Education / Schools

HSD appoints new elementary superintendent, assistant superintendent

Locals Erika Sanchez and Kip Ward receive praises from the board.
Erika Sanchez. File Photo courtesy of the Hollister Fire Department.
Erika Sanchez. File Photo courtesy of the Hollister Fire Department.
Ladd Lane Principal and soon to be HSD Director of Student Services Kip Ward (left) with his brother Kirk. File photo.
Ladd Lane Principal and soon to be HSD Director of Student Services Kip Ward (left) with his brother Kirk. File photo.

In a unanimous decision, the Hollister School District Board of Trustees appointed Erika Sanchez superintendent and Kip Ward assistant superintendent of the Hollister Elementary School District (HESD) at its Aug. 24 meeting. Sanchez has served as interim superintendent since June 1

Sanchez will receive a salary of $215,000 per year, and Ward’s annual salary will be $174,122. Their contracts are effective from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2024. 

Board President Jan Grist sought clarification from Sanchez about why the oral summary of compensation and fringe benefits needed to be disclosed. Sanchez said that for any position with ‘superintendent’ in the title, it was legally necessary for the board to discuss in Open Session the compensation and fringe benefits before approving the position. 

“Kip Ward is an exemplary employee for our district,” Sanchez said. “At this time, it is an absolute—I think paramount—decision to make; that he step into the assistant superintendent role. His years of service in the district have been filled with integrity, ethics and just dedication to all the staff around him, and to all the students who have been part of his classroom and have been part of his administrative career.”

Grist also had high praise for Ward. 

“I have personally worked with Kip for many many years as a colleague and as a peer,” Grist said. “I know that his leadership abilities, his kindness, his compassion, his ability to look through and see and solve problems, is what we need in this school district. I have absolutely no hesitation at all about Kip becoming our assistant superintendent.” 

Ward was affected by his colleagues’ words as he addressed the board. 

“I’m humbled,” he said. “I am so grateful and I thank you for the kind words of support. This is definitely an emotional time for me. I love the Hollister School District. I’ve been here for a long time; I’ve got a lot of gray hairs, I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve been able to work with some fantastic people.”

He continued, “I just want to say thank you. I am honored. This is my community; this is my home—San Benito County, the Hollister School District—this is what I care about. I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.” 

Ward noted that he was holding a picture of his mom, who died earlier this month, as the board voiced confidence in him.

“I was listening to you talk, and I know she heard,” he said. “So I appreciate all of you and thank you.”

Trustee Elizabeth Martinez, who mentioned that she had known Ward since elementary school, also acknowledged Ward.

“Many times districts, through these challenging times, end up just falling apart, but your foundation and your strength has kept your cohesiveness.”

Following the board’s approval of Sanchez, trustee Lisa Marks said she looked forward to working with her. 

“You have demonstrated patience in very stressful situations, and your character and your kindness, besides just your skills and abilities, are impressive,” Marks said. “I think we’re going to all be very happy with working with you, to see the potential that this district holds to become even better than it is right now, and it’s already moved forward so much.”

Sanchez replied, “It is very humbling to be here tonight, and I just want to thank you for the opportunity. Thank you for believing in the fact that someone from this district is able to step into such an important role, during such an important time.It’s not just me, but it’s the team behind me with me along besides me, and everybody else at the school sites.” 

Sanchez and Ward were both raised and educated in Hollister. 


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Jenny Mendolla Arbizu

Jenny is a Hollister native who resides in her hometown with her husband and son. She graduated from San Benito High School, and received her BA in Literature from UC Santa Cruz and her MA in Education from San Jose State University. Jenny has written for the Hollister Freelance, San Benito Magazine and South Valley Magazine. She finds joy in meeting new people in San Benito County and in spotlighting the county’s events and businesses. When not writing, Jenny can be found cuddling with her fur-babies, performing with SBSC, singing with the Hollister VFW, or doing rope climbs at Cold Storage CrossFit.