New principal hired at Mount Shasta Elementary

Skye Kinkade

The Mount Shasta Union School District board of trustees hired Leanna Rizzo as principal for the Elementary School at their meeting Monday.

Rizzo, a current teacher at Weed Elementary School, will begin at MSE on July 1. Kale Riccomini will continue as principal at Sisson.

The vote was 4-1, with trustee Bob Winston in opposition. John Duncan, Paul Schwartz, Leslie Cole and Chuck Rosecrantz all voted yes on the hire, said superintendent Kathi Emerson, reporting out of closed session.

There are seven steps in Rizzo’s salary schedule, and the first step is $73,146 annually, said Emerson.

This year, the district had a curriculum coach, which was a leadership role to help implement the new Common Core reading program. Next year, there will be no curriculum coach, since that program is now well under way.

“So we traded the curriculum coach position for a principal,” said Emerson.

Some teachers in the Mount Shasta Elementary Teacher’s Association were opposed to the hire of a second principal and said so publicly during previous board meetings and in a May 21 Letter to the Editor.

They said the need could be met more effectively, for less money, through “creative problem solving” and advocated for instead lowering class sizes or adding aide time to help teachers. Additional counselors could be used to help with discipline, and they suggested stipends as a way to hire a curriculum director.

“Schools in California are coming into a time of tremendous change,” Emerson said, in curriculum, Common Core, and Smarter Balance assessments. All the processes currently built into the system around old state standards and STAR testing won’t move forward.

“We need to build a good, strong system together as a team to put our schools back on top in the north state,” Emerson said. “We also want to be a school with great technology.”

Having two principals will allow for twice the relationships with students, and twice the support for teachers and parents, as well as more visibility on school grounds, she said.

“Principals don’t just handle discipline, but they also provide resources for all teachers and staff.”

While Rizzo concentrates on MSE, it will allow Riccomini more time at Sisson.

The district had two principals until four years ago, when the budget crisis hit, and Sally Gasaway was asked to be principal for both schools. Riccomini was hired to replace Gasaway when she retired after one year under that arrangement, and has been principal for both schools since.

“I think it was always the intention to bring back another principal when we were able,” said Emerson.

“A principal will not lower class sizes to allow more effective teaching,” The teachers said in the Letter to the Editor. “A principal will not be able to work one on one with students who need extra support. A principal will not be available daily to physically staff needed positions to enable the school to function more safely, effectively, and efficiently.”

They also said two principals cannot be justified with an enrollment of 500.