it makes you feel great to be here and reflects positively on the district.  For me, it actually made me want to come to work in Lucia Mar!  Other secretaries, like Elvia Tagre at Grover Beach, are bilingual and make our Spanish speaking parents and students feel included and part of our district, and go out of their way to help and support those parents who might not feel part of our educational system.  Laura Castillo, one of our bus drivers, knows each and every one of her students by name and welcomes them on board every morning.  Please feel free to share other stories with me of our employees who go out of their way to make others feel valued.

Excellent customer service and making each person feel valued is not just a trait that is important at Nordstroms and in retail, but it is also so important in education.  Thanks to all of you who go out of your way each day to provide that extra smile, that extra word of encouragement, that handshake or hug to make our students and parents feel connected and supported.  It really does make all the difference in the world!!

By the way, we are in the process of conducting a district climate survey of all staff, so please help us out by providing us with your input and feedback.  To take the survey, go to the Lucia Mar home page, and click on the "staff" tab.  It only takes about 3 minutes to complete.  We will use the survey to identify any areas that need improvement at the district office.  Thanks in advance for your help.

9/04/08 > First Week of School

September 4, 2008 - Message to all Lucia Mar USD Staff

Dear Lucia Mar Staff:

Every few weeks I will send out this short communiqué to report on various observations and reflections that I want to share with you.  I once heard that the single most important facet of leadership was to clearly communicate priorities, which is what I hope to touch on here. 

I just wanted to say a big "Thank You" for such a great first week of school!  I had the opportunity to visit every school last week, and was very impressed with how smoothly all of the first week activities went, from the bus routes to registration to sparkling clean campuses and classrooms to sincere welcomes to our students and parents to the engaged teaching and learning I observed. There is so much preparation and work done in advance, that the general public never sees, to ready for that first day of school. I want to commend all of you for a remarkable job of making it happen so efficiently. 

The school board and our leadership team (principals and directors) are currently working on developing  district  SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) goals under three main headings: 

  • academic achievement
  • fiscal stability
  • developing a positive, supportive work environment

I have asked my key cabinet members to take responsibility for each of these three areas: Sharon Roemer (Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum) will be responsible for the first goal area; Mary Stark (Deputy Superintendent for Business) will take responsibility for the second area; and, Sid Richison (Assistant Superintendent for Personnel) will be responsible for the third.  After the board approves the two or three specific goals under each area, we will develop action plans and timelines for implementation.  I will also ask each principal to work with each school staff so that you can all establish your own SMART goals for your schools, departments and grade levels. 

If we are to prepare our students to meet the challenges of exponential change in a very competitive world, within very tight budgets, and to work on closing the achievement gap and helping all students succeed, we need to collaborate, develop clear goals, and hold ourselves accountable for RESULTS.  As I mentioned at the Welcome Back Rally, I strongly believe that Professional Learning Communities are a strong framework that can help us meet these challenges. 

Today the state released our school and district API results for the 2007-08 school year.  These results are important for us to see how we are doing, but it is even more important to break down these results, as well as other important assessments, by each student so we can monitor their progress.  I challenge all of you to work together to set goals that will be the impetus to measure student progress this year.  We have an incredible responsibility bestowed on us for the education of our community's children, and we must do "Whatever it takes!" to ensure student success. 

I hope you all have a terrific school year.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your superintendent. 


8/25/08 > Welcome and Introduction

I am proud to be the new Superintendent of our district, and am confident that the 2008-09 school year will be a positive and rewarding experience for all of our students.  One of the main reasons I came to Lucia Mar was because of our best asset-tremendous people!  You will find that all of our staff members-principals, teachers, secretaries, bus drivers, district office employees, coaches-are caring, committed and dedicated to the success of all our students. 

Allow me to introduce myself.  For the past three years I have served in the Corvallis School District in Corvallis, Oregon as the Assistant Superintendent.  I was responsible for daily operations as well as curriculum and instruction.  While we enjoyed Corvallis, home of the Oregon State Beavers, it was just too rainy for us native Californians, so the opportunity to come to the Central Coast was too good to pass up!  Prior to moving to Oregon, I worked as a Middle School Principal in Roseville, California where I had the chance to open up a brand new school, which was very exciting.  My other jobs in education include assignments as assistant principal at a middle school in Novato, California; high school teacher at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, and work for the State Department of Education in Sacramento.  I graduated from Cal with a major in political science, and we are all big Bear fans!  My wife Gwen and I grew up in the East Bay, and now have two children:  Alaina is 11 and in 6th grade, and Jack is 9 and in 4th grade.  We are so happy to be here!

One of my commitments is to be in schools at least two days a week.  It is very important for me as a new superintendent to visit schools and classrooms to see what is happening in our schools.  As I travel to school sites, visit classrooms, attend events, and learn about activities and issues of interest, I will do my best to share my observations and thoughts with you.  This first year as I transition into the superintendent position, I will be asking a lot of questions and doing a lot of listening.  Please feel free to contact me with any ideas, concerns or suggestions at the Lucia Mar Unified School District, 602 Orchard Street, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420.  Or, you may email me at mailto:jhogeboom@lmusd.org

Finally, we are working closely with the School Board to establish measurable goals for the 2008-09 school year, and have identified three key areas:  academic achievement, fiscal stability, and a positive, supportive working environment.  Under these categories, we will establish specific, measurable goals for the year.  I will be updating these goals as they are developed, and look forward to hearing your input.  Have a great school year!

Jim Hogeboom