Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dr. Ovick Elected President of California State Superintendents’ Association

In looking for a leader with proven success, guidance skills, and applicable experience, during these challenging times in California public education, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Joseph A. Ovick, Ed.D. was recently elected as the 2012 president of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA). His commitment to this post will begin in January of 2011, serving as president-elect, with his presidency following in January 2012.

CCSESA provides the organizational mechanism for the 58 County Superintendents of Schools to design and implement statewide programs to identify and promote quality cost-effective educational practices and services, and provide support to school districts in the areas of student services, curriculum and instructional services, fiscal accountability and business services, and technology and telecommunications. CCSESA advocates on behalf of K-12 and early childhood education at state and federal levels. The organization maintains a website at

“Our state’s public schools have been forced to continually find ways to do more with less, as we watch our education budgets plummet,” says Dr. Ovick. “I look forward to working as president of CCSESA organization with county superintendents across the state to provide the stability in leadership and advocacy for our children’s education that is so crucial to the future of California.”

Dr. Ovick was elected to this position due to his extraordinary capabilities as a leader and manager who has developed strong coalitions of educators, community members, business leaders, and legislators in support of public schools. He has always been known to successfully communicate a compelling vision, and bring together the people and resources required to accomplish that vision.

Congressman George Miller, Chair of the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee says, "I have often turned to ‘Joe’ for unvarnished, detailed information about education and youth. His keen insights and wealth of information often help me make decisions about shaping, supporting or opposing key pieces of legislation."

Dr. Ovick advocates for all learners in the state and the nation by providing sound, practical counsel to legislators in the crafting of key education legislation.
In addition to his tireless advocacy for K-12 funding, he has gone to bat for establishing universal preschools, because he supports a young child's right to enter elementary school prepared. He is a strong advocate for funding of community colleges and state universities. He travels to Washington, D.C. annually to update and discuss educational concerns with our members of Congress and the U.S. Senate. He is also a longtime strong voice for special education in his quest to secure full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Dr. Ovick has been an educator for more than 40 years. He began his career teaching special education students in Santa Clara County, followed by serving as an assistant principal and principal. Later on, he joined the Contra Costa County Office of Education, as director of special education; assistant superintendent, student services; and associate superintendent, business. Since 1996 he has been the county’s superintendent of schools. In each of these jobs, he has maintained direct contact with students, and as superintendent, he visits classrooms regularly.

Dr. Ovick obtained his BA and MS at San Jose State University, followed by earning his Ed.D. at the University of La Verne.

California’s 58 County Superintendents of Schools and their respective county offices of education support the financial and academic stability of every district and school in the state. The primary aim of County Superintendents is to work collaboratively with school districts to ensure that every student benefits from a quality educational experience, regardless of their circumstances.

County Superintendents

The position of County Superintendent of Schools, established in the California State Constitution in 1879, has evolved to meet the changing needs of the state and its students. The responsibilities of these constitutional officers fall generally into these categories:

  • Educating specific student populations (i.e., special education and disenfranchised youth);
  • Monitoring and oversight of student academic environment;
  • Implementing regional support activities to assist district and school staffs;
  • Monitoring and oversight for district fiscal stability;
  • Providing direct services to small school districts; and
  • Providing academic support and assistance to districts and their schools.
*Quick Facts:
  • There are 6.2 million students in California (Source: California Department of Education, Educational Demographics Office (CBEDS, 2008/2009)
  • There are 1,043 districts in California (2008/2009)
  • There are 58 County Superintendents in California
  • 53 County Superintendents are elected; 5 are appointed
  • Appointed County Superintendents include: Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Clara
  • There are 7 single district counties in the state: Alpine, Amador, Del Norte, Mariposa, Plumas, San Francisco, and Sierra

Two CCCOE Cabinet Appointments Have Been Filled

As part of the senior managerial portion of the Contra Costa County Office of Education’s (CCCOE) reorganization plan, Superintendent of Schools Joseph A. Ovick, Ed.D. recently announced two prominent changes to the organization’s cabinet. Current CCCOE cabinet member, Karen Sakata, has been named as the new associate superintendent of human resources and Pamela Comfort, Ed.D. has been hired to serve as the associate superintendent of educational services, a move that combines the departments of Educational Services with Student Programs and Services and eliminates one associate superintendent position.

In continuing to successfully meet the demands of providing quality service to the county’s students, teachers, and school districts, while also working within its own ongoing budget cuts, the CCCOE has been enacting a number of changes within its organization. The most significant change has been the recent voluntary early retirement of 51 CCCOE teachers, classified staff, administrators, and directors. Of those 51 vacated positions, approximately 20 (primarily teachers and instructional aids) will be replaced by new hires in the very near future. Another considerable
adjustment with the CCCOE is the recent merging and restructuring of departments inside the agency, which makes these two cabinet updates so important. Since May 2008, Sakata has been the CCCOE’s associate superintendent of student programs and services. Prior to joining the CCCOE, Sakata was serving as principal of Ayers Elementary School, in Concord (Mt. Diablo Unified School District). Sakata brings more than 35 years of experience as a classroom teacher and an education administrator to her new position. She will be replacing the recently retired Associate Superintendent of Human Resources Michael Bowers.

“Karen [Sakata] was the perfect choice for this position because of her experience regarding personnel issues and because she is a graduate of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Personnel Academy and has attended the ACSA Personnel Institute,” reports Dr. Ovick. “She has assumed a leadership role backed by ten years of experience with negotiations, and she has both school district and COE experience with recruitments, staff evaluation, and conflict resolution, as it relates to providing quality services, while fully recognizing that the most important resource that we have is our staff.”

With the recent vacancy of Sakata’s former position and the retirement of Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Susan Magnone, the departments of Educational Services and Student Programs and Services were recently merged and will now be directed by Dr. Comfort.

Dr. Comfort joins the CCCOE after serving for the past two years as the assistant superintendent of educational services with the Newark Unified School District (Newark, Calif.). Prior to that position, she was the director of instruction and program improvement with the San Lorenzo Unified School District (San Lorenzo, Calif.). Her impressive work experience also includes other administration, principal, and teaching positions held with other Alameda County schools and schools districts, beginning in 1992.

“We feel very fortunate to have Dr. Comfort join us here at the CCCOE,” continues Dr. Ovick. “Her excellent background and vast applicable experience will be so important to fill this new cabinet position.”

These two appointments, as well as a number of other CCCOE employee and departmental changes were officially enacted on July 1, 2010.