A superintendent from the El Dorado Union High School District is the finalist for the top job in the Elk Grove Unified School District, both districts announced Monday.
If trustees of the Elk Grove district’s board of directors name 46-year-old Christopher R. Hoffman as superintendent Tuesday night, he would become the sixth superintendent to lead the district in its 55-year existence. And he would be the first alumnus to fill the post. He graduated in 1986 from Elk Grove’s Valley High School.
Hoffman has been with El Dorado Union since 2008, spending the first two years as associate superintendent and the last four as superintendent.
Former Superintendent Steven M. Ladd vacated the Elk Grove job Friday after announcing his retirement in June. He led the 62,500-student district for more than nine years.
Hoffman’s selection tonight would take him from a relatively small district, which serves about 7,000 students drawn largely from 12 feeder districts in El Dorado County, to the largest school district in the Sacramento region and the fifth-largest in the state.
There also are demographic differences. Half the students in the Elk Grove district are eligible for reduced-price meals, compared to one in five in El Dorado Union. The Elk Grove district’s enrollment is three-fourths minority. A quarter of students are minorities in the El Dorado district.
Jeremy Meyers, El Dorado County superintendent of schools, described Hoffman’s leadership style as collaborative. He said the candidate should have no difficulty in managing a much larger school district with far greater diversity.
Hoffman has “always been committed to learning for all students and meeting the needs of all students,” Meyers said.
“The county office runs a number of programs for students disadvantaged in one way or another,” he said. “We’ve actually seen our enrollment decline as a result of (Hoffman) designing programs to meet the needs of those students within the district.”
He said the progression to Elk Grove would be “a natural step” for Hoffman, since his engagement in local education already extends beyond El Dorado Union.
“The high school district is the largest district in our county, and (Hoffman) has been key in working with the feeder school districts,” Meyers said. “He really understands that the success of the high schools depends on the preparedness of the kids. He has worked very closely with the feeder schools to make sure there is alignment and that they have shared goals for students.”
Hoffman has resided in Elk Grove for the last 30 years, despite taking several jobs outside the city.
“It has just been home,” Hoffman said. “There were thoughts about moving up the hill. But with my boys having the same friends since kindergarten and Elk Grove schools readily meeting their needs, it was just the right fit.”
His sons, 15-year-old Jacob and 16-year-old Chris, attend Cosumnes Oaks High School in Elk Grove.
Hoffman said he did not want to have a detailed discussion about the post before trustees vote to fill the seat, saying he wanted to “honor the process.”
“Right now, I’m excited about the opportunity. I’m hopeful they’ll take the action that will allow me to serve in the community where I’ve lived for many years,” he said. “But I want to ensure the board has an opportunity to make sure they are comfortable with the decision.”
Hoffman received his bachelor of arts degree in social science at California State University, Sacramento, before receiving teaching and administrative credentials at Chapman University, CSUS and the University of La Verne in Southern California. At La Verne, he also earned his master’s degree in education.
He began his teaching career in the Elk Grove district, first at Valley High School in 1992 and before becoming chair of the social science department at Laguna Creek High School in 1994 – the first year of that school’s existence. He advanced to vice principal at Laguna Creek in 1998.
Hoffman was named principal at Tokay High School in Lodi in 2001, where he served for three years. He spent the next four years as principal at Mira Loma High School in the San Juan Unified School District, leaving in 2008 to take a leadership post at the El Dorado district.
Elk Grove Unified began searching for a superintendent earlier this summer with the help of a contract search firm, McPherson & Jacobson LLC.
The district also conducted an online survey, held eight community meetings and convened 25 stakeholder meetings.