Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Todd Lile, newly named superintendent of Madera Unified, is congratulated by his wife, Jessica, and children, Luke, 9, Ian, 6, and Ben, 4.
Interim Superintendent Todd Lile is in his first week as permanent captain at the helm of Madera Unified School District.
In a unanimous vote, the school board hired the new superintendent at its June 27 board meeting to replace former superintendent Ed Gonzalez.
The move has muted much of the criticism the board incurred when it fired Gonzalez on Feb. 15.
In appointing Lile, the board spent no money or time hiring headhunters to find Madera’s next schools chief, thus laying to rest expectations that the district would spend thousands of dollars in the search to replace Gonzalez.
The board also seems to have dodged another bullet of criticism that came from firing the popular Gonzalez by hiring Lile, who has wide-spread support throughout the community and has been an inextricable part of Madera all of his life.
Board president Al Galvez made the announcement to a packed house, which included Lile’s wife, Jessica, and their three sons, both of his parents and other relatives, some coming from as far away as Arizona.
In making the announcement, Galvez said, “This is momentous for our students, our staff, and our community. This is going to be a game changer for our school district.
“Our expectations are high, and we have high confidence that our expectations will be met and exceeded,” Galvez added.
Although Lile’s appointment came as no surprise, emotion caught the new superintendent unawares as he looked out at the audience and acknowledged his family’s support.
Choking back tears for a brief moment, Lile said, “I can’t even look you in the eyes right now.”
He went on to acknowledge his support from the community.
“I really appreciate what the city of Madera and Madera Unified has always meant to me.”
“I feel the expectations on my shoulders, and I promise that I will do my very best to live up to your trust.”
Lile is a true Madera native, having been born here and educated in local schools.
He began his education at John Adams Elementary and continued at Howard School and Thomas Jefferson Middle School. He graduated from Madera High School in 1992.
After graduating from Fresno State, Lile was hired by Clovis Unified to teach at CART, its innovative Center for Research and Technology.
Lile had two stints of teaching overseas, one in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and the other at Dubai, then it was back to CART for one year before Madera South High School called to entice him to Madera as one of its vice principals. He remained in that position for 3 1/2 years and then moved into the principal’s chair.
Lile came to the district office when Ed Gonzalez wanted him as the chief academic officer for Madera’s middle schools and high schools.
All indications are that Lile will work harmoniously with the present school board, some of whom show a pugnacious tendency from time to time.
Trustees and the district’s administration are presently engaged in a series of governance workshops designed to explore how a school district’s leadership can avoid the pitfalls of division and dissension.
Lile did not waste any time getting started in his new capacity. Shortly after his appointment was announced, he laid before the board a plan for completely reorganizing the district’s upper level administration.
The board is expected to take up the new plan at its next board meeting. In the meantime, trustees will have to turn their attention to the vacancy created by the departure of Associate Superintendent Victor Villar.
The job has not been advertised, creating the possibility that the board will look inside the district to fill the position.