Golden Valley makes major moves
For The Madera Tribune
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT — Felipe Piedra, Chris Imperatrice, Michael Grossman and Kevin Hatch.
The retirement of Golden Valley Unified School District Superintendent Rod Wallace at the end March signified a major change within the district.
Wallace’s retirement started the merry-go round of district administrators that caused a ripple effect down to Liberty High School’s counselor.
Kevin Hatch, who has been with the district before GVUSD even began, is now the district’s superintendent.
“I’m proud,” Hatch said. “It’s a little bit humbling. There’s a lot of great leaders in this district and it’s great to be a part of.”
Hatch began his career in the district at Webster Elementary, then part of Madera Unified School District.
“I’m one of the originals,” he said. “I got my admin credential. Once I finished that, I was the vice principal at Webster. I did a dual role taking on special education stuff for the district. I became the principal of Webster and went to Ranchos Middle School and then Assistant Superintendent of Education Services.”
With Hatch becoming the head of the district, his old position — Assistant Superintendent of Education Services — was vacant.
Liberty High School principal Felipe Piedra was promoted to the position.
“Ed services is actually a huge position,” Hatch said. “He’s in charge of all the school sites, curriculum instruction, state testing, categorical programs and special ed all falls under him. Hopefully, I can help him out there.”
With Piedra moving from Liberty to the district office, it opened another vacancy. In comes Ranchos Middle School Principal Chris Imperatrice, who began his career at Liberty.
“We do have a process for each of the position with the interviewing and hiring,” Hatch said. “There were some external candidates and we looked at everything. Chris is a natural leader. It makes perfect sense. He is going to do a great job at Liberty and continue that success there. He’ll run with it. It’s a full circle for him.”
Now, with Imperatrice moving up, it created a vacancy at the middle school. LHS counselor Michael Grossman was then promoted to become the RMS principal.
“We went through the interview process,” Hatch said. “We have great leaders. We could have taken many of our vice principals and thrown them in there. He did a great job in the interview process. He’s a great leader. He’s a good communicator with people and makes great connections with kids. He’s going to be another great asset.”
Now, all that’s left is to fill Grossman’s position at Liberty counselor.
However, all of the movement to higher positions was done by GVUSD personnel.
“That’s what we want to do is building our staff and students,” Hatch said. “We want to grow our own people.”
In addition to filling new positions, Hatch also oversaw the opening of Stone Creek Elementary School and the building of the Liberty High School Engineering, Agriscience and Farming (L.E.A.F.) building at the school.
“It’s exciting to be a part of the district,” Hatch said. “There’s a lot of neat things going on. We’re growing and we’re expanding programs.”
Hatch believes that the opening of the kindergarten through sixth grade Stone Creek helped increase the district’s enrollment by about 200 students.
“It’s hard to say with exact numbers,” he said. “We opened the elementary school with 300 students with about 100 who were at Webster. There’s a lot of opportunities. As you grow you can expand programs, and it’s going to be a great thing for our kids.”
The next project to be completed will the the L.E.A.F. building at Liberty.
“It was designed for ag, as well as manufacturing and environmental resources pathway,” Hatch said. “Those still need to be developed. The timing will depend on how quickly students enroll.”
Included with the L.E.A.F. building are stables and areas for animals to grow.
“The ag people have been waiting a long time for that. It’s been a dream for years,” Hatch said.
On the horizon for GVUSD could be the building of a new elementary school.
“The next thing, with the rate they are selling homes, is to build another elementary school,” he said. “We have plans on future expansion of the high school. The elementary school could be five years or 10. It all depends on how quickly the development grows.”
Hatch also said that renovating Webster and Sierra View Elementary are also in the plans.
The main thing for Hatch is to get the kids back in the classroom after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are really focusing on this year is rebuilding the culture and relationships within the district,” he said. “We want to focus on kids and get people together. We just want to get back to as normal as possible. Our goal is to educate kids. We’re trying to take our focus off the pandemic and move forward to get kids in class.
“We will be bringing on new schools on. We will have many schools, but have one community,” Hatch said.