“There are huge differences between me and my opponent. I am bringing years of experience at every level of education,” said Craig Wheaton candidate for Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) Superintendent. “I’ve been a teacher, counselor, coach, principal, superintendent and, now, Deputy Superintendent of Schools for Tulare County.”
During a get-together of about 100 people at the house of Donna and Barry Sommer September 20, Craig Wheaton outlined why he is the best choice to succeed Jim Vidak as the next TCOE Supervisor.
Running a countywide office with 43 school districts is a world away from what his opponent, Tim Hire, does running one small school district said Wheaton.
Wheaton pointed out that in his previous job as Superintendent of VUSD he managed nearly 3000 employees and 28,000 students. His challenger is the current superintendant of Exeter School District that has far fewer staff and only 2,800 students.
“Mr. Vidak hired me away from my job with Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) based on my qualifications because he knows the importance of experienced leadership.”
“In order to continue the county’s success we need a superintendent who can hit the ground running and the county can’t afford to slow down with someone who requires on-the-job training,” he said.
One of the accomplishments Wheaton is most proud of during his six year tenure as superintendent is the increase in graduation rates.
“The graduation rates went from 80% to 94% while I lead VUSD.”
VUSD has sustained their graduations rates and has the second best rates behind Tulare Unified School District. Exeter High School is second to last in the county concerning graduation rates at 83%
“Our graduation success rate grew every year and disadvantaged students stayed in school because they had hope for the future,” he said.
Wheaton said that the voters should look at someone’s track record to see what they have accomplished.
The attendees of the soiree concurred.
Donna Sommer said that she first worked with Wheaton on the administrative side at VUSD and at TCOE. She said that he is the most qualified for the job and perfect for when the county makes the transition from Jim Vidak, who has lead TCOE for 28 years.
Mel Borbolla is a big supporter of Vidak and was impressed when Vidak recruited Wheaton out of VUSD. He said Wheaton got his vote when he said he was committed to continuing with Vidak’s program of eliminating gangs in schools.
“As far as my next professional step, I plan to continue the work Vidak has started,” said Wheaton.
One of Wheaton’s major issues is safety in the schools. He said most schools now have just one point of entry which is helpful, but said that not just one strategy is going to prevent a school shooter.
He has focused on the education of all the teachers, parents and students and has recruited the help of the first responders to hold workshops on recent changes in the school safety landscape. He said that TCOE is central command of safety for the students at school.
“This is such an important time here and nationally to ensure the schools are safe and that our students graduate with the skills not just for college but to find a job.”
“Our goal is that students of all backgrounds achieve their education goals,” he said.