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UPDATE: Hart district Superintendent Challinor to retire

Posted: August 7, 2014 9:15 a.m.
Updated: August 7, 2014 4:41 p.m.
Hart district Superintendent Rob Challinor has announced his retirement in February  Hart district Superintendent Rob Challinor has announced his retirement in February 
Hart district Superintendent Rob Challinor has announced his retirement in February 

After five years at the helm of the Santa Clarita Valley’s largest school district, Hart district Superintendent Rob Challinor announced plans this week to retire effective February 2015.

Challinor took over the more-than-20,000-student William S. Hart Union High School District in July 2010, replacing retiring Superintendent Jaime Castellanos.

When asked why he is retiring at the relatively young age of 59, he replied in a statement issued late Wednesday, “After 38 years of answering the bell at 5 or 5:30 a.m. and being on call 24/7 for the past 30 years, it’s time to relax.”

Challinor cited two key areas of accomplishment during his time as superintendent of the valley-wide junior and senior high school district: increased student achievement during tough financial times statewide; and re-building the district management team as the result of “baby boomer” retirements.

Earlier this year, two of the district’s longtime principals — Paul Priesz at Valencia High School and Bob Vincent at West Ranch High School — announced they would be retiring.

Before being hired by the Hart district in 2010, Challinor spent four years as superintendent in the Muroc District — a district of about 2,400 students in the Mojave Desert — and as teacher, assistant principal, junior high school principal, high school principal and assistant superintendent during his career.

“Working as superintendent in the Hart district has been a dream job,” Challinor said. “The district staff are incredibly talented and focused on student achievement both in the classroom and athletics and performing arts.”

As part of his leadership role in the Santa Clarita Valley, Challinor also served on the governing board of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, on the SCVTV board of directors, and on the city of Santa Clarita Redevelopment Oversight Committee.

“The community is very supportive of the district, and the governing board is dedicated to serving the needs of our young people,” he said.

The announcement, made some six months before his retirement date, allows the district’s governing board time to determine the process for selecting Challinor’s successor, district officials said in the news release.
Challinor could not be reached for further comment Thursday.

District board President Steve Sturgeon said Thursday that Challinor’s decision came as a bit of a surprise.

“He’s had a long career in education and certainly has done well in the district,” Sturgeon said of Challinor.

Board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine, said Thursday, “I want to thank Mr. Challinor for his service and I wish him the best in his retirement.”

As for what the district should look for in a new superintendent, Mercado-Fortine said she hopes the board can find someone who proves “to be a visionary, to be a creative thinker, to be a real team builder to develop and strengthen those community partnerships, especially with College of the Canyons, and the rest of our community and the business community.”

Previously, the Hart district board has employed an executive search firm to identify qualified candidates for the superintendent’s position.

Challinor is the second Santa Clarita Valley superintendent to announce plans to retire this year, joining longtime Sulphur Springs School District Superintendent Robert Nolet.

Sturgeon said challenges remain in the district, especially as it continues to climb out of the recent recession and implement Common Core State Standards — a set of uniform metrics meant to standardize curriculum across state lines — but that he is confident the district will be able to meet those goals.

“I have no doubts that the district will continue to be successful,” Sturgeon said.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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