The Montecito Union School Board of Trustees has done a great disservice to this community by causing us to lose our exceptional principal of eight years, Kris Bergstrom.
On March 11, 2010 the Board voted 5-0 to “release” Ms. Bergstrom from her position “in order to give the District maximum flexibility.” That latter quote has never been fully explained, and the school board has shown just how inflexible it can be.
The board’s decision set off a firestorm of parent protest. The overwhelming majority of parents sent emails, made phone calls, and flooded standing-room-only board meetings in support of Ms. Bergstrom. She was unilaterally praised for being an excellent communicator, an effective decision-maker, a big picture visionary, a sensitive people person—in short, a gifted leader. There was every expectation on the part of parents and Ms. Bergstrom that she would be a significant part of our new organizational structure moving forward.
It was not to be so.
Not only did the board botch the communications about this entire situation month after month, it also—to this day—has failed to acknowledge or take any effective steps to heal the ragged divide it created between parents and board members. And the way the board treated Ms. Bergstrom during this period was as shameful as it was inexplicable.
The true motives of certain board members may never be known, and the board may never take responsibility for the acrimony, hurt, anger, and distrust it has engendered. That’s a disappointment. I’m sure the board has heard only shouting from parents. In fact, we’ve been shouting for leadership.
It was not to be so.
The seats of three board members—Bob Nagy, Karen Anderson, and Carissa Smith—are up for election this fall. This is a great opportunity to change the culture on the MUS School Board. In the past, the board had shown an ability to be more transparent, communicative, and collaborative. I will be looking forward to meeting potential candidates who are interested, qualified, and motivated to restore that spirit to our school.
I don’t worry about Kris Bergstrom—she is a superstar, and her light will shine wherever she goes. And I don’t worry about MUS. It’s a great school, and I’m proud to have been a parent there for five years. And, by all indications, our new superintendent, Tammy Murphy, will do a terrific job.
These last four months have been a challenge for everyone at MUS, and I, for one, am looking forward to casting my vote for better days ahead.—Lanny Sherwin (MUS newsletter editor for four years; member of the MUS Strategic Planning Committee, Strategic Communications Committee, and PTA; and Singalong co-chair.)