26-year KHSD employee named as next superintendent

26-year KHSD employee named as next superintendent »Play Video
Dr. Bryon Schaefer, named as the next Kern High School District superintendent, responds to his appointment, Monday, March 3, 2014, in Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The Kern High School District announced its new superintendent Monday, picking a 26-year district employee to take over the role when current superintendent Dr. Don Carter retires Aug. 1.

Dr. Bryon Schaefer, KHSD assistant superintendent for personnel, will become the 21st person to serve as district superintendent.

"The No. 1 thing is student achievement," Schaefer said when asked about his priorities in the new job. "We want to be sure every child would have an appropriate education in our district."

He'll now be the leader of the biggest 9-12 high school district in the state. KHSD officials said they have more than 35,000 students and 3,500 employees.

"Dr. Schaefer, at the end of the day, was the best of the best of our candidates, and what we were looking for directionally for the district," Board President Chad Vegas told Eyewitness News.

He also said the board wanted someone who could "hit the ground running."

But, critics had urged the school board to also look at candidates outside the district. In a Feb. 3 school board meeting, comments from the public included a request to consider the high number of minority students in the district.

Vegas said the board had heard other public input.

"We got lots, and lots, and lots of community members who also told us that if we can hire in house, that would be a much better option," Vegas said. "And, we'd be saving the district tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing that, which can go right to paying for a teacher or paying for classified employees."

The announcement came during a special board meeting Monday morning. Vegas said notice of that was made public on Friday, 72 hours ahead of the session.

And, he had high praise for Schaefer as their selection.

"He had great vision, great charisma, great intelligence, a huge amount of experience, and he understands the mind of the board and where we hope to see the district go," Vegas said.

Schaefer started with the district in 1987 as a math teacher at East Bakersfield High School. He also taught at Stockdale and held several administrative roles at North, including principal.

On the district level, Schaefer served in both his current role and as assistant superintendent for business.

He holds a doctorate from the University of Laverne, a master's from California State University, Bakersfield, and a bachelor's from University of South Dakota.

Schaefer said he's excited about the new position.

"There are no immediate problems that we have," he said. "One of the first things that I want to do is I want to reach out to everyone. I want to work with our principals, I want to work with our community members," Schaefer said. "And to hopefully affirm that the Board has made a right choice in the selection of me."