Mark Capritto, principal of Santa Barbara High School, announced Tuesday that he would not return to SBHS next year. Capritto has served as principal since 2007, when he took the position after a string of principals failed to settle in at the school. Now, he says, it’s “the right time” to move on.
“Let me be frank: The school could use some new leadership,” said Capritto from behind his principal’s desk Tuesday afternoon. He was insistent that this isn’t the end of his career in education, although he added that he hasn’t even begun looking for other positions yet.
Why, then, leave a solid job at a high school that has seen significant gains under his leadership? Even Capritto said he lacks the answer. “Everyone’s looking for a story, but there’s not one,” he said. In a letter to SBHS parents, he stated that “the decision was not based on any single factor and comes at a time that is right for me.”
“For our part, we’re thankful for his service,” said Santa Barbara School District Superintendent Brian Sarvis. Capritto’s departure, he said, is no shock, although the secondary schools are experiencing leadership shifts right now; Dos Pueblos saw new principal Shawn Carey take the lead this year, while San Marcos’s Norm Clevenger is retiring in June. The district will seek to replace Clevenger and Capritto from within the district campuses, Sarvis said, before looking for outside options.
Under Capritto, Santa Barbara High has seen a significant improvement in API scores as well as a successful WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation. But Capritto noted that high school principals generally don’t stay at one school for very long, citing that he spent just two years as what he called a “change agent” principal at one school before moving on.
In the meantime, the school district has begun the process of looking for a replacement, although Sarvis said there’s not necessarily one clear choice of leader for Santa Barbara’s oldest public high school.