Glide supt. to head SH schools

Sean C. Morgan

The District 55 School Board last week offered the position of superintendent to Don Schrader, who holds that position in the Glide School District, and he has accepted.

The board will vote Monday evening whether to officially hire and approve a contract with Schrader.

If approved, Schrader will succeed Dr. Larry Horton, who will retire at the end of the school year and serve as part-time superintendent for the Reedsport School District.

Schrader has been superintendent in Glide since 2005. He previously has been an principal at West School, elementary, and at the middle school in the Sutherlin School District. He was assistant principal at Sutherlin High School.

He taught school at all levels in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District in California and in the Sutherlin School District from 1985 to 1998. He coached football, wrestling and baseball from 1984 to 1997.

Schrader grew up in the San Francisco Bay area in Concord.

“When I was in college, I was a premed major,” Schrader said. He also played football as a strong safety at Boise State in 1981.

“I came back one year, and started coaching at the high school I graduated from,” Schrader said. “I really liked it. It came natural for me.”

From then on, he wanted to be a teacher and coach high school sports.

While coaching, he attended college, earning his bachelor’s degree from California State University at Hayward in 1987. He completed his master’s degree and the administrative licensure program at the University of Oregon in 2002.

His last couple of years in San Ramon, Schrader said, he had a “really good principal” who started pushing him toward administration.

He was running a number of programs in the school, including an after-school program. In 1995, he was involved in obtaining donations to connect the school to the Internet, and the school was one of the first in the area to get connected.

“I’m very excited,” Schrader said of the job offer. I think, after talking with the board members and staff, there’s great stuff going on in Sweet Home.

“It’s something I’ve been waiting for, for a long time. I’m ready to take on a bigger district.”

The districts are similar except for size, he said. He sees similarities in both the student population and the challenges.

He wore many hats in Glide, including curriculum director, director of special education and principal at different levels. In Sweet Home, he won’t be able to divide himself as much.

“I don’t know in Sweet Home there needs to be a lot of improvements,” Schrader said. He plans to get to know people, and during his first year, he will be building relationships with community members and the School Board.

The district and he are moving the same direction, he said. The district shares his philosophy, moving kids in a direction to be successful.

“I’m sure Sweet Home is moving in a good direction, and I just want to move along with them,” he said.

As in Glide, Schrader will face budget issues as he goes to work in Sweet Home.

“I’m able to work with an administrative team and a group of teacher leaders,” he said. He expects to have a dialogue and develop priorities.

In Glide, he needed to make sure he had a large enough ending fund balance to open the doors and make payroll at the beginning of the school year, he said. He brought in the stakeholders, including community members, classified staff, certified staff and administrators, and formed a budget task force.

The district had to cut 10 percent, $600,000 out of a $6.1 million budget.

He’ll bring experience with a four-day week, something that’s on the list of potential reductions in Sweet Home next year.

Glide went to a four-day week around 2001, he said. The board tried to restore it once, but the community turned that idea down. The attempt to move back to a five-day week led to a recall of school board members.

It saved up to $100,000 per year in Glide, he said. “Everybody seems to have adjusted fine.”

Teachers have less time to meet during the school day, which is longer; but they meet on in-service days scheduled for some Fridays.

“Everything’s going to be looked at,” he said. “We cut last year, so we’re bare bones now.”

Priorities must be fiscally responsible, while being sensitive that the reductions mean people, he said. “Everything we do, we try to have the least impact on kids. At this point, there’s going to be an impact. It’s not good for anyone, but it’s going to have to happen.”

That’s generally his style as a leader, Schrader said. “For the most part, we have a good staff, a good administrative team. I’ve always been a good listener. I value their opinions. Certainly decisions need to be made in a collaborative way. Lots of people there in Sweet Home are smarter than I am.”

Usually, decisions can be made that way, but at other times, he said, he can make the hard decisions.

When it gets controversial, he said, “I try to go along without panicking. Whatever’s happened, it’ll get better.”

He doesn’t get too stressed, he said. “Don’t panic. Go through the process.”

He’s been tested too.

Last year, when Glide had to make many budget cuts and close a school, Schrader said, it eventually grew into a recall attempt against the School Board, but it didn’t succeed.

In 2008, fire destroyed Glide High School on July 2, yet more difficult times.

“We had two months to get school ready to open,” he said. The district had to get it cleaned up, move in modular buildings and get school open.

School opened on time, he said.

In his first year as superintendent, seven students died in different accidents, he said.

“That’s tough on a small community like this. We got through it.”

He also guided Glide through a successful $10.8 million bond levy followed by construction, he said.

Sweet Home is developing professional learning communities, which allow teachers to meet and study data concerning how well their efforts are working with students. With that data, they can determine the best strategies to teach children.

Schrader supports the concept and has been involved in developing professional learning communities in Glide.

“We have only just started,” he said, but in a way, his district had been doing it all along.

The goal is improving instruction, he said. “If we do that, our kids will be successful.”

Schrader is married to Natalie, his wife of 27 years. They have two children, Nathaniel Schrader and Halie Wright. His son is married to Nicole, and they have a son and daughter. His daughter is married to Jason, and they have one son.

He is looking forward to moving to Sweet Home, he said. He loves it, and is looking forward to golfing in the area.

Glide has one gas station and convenience store, much different from Sweet Home, he said. “I saw grocery stores and Starbucks, people moving around and kids riding bikes on sidewalks. I was hooked.”

Glide has a population of a few thousand and 680 students in the district.

“I’m totally excited and motivated, looking forward to this,” Schrader said.