Jim Sargent, a 32-year educator from Caruthers, is the new Yosemite Unified School District superintendent who will assume his duties July 1. The announcement was made by John Reynolds, president of the district's board of trustees, at a special board meeting Monday night.
Sargent fills the position of Steve Raupp, who's last day as the district's superintendent is Friday, June 29. The district is made up of Yosemite High School and Coarsegold and River Gold elementary schools.
The district and Sargent agreed to a three-year contact at $150,000 per year.
"This district has an outstanding reputation throughout the Central Valley as a top notch, quality school district and I'm thrilled and honored to be the district's new superintendent," Sargent said.
The past four years, Sargent has served as the superintendent for the Caruthers Unified School District which included Caruthers High School with about 550 students.
"I am coming from a district that has similar challenges that Yosemite Unified faces," Sargent said. "I have been dealing the past four years with declining enrollments and budget cuts just like Yosemite."
Sargent said his No. 1 goal for the district is to maintain the quality programs in the district and both the elementary and high school levels.
"The kids deserve that," he said. "I will do my homework on some of the challenges that face the district."
Sargent, who received his administrative credential from Fresno State, started his career in 1980 as a grad-student men's basketball assistant coach at Miracosta College, a junior college in Oceanside in Southern California. He remained in that position for four years.
He then taught history for four years at a private high school in San Juan Capistrano while coaching boy's varsity basketball.
Sargent was also director of learning assistance and coached basketball at Biola University for five years and was the associate dean of students and men's basketball coach at Fresno Pacific College for seven years.
The district hired Dr. Patrick Sayne and Dr. Terry Bradley of The Cosca Group, a search firm in Fairfield, to assist with the search for a new superintendent soon after Raupp announcement his retirement in early January. A series of district staff, student and public meetings were held to identify the characteristics desired of the new superintendent.
The search firm advertised nationally for the position and received 20 applications, of which six were given a formal 45-minute interview by the trustees on June 4. The list of applicants was narrowed to four, including Sargent, who were brought back the following day for a second interview.
The Cosca Group has performed more than 50 similar searches over the past eight years and Sayne was happy with the outcome for the district.
"Yosemite is a quality district that attracted quality applicants," Sayne said. "Although having the opportunity to live in this area doesn't hurt, one must understand you do not attract good applicants if the district is not stable or does not have a good academic program."
Sayne said YUSD got a good superintendent with maturity and experience.
"We like to see the personality of the superintendent match the personality of the district and Mr. Sargent and Yosemite Unified School District seem to be a great fit," Sayne said. "The board selected someone that really wants to be here, not just someone looking for a job."
John Reynolds, president of the board, expressed the board's delight with the selection of Sargent.
"Although we had a large number of quality applicants for the position, Jim distinguished himself as the top candidate throughout the entire process," Reynolds said. "His experience and expertise in education made for a unanimous decision in selecting Jim as out next superintendent. We were all very pleased with the process and couldn't be happier that he accepted our offer to come work for us."
"I realize I'm replacing someone (Raupp) that has been in the district for 34 years, but hopefully I will be able to put my own stamp on things," Sargent said. "I'm looking forward to meeting all the staff and students in the district. I've heard only great things about district staff members from the board, Mr. Raupp and members of the public."
Sargent has been married to his wife Molly, a teacher at Fresno Christian High School, for 32 years. The couple have three grown children.