Diego Ochoa will remain with the district through June 30. File photo by John Chadwell.
Diego Ochoa will remain with the district through June 30. File photo by John Chadwell.

Information provided by Hollister School District.

 

According to a May 19 Hollister School District (HSD) press release Superintendent Diego R. Ochoa is expected to submit his resignation to the Board of Trustees to accept a similar position in the San Mateo-Foster City School District (SMFCSD) pending Board approval in the 2021-2022 school year.

The announcement was confirmed on the SMFCSD Board of Trustee’s May 20 agenda, “Diego Ochoa is being recommended for appointment as the next Superintendent of the San Mateo-Foster City School District.”

Ochoa was selected from a large pool of applicants after an exhaustive search conducted by McPherson & Jacobson, L.L.C.

School Board President Jan Grist said, “Since he arrived, Diego has brought stability to the district. He has helped us improve academics, staffing, special education, and equity. He has been collaborative with our unions and has also developed a very strong team of administrators. We’ll miss Diego, but we are confident that our team is ready to carry on.”

The Hollister School District serves approximately 6,000 students in grades Tk-8 at ten schools. Ochoa has served as superintendent since the 2018-2019 school year. Ochoa joined the district during the 2018-2019 school year, when special education services were under intense scrutiny. He moved quickly to assemble a team led by Director of Special Education Gwen Baquiran.

“Diego used innovative approaches to capitalize on the strengths of the special education management team and really invested in special education. He combined a focus on relationships and systems to move the needle in our district.” Baquiran said.

Superintendent Diego Ochoa said, ”It was a difficult decision to consider joining SMFCSD because of how much I love the Hollister School District. Our 600 employees are amazing. Our 6,000 students are the best. At the same time, we have a strong, united Board of Trustees and
highly effective senior management. The future for the Hollister School District is bright. That said, I’m excited for what lies ahead in the SMFCSD.”

According to the press release, Ochoa led HSD in adopting reading, new math, ELD, and science curriculum. The district greatly improved arts education in concert with the San Benito County Arts Council. The district also pivoted towards small-group reading intervention instruction focusing on the use of Orton-Gillingham Preventing Academic Failure strategies.

Ochoa said, “Our teachers and principals were clamoring for resources like OG PAF. I worked to prioritize funding and ensure
that all staff received the necessary training to be effective.”

Ochoa also led the district’s efforts to coordinate new school configurations. The district had previously struggled with overcrowded middle schools and a lack of classroom space at multiple sites. Ochoa worked with the Board of Trustees to create more TK-8 campuses and develop
new school boundaries.

Ochoa said, “Long-range planning is an essential part of a healthy district. With some smart, focused decision-making, we were able to address classroom space and equity issues confronting the district.”

The district’s human resources practices were also revamped during Ochoa’s tenure to ensure the recruitment, hiring, and retention of a high-quality workforce.

Assistant Superintendent Erika Sanchez said, “We worked collaboratively to move our hiring timelines up by three months. We attended job fairs together and helped vet top candidates. More than anything, he and I worked together to hire the best and brightest.”

As Ochoa prepares to leave the Hollister School District, there are plans to hold the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Rancho Santana School (RSS). The $52 million dollar campus was built to serve up to 850 students. Ochoa selected Director of Facilities Aaron Buzzetta in 2019 to
lead the project.

“School construction is a results-based business,” Ochoa said about Buzzetta. “You are protecting the taxpayer’s money and building something that will last generations. I can honestly say that the RSS campus has far exceeded my expectations. It is an absolute gem and Aaron should be recognized for his stewardship of the project.”

Ochoa plans to remain with the district through June 30, 2021 before joining the San Mateo-Foster City School District, pending Board approval.

 

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