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  • Randall Benton /

    El Dorado County schools chief Vicki Barber, who is retiring June 30, regrets the downsizing of programs necessitated by budget cuts. In coming years, she foresees an increasing emphasis on instructional technology, using a variety of devices.

  • Vicki Barber

Q&A: El Dorado schools chief stepping down but staying busy

Published: Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 - 6:43 am

Vicki Barber is ending her reign June 30 as the El Dorado County schools chief after nearly 20 years in the role.

She announced her retirement Tuesday. Barber, 61, was elected five consecutive times to the top education post at the Office of Education.

Jeremy Meyers, deputy superintendent, will serve as the county superintendent until 2014, when the position will go on the ballot.

Why did you decide to retire now?

I want to do some things in education as an education consultant, joining my husband, Louis Barber, a former assistant superintendent for the California Department of Education. I always tease that my husband flunked retirement, and I think it's a good model.

What are your immediate plans?

The first six months I will volunteer my time and offer support at the county Office of Education. After that, I anticipate the county will offer me a contract (with a ceiling of $40,000) to continue helping charter schools meet special education requirements.

You were elected to be county schools chief five times. Why do you think that happened?

I tend to think it's because we have an incredible team – and I would extend that to the educators in our schools in El Dorado County. Schools in the county have seen continual improvement. I have been the beneficiary of all that work that is being done by 6,000 people involved in education in El Dorado County.

What was your biggest challenge?

School districts have spent five years making cuts to shore up their budgets. It's hard to look at dismantling programs folks have built, that they think are exceptional, and having to do reductions in force.

The county Office of Education had to cut nine administrators from its ranks three years ago. Educators are notorious for making it work. At the same time you continue to ask more and more from employees and from yourself. It comes to the point that you finally say I can't continue to do the same job with so few people.

Do you think some of the 15 school districts in the county should consolidate?

I do think it should happen. We have tried very hard to make sure it's left to a local decision. >

What sort of changes do you expect to see in the next 30 years?

I think we will see a much greater emphasis on instructional technology and options. That will include using tablets and notebooks and all the different types of devices. I see students accessing information from teachers 24 hours a day with the possibility of more models that flip the educational script.

Students could view lessons in the evening via computers and other devices, with homework done at school during the day with the guidance of a teacher. I think we will see some exciting things.

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