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Despite Losing Job, Rollingwood Principal Departs Gracefully

The San Bruno Park School District has hinted that Rollingwood and Crestmoor will share a principal next year, but no plans have been put in place yet, which has left many parents and teachers concerned.

Rollingwood Elementary Principal Schrene Whitmore bid her final adieu to the school last week, as .

Whitmore was only at the helm for a year and was let go discreetly by the San Bruno Park School District in a way that still has many confused.

According to Superintendent David Hutt, Whitmore was the only principal to receive a "non-reelect letter," which meant her “term of service ends at the current school year.”

The school board has expressed a desire to have one principal run both Rollingwood and Crestmoor Elementary, whose , next year. Part of the reason Crestmoor Principal Ryan Haven left, he said in a letter to parents, was because being asked to be a principal for two schools wouldn't allow him to responsibly balance his work life and his family.

To this date, however, no plans have been publicly announced about a replacement. And many are still wondering how two schools will share one principal, especially when no one has been hired yet.

Whitmore has attempted to make her departure as graceful as possible with a final princpal's message in the school's weekly newsletter, which was sent out to parents at the end of last week:

"It has been my honor to have served as your principal for the past year here at Rollingwood School. As you have most probably heard, I will not be here next year, due to the drastic budget cuts that San Bruno Park is suffering. I do not know as of this print who will be your principal, but it has been rumored that you will be sharing one with another school. Know that you have a wonderful group of teachers that will continue to teach your student, and they will continue to make sure that Rollingwood is the best it can possibly be. After all “you can’t hide that bulldog pride.” Continue to be proud of the school, our staff, and of the wonderful families here. I wish each of you a wonderful summer, and success to each of the students. I will miss you."

Paul Linden June 12, 2012 at 04:25 AM
As a parent of two children at Rollingwood, I've come to know Ms Whitmore in the past year. She has always been approachable and has the welfare of the sudents at heart. We are sorry to see her removed from her position through no fault of her own. The graceful manner in which she left speaks highly for her character. We at Rollingwood have been aware of the budget problems, and have been willing to make sacrifices for the good of all the district, yet we have ended up being forced to lose our principal with no explanation of why her pink slip wasn't rescinded after Mr Haven's resignation. Apparently principal sharing can be made to work, but any instances I've come across included a months-long period of parental/administration consultation, and had a plan in place, an experienced principal, and additional support provided by the district involved. We've yet to see any of this in San Bruno district, and neither Dr Hutt nor the five trustees has answered any questions I've put directly to them. Perhaps there's a plan in place to make this go smoothly for the two schools, but there's little evidence of it so far. The lack of information is making it impossible to continue giving the administration the benefit of the doubt. A good principal will motivate staff, students and parents, while a school with a bad principal will fail to live up to its potential no matter how good the staff and students are. I fear that sharing a principal can only have a negative outcome.
Cliona McHale June 12, 2012 at 04:35 AM
The students, staff, and families of Rollingwood are shocked and saddened that the District apparently plans not to reinstate Mrs. Whitmore as our Principal, especially given the resignation of Mr. Haven. She is highly professional, energetic, enthusiastic, accessible, responsive, and has worked tirelessly to provide students and staff with the resources they need to succeed in her year-long tenure. Principal-sharing is a huge concern for the Rollingwood and Crestmoor communities; among the concerns of parents are safety, discipline, reduced time and resources to support students and staff who need extra help, challenges in managing IEPS at 2 different sites, reduced accessibility to parents and reduced outreach to families in both communities, and the lack of someone on site to handle unpredictable issues. Our teachers are wonderful, but they will be stretched with 31 students, mixed grades and two curricula. They already work extra hours and can not reasonably be expected to take on extra administrative duties. I feel that the District and Board are indicating a disinvestment in Rollingwood and Crestmoor that will adversely affect our communities. While principal-sharing is a far less than ideal situation, the least disruptive scenario would be to reinstate Mrs. Whitmore who is familiar with the Rollingwood community and the District.
Shirley June 12, 2012 at 05:25 AM
I totally agree with Paul and Cliona's comments. I also feel Mrs. Whitmore was an asset to Rollingwood Elementary. Right from the start she fit in and made me (a parent) feel very comfortable talking to her about anything. I was and still am a Board member of our PTA Unit and she did not let things or past Board members take advantage of any situation. She brought several fun, new ideas with her ~ we can only hope they will be kept. I, too, am confused as to why she was let go. Maybe she is not bilingual, but she does support the English learners in every way she can. I would be very relieved and happy if they would give her back her job ~ I know she would be able to handle both schools if it came to that. I hope Dr. Hutt and the School Board will reconsider their actions, please.
Jacqui Pastoral-Conclara June 12, 2012 at 08:37 AM
The situation immensely baffles me - the continued silence from Dr. Hutt and the Board of Trustees, not a word of explanation to the Rollingwood community on their refusal to heed our pleas to reinstate Principal Whitmore. As of today, our community still has zero information about the future of Rollingwood. Principal sharing is just as Mrs. Whitmore stated in her newsletter - a rumor. Rollingwood families deserve to know the truth. Why are we being ignored? Why are we being given the cold shoulder? No solid information was provided to us until last week when members of the incoming PTA board, the Rollingwood teachers and staff were invited to a meeting with Dr Hutt later this week. This invitation comes more than a month after the Rollingwood staff requested a meeting with Dr. Hutt to discuss the principal situation. Rollingwood is a solid community of families who are highly invested in their children's education and the school. I have witnessed the parents/guardians' fervor for volunteering- they have spent hours in the classrooms, school events and fundraisers to ensure that the children receive the quality education they deserve.
Jacqui Pastoral-Conclara June 12, 2012 at 08:46 AM
Mrs. Whitmore complimented that passion from the families. And like what this article says, she was an epitome of "grace." There were numerous times when she has gone beyond her call of duty, staying late during fundraisers and school events to rally and support the students. With student discipline, she has exhibited the right mix of strictness and kindness. Her "quite lunches" were devised as an offshoot of the school "safety" policy. This also extends to her strict enforcement of traffic rules at pick-up and drop=off when many harried parents often ignore the safety rules. In addition, she has instituted various new programs and strategies that aimed among others to improve Rollingwood's API scores, after it dropped 34 points to 793 in 2011 from 827 in 2010. At numerous times, I have witnessed her kind but firm demeanor as she dealt with students' behavior issues. Personally, she has inspired me to work harder for the children. She has been a source of strength and support to me when I faced the tough and hectic job as treasurer of the PTA this school year. Overall, I am very encouraged by what she once shared, that her administrative style is guided by the Golden Rule, "treat others like the way you want others to treat you." Surely, Dr. Hutt and The Board of Trustees, you don't want to deprive a school community with that kind of governance.
John Hanson June 13, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Hate to keep saying it , but Hutt and the school board are the problem. Everything is a secret.

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