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School district hires new superintendent

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas Union School District trustees unanimously approved the hiring of a new superintendent during a special meeting May 11. Timothy Baird will replace retiring Superintendent Lean King in July when he retires.
Baird, who began his career in education as an elementary school teacher, will leave his post as the superintendent of Ojai Unified School district in June.
The trustees interviewed four finalists last week out of a field of 27 applicants. Board president Marla Strich said Baird’s personal and professional skills made a favorable impression. She said his ability to listen and communicate will enhance the district. “He’s a great match for the district.”
Baird, 52, has worked in the 3,100-student Ojai Unified School District —comprised of four elementary schools, one junior high and two high schools — for the last eight years as a superintendent and assistant superintendent. Encinitas Union enrolls 5,600 students at nine elementary schools.
Baird previously served as an assistant principal and principal at districts in central California.
The Encinitas school board’s five members traveled to Ojai, a rural community north of Ventura, for a site visit. Members traveled there with several school officials and a parent last week.
“He is well-loved in Ojai,” Strich said. Linda Taylor, president of Ojai Unified’s school board, said that Baird will be missed.
Baird is involved in the local community. He helped found the Ojai Valley Green Coalition and is a board member of several organizations including the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation, the Ojai Chamber of Commerce and the Ojai Performing Arts Theater Foundation.
Baird will have several issues on his plate when he assumes leadership of the district. While the district is financially sound according to officials, some parents have complained that not enough resources are put into gifted and talented programs.
“We see a race to the middle in public education in general,” Sarah Clark said. The Encinitas parent said instruction that elevates students to reach their academic potential and beyond is essential in education. “I want the new leader of this school district to know that all of our children can exceed our expectations of them,” she said. “What we need to do is raise the bar.”