Mountain View Voice

News - May 28, 2010

Craig Goldman in the spotlight

New superintendent takes helm at Mountain View Whisman

by Martin Sanchez

Craig Goldman, the new superintendent of Mountain View's elementary and middle schools, said he wants to build on the goals and accomplishments of his predecessors.

In an interview with the Voice, Goldman said he would not change the district's basic goals or educational philosophy, which he described as "a standards-based approach that also accounts for the whole child."

"I don't see my job in terms of reforming the path that we've been on," he said.

He said in recent years the district has made changes in its educational strategies and teacher training methods to better address the needs of its Latino and African American students, as well as those who are socio-economically disadvantaged.

The changes have been successful, he said, but the standardized test results still show an "achievement gap" between those students and other groups.

In the most recent Academic Performance Index report, which rates schools based on test results, the district's Latino students scored 719 points out of 1,000 — almost 100 points behind the district's overall score of 817. Socio-economically-disadvantaged students, meanwhile, scored 722.

"We're not satisfied with the pace that we've been on, and we'll have to ramp up our efforts in the coming years," Goldman said.

California's troubled financial climate will continue to create challenges for Mountain View Whisman schools, he said, identifying special education and health benefits as particularly contentious areas.

"Revenues for those areas are going down, and costs continue to spiral up," he said.

"We have a perception that California offers a free education to every child. The problem is that California doesn't provide funds for a quality education (for) every child," Goldman said. "We have to take an approach of balancing various important interests to ensure that students get a quality education and we remain fiscally solvent," he said.

Goldman in March surprised city officials by saying school districts should get more money from the Regional Shoreline Park Community special tax district, which diverts most of its property tax revenues into its own upkeep. He said he has already set meetings with city officials to discuss ways of changing the Shoreline community's tax structure.

"We have a great relationship with the city. We do expect that we'll continue to try to work collaboratively," he said.

Last November, then-school board president Phil Palmer announced that former Superintendent Maurice Ghysels was looking for a new job. On May 12 Ghysels said he would step down July 1 to take a position with the county's Office of Education.

The following day, the district's board of trustees confirmed Goldman in a closed session and approved his contract at a regular meeting one week later.

Palmer identified Goldman in the November announcement as Ghysels' eventual replacement.

"It seemed like a natural progression, in light of what I feel is a broader interest in leadership and oversight of the district," Goldman said.

Goldman has been the district's CFO for the past three years. Before that, he was the principal of Huff Elementary School for nine years and taught the fifth grade for eight years in Burlingame.

Education is not Goldman's first career — in 1981, he received a bachelor's degree in human biology from Stanford. He wanted to become a teacher after graduating, he said, but waves of layoffs for California teachers made him unlikely to find a job.

He ended up studying law at UCLA and working as a financial lawyer for five years. After that, he went back to school to pursue his dream of being a teacher, he said.

Goldman has twin daughters who are starting high school in San Mateo in August.

"One of my daily regrets is that I didn't have them attend Mountain View Whisman schools," he said.

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