Six months have passed since Christi Barrett became the new superintendent of the 21,000 student Hemet Unified School District and has cemented strong relationships with the school board, teachers, staff and district students.
While the HUSD Board had other choices, they chose Barrett, only 41-years-age, who was working as the Val Verde School District superintendent of human resources and still working on her Ph.D. at the Claremont Colleges. Though young for being a school superintendent, she climbed through the educational ranks from teacher to superintendent rapidly and showed great progress. It was enough for the HUSD board to make her their first choice for the position and she was hired in May and took her office in July.
She admits there were challenges she faced coming to the expansive Hemet school district but tackled them well. She finds the board and school district staff and teachers very supportive in her work. “There are a lot of responsibilities but I have a great team around me. Here at Hemet Unified we have an amazing group of educators and leaders and so the support system I have here along with our board is exceptional.”
HUSD continues to grow with more and more minority, non-English speakers and low income students that she has focused her attention on in her first few months. She says no matter what the challenges are, the district goal is to see “100 percent attendance… 100 percent graduates… and 100 percent attain academically and be college and career ready.” Those challenges are exacerbated in the district in that an estimated 82 percent of the students in the district are in the “unduplicated count” or out of poverty, English Language Learners, foster children and/or eligible for the free lunch program.
She said while the challenge is great the district under the Local Control Funding Formula receives funding to address the issues. She indicated that the district has been addressing the issues before she had arrived and is doing very well at it. She said the latest learning assessments provided by the state show a steady improvement in student achievement in mathematics, science and English.
Barrett noted that Hemet Elementary School that has been closed and completely renovated, will soon reopen and provide its students a new English/Spanish immersion program. The dual program will teach both languages that will benefit the students in the future both socially and in employability particularly in the state. Already the district has employed a reading intervention teacher in each of the elementary schools.
She said that each of the district’s schools will have specific goals they will be working on in math, reading and support systems for our students. “It is for each school site to make a decision based on the needs of their school… with the understanding that we have goal for the district that school site goals be aligned to the established goals for the distric.”
She indicated she has specific expectations in the district to continue “building a collaborative environment. Building a culture of shared leadership and shared accountability. And putting forward the effort to align our systems processes that will benefit the students.”
Meanwhile Barrett said the district is in the process of creating a “community outreach center” next year that will provide parents a place to come to search out resources to help their children learn and to help families in need. It coincides with the districts efforts to make student learning a collaborative effort between the district, the teachers and the parents.