Hollister School District officials recently selected two local education leaders to join its district office administrative staff, according to a March 14 press release.
Hollister native Kip Ward was named director of student services, and veteran educator Gwen Baquiran was chosen as the district’s director of special education. Both hires were announced at the March 12 Board of Education meeting.
Superintendent Diego Ochoa, who has been working to revamp the district’s special education department amid non-compliance issues determined by the state education department, praised the hires as important steps in the process of establishing high-quality services for students and families.
Baquiran has been a resident and educator in the Hollister School District for more than a decade. She currently serves as program specialist for the San Benito County SELPA. She will be returning to Hollister after spending her first seven years as a special day class teacher in the district.
“Gwen is taking on a critical role. Our special education department is in need of major improvements, and she will bring the leadership we need to turn things around,” Ochoa said. “Gwen will identify excellent practices in place, establish standard protocols, update policies to shore up deficiencies, hire additional staff, reach out to parent groups and restructure the department.”
Ward, a former teacher in the Hollister School District, is a seasoned principal moving to the district office. He will remain at Ladd Lane until the end of the 2018-2019 school year and begin his new position July 1. Once at the district office, he will focus his efforts on attendance, discipline, foster/homeless programs, tobacco/drug prevention, counseling and social/emotional programs.
“He will work directly with school principals and use data to reach students who need support with regular school attendance,” Ochoa said of Ward. “He will also ensure that principals and teachers have support for implementing our Capturing Kids’ Hearts program.”
Hollister Prep gets new Hardin lease
With the addition of two more classrooms to accommodate its grade-level expansion, Navigator Schools’ Hollister Prep School was granted a new facilities use agreement for the 2019-20 by the Hollister School District’s Board of Education.
The board, which postponed the vote in February, unanimously ratified the deal at a March 12 meeting, following district staff’s recommendation in approving the one-year Prop. 39 Facilities Use Agreement.
Hollister Prep is projected to have an enrollment of 540 students for next school year. The charter school will add eighth grade in 2019-20 and was granted an increase from 17 to 19 classrooms on the R.O. Hardin Elementary School campus, located at 881 Line St. in Hollister.
In addition, the agreement allows the school to have “exclusive access to three rooms for office and other administrative use, exclusive use of the garage for storage and shared use of a storage container, multi-purpose room, restrooms, library, outside eating area, play fields and parking lot at the R.O. Hardin Elementary School site,” according to the staff report.
Per the agreement, Hollister Prep is responsible for its own custodial services and for all costs associated with routine maintenance and child nutrition services provided by the Hollister School District.
In the current 2018-19 year, Hollister Prep—which opened in Aug. 2013 at Hardin with authorization through the Hollister School District—has 480 students enrolled from kindergarten through seventh grade.