In a statement, Harding said believes he will be leaving his top role in the district at a time when the local high schools are headed in the right direction — with a solid financial future and academic performance that continues to improve — and that "without question, there's a rosy future ahead for MVLA."
Harding joined the district in June 2015, replacing former Superintendent Barry Groves, after running schools as a superintendent in Sonoma County. He joined the district — at least in part — because of the top-notch reputation of Mountain View-Los Altos, and said one of his goals going forward was to play a big role working with other local agencies.
Since then, the district has worked closely with the city of Mountain View on how to best handle fast-increasing enrollment caused by the city's housing boom. Along with fighting to make sure developers in North Bayshore help offset the costs of building new school facilities, Harding and the school board have frequently met about leasing land for the district's digital arts and media-focused Freestyle Academy.
Harding led the district through a critical time when California transitioned to the Common Core standards, and students went from taking the old STAR tests — which yielded a three-digit grade for each school — to the new digital testing format with an entirely new set of results.
Many of the district's longest serving, highest-ranking administrators, notably former associate superintendents Joe White and Brigitte Sarraf, retired from their roles at Mountain View-Los Altos, leaving the district with a relatively new leadership team in recent years.
School board president Fiona Walter said in a statement that Harding has set in motion a lengthy list of initiatives, from new classroom construction to tech upgrades and student mental health initiatives, and that the board wishes him the best after nearly four decades in education.
Harding said in the statement that he plans to travel and spend time with family and friends, and pursue part-time "professional projects" like leadership coaching for current and aspiring school administrators. Former superintendent Groves took a similar route, "retiring" from the district before working at the Association of California School Administrators in Burlingame.
District officials are expected to begin an executive search for a new superintendent sometime in the coming weeks.
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