Mammoth Unified School Superintendent Jennifer Wildman has resigned her position, effective July 31.
Dr. Wildman served the district for approximately three years.
She was the recent subject of a no-confidence vote by district teachers. While the vote did not remove Dr. Wildman, it became clear it woule be an uphill battle for Wildman to win over her detractors.
In a resignation letter she released Wednesday, Wildman described the challenges of the pandemic, pointed out that no students or staff members became seriously ill, and touted a few academic achievements.
“Despite the obvious challenges, student academic achievement and social-emotional metrics have shown significant improvement over the past three years. We have increased Career and Technical Education course access and College & Career Indicators while we decreased chronic absences. As an example, we have increased the number of socioeconomically disadvantaged students enrolled in dual/concurrent college courses from 0% in 2018 to 34% in 2022. Local reading and math assessments show ongoing growth … We also negotiated multiple agreements with our unions for health & safety protocols, school schedules and annual salary increases, and ensured that no staff had to use their personal time-off for COVID-related absences.”
She also took a small swipe at her detractors.
“School districts work best when boards and superintendents are a united governance team. School districts are successful when administrators, board members, parents and staff collaborate for the betterment of students. People do not always have to agree, but a team approach is critical for the success of all students. Unfortunately, with obstacles we have faced over the past few years, the educational community in Mammoth has become divided. Hopefully, a fresh start will mean good things for the district and a return to the focus on the goals and programs that support our students.
… I am leaving MUSD to seek a fresh start and new opportunities where I can make a difference for kids in a positive environment.”
The implication being that her current environment is not positive.
The Sheet spoke to Wildman via telephone on Tuesday. She was home with a case of Covid.
Wildman said she told her board two weeks ago that she was leaving.
Looking back, said she saw the writing on the wall with the January school closure due to Covid. She believed it created a “short fuse” so when the high school principal recruitment did not go the way some critics would have liked, it spelled doom.
Interestingly, she spoke a bit about her doctoral dissertation, which she had finished just as the pandemic was unfolding.
Her dissertation topic: superintendent transitions.
She says the average school superintendent has a tenure of just 2.5 years.
But for a superintendent to make meaningful positive change, they generally have to remain in the position for six years.
She said during superintendent transitions, the roles of administrators and board members also shift, as the board has to become far more involved in the day-to-day operational role.
The MUSD Board had agenda items for the appointment of an interim superintendent and high school principal on Wednesday’s special meeting agenda but did not take action on either item.
MUSD Board President Dr. Tom Painter sent out a terse email on Monday announcing Dr. Wildman’s resignation. He wrote, “Dr. Wildman has provided exemplary service to the district.”
Congratulations to the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival and Festival Founder Shira Dubrovner for being honored as one of MovieMaker’s top 25 coolest festivals.
Just so we’re clear, the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival differs from the Mammoth Film Festival, which was started by out-of-towners about three years after Shira’s festival debuted.
The Mammoth Film Festival sponsored this year’s Fourth of July Parade. In the scripts read by dutiful Mammoth Lakes Tourism/Chamber parade announcers, they claimed theirs was Mammoth’s only film festival.
Which is pretty hilarious, seeing as I haven’t heard boo from these people in years – or ever since they stiffed me on a bill so I banned their festival from being mentioned in these pages – unless I wish to point out that they stiffed me on a bill.
I’ve never heard the Mammoth Film Festival mentioned in any context anywhere – they’ve got about as much buzz as a bee in a thunderstorm.
I sure hope the Chamber collected the parade sponsorship money up front.
Speaking of out-of-towners who owe me money, how about MAWS (Mammoth All-Weather Shuttle)? Mammoth Lakes Tourism subsidizes the company to the tune of $300,000/year. And they can’t pay a $156 bill. And they drive around town in vans with Colorado plates. Hope the MLPD starts pulling ‘em over.
Inyo County Supervisors pulled the plug on raising the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) rate from 12% to 14% in the unincorporated areas of the county during a public hearing on Tuesday.
Supervisors did, however, opt to place a measure on the November ballot which would initiate compelling campgrounds and RV parks to charge TOT. The vote was 3-2, with Supervisors Roeser and Pucci voting no.
Roeser said it was discouraging to add another $3/night to what has traditionally been the most inexpensive of lodging alternatives. “These vacations should remain affordable,” said Roeser, who claimed that 40% of those camping in the Inyo National Forest are locals who reside in 935- zip codes.
Pucci said ‘this is not the right time’ to jack fees and even referred to himself as a ‘dispersed camping guy,’ citing high campground fees nationwide.
The other three supervisors (Kingsley, Totheroh, Griffiths) sided with Treasurer/Tax Collector Alisha McMurtrie’s rationale that this is an equity issue – a visitor is a visitor and their impact on services and infrastructure is the same, no matter where they choose to stay, and all visitors should pay the same rate.
A pretty funny exchange occurred between Doug Brown (of Brown’s Town, opposed to the imposition of TOT on campgrounds and RV parks) and Supervisor Kingsley.
Kingsley, noting Brown pays 12% TOT on a campground he operates in Mono County, asked, “How’s business?”
A surprised Brown fumbled for words before having to admit “It’s good.”
Kingsley’s point being that the imposition of TOT on campgrounds is likely not a deal-breaker.
And from Crocetti’s desk …
On Thursday, July 14, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) along with the Mammoth Lakes Police Department (MLPD) located an illegal campsite off of SR 203 near the USFS Helipad using brand-new UAV (drone) technology. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, to have located the campsite without the use of the drone, as the site was a “considerable” distance away from both 203 and the helipad.
Though a “considerable” distance away, the campers were still too close to the helipad. The USFS currently has a helicopter staged in that area for potential fire operations and the area surrounding the helipad is closed to stage additional fire equipment. The illegal campers supposedly caused the Forest Service to be unable to secure their fire equipment in the area. According to MLPD, the officers felt as though the people camped there were in potential danger because of proximity to the helipad.
“Our intent was to protect the people,” said MLPD Executive Assistant Christina Ackerman. “The camp was less than a 1/4 mile from the helipad. The Forest Service uses type 3 helicopters for fire-fighting which are high-risk and require a minimum clearance for safely landing and taking off. The USFS asked MLPD to move them so that they could bring in their helicopters,” wrote MLPD on their Facebook page’s post about the event.
After locating the site, officers contacted two subjects who had set up residence. One major concern during the contact was an illegal campfire. Both individuals were advised to clean up the camp and move along. “There was a fire but it was put out by the time we got there. Even if we find someone with an obvious illegal fire, if it’s put out, we can’t do anything about it. It’s like if someone’s parked in the lot drunk, we can’t prove that they drove,” explained Ackerman.