After less than two months of deliberation, the Clovis Unified school board voted on Tuesday to hire district staffer Eimear O’Farrell as the next superintendent.
O’Farrell, assistant superintendent for the Clovis West High School region, will replace Janet Young as district superintendent, who announced her plans to retire last month.
The 53-year-old from Dublin, Ireland was hired at Clovis Unified in 1993 as a teacher at Maple Creek Elementary School. She later became principal at Clovis West in 2012, prior to taking on the assistant superintendent role.
She earned her doctoral degree in educational leadership at Fresno State in 2010.
O’Farrell seemed surprised by Tuesday’s announcement. In her Irish accent, she thanked her colleagues, and said she was humbled to lead the district she chose to make home more than 20 years ago.
“From the moment I stepped foot in this district, I felt the difference,” O’Farrell said. “I’m surrounded with wonderful, dedicated people everyday who hold themselves to very high expectations and have a passion for teaching and caring for children. And I identify with that. That warms my heart and and lights my fire everyday. That’s really why I stayed.”
While O’Farrell says she is open to change, she hopes to preserve the high-achieving district’s academic standards. The district is the state’s 16th-largest, but is projected to be the fourth-largest in a decade.
“As we look at the changes that are coming our way, we have to focus on what has helped us to be successful thus far,” she said. “I think preserving the culture that we have and making decisions that are based on our core values, I really feel if we do that, we will be able to change and progress without compromising the quality of education we provide everyday.”
Since Young’s announcement April 10, the board has conducted a statewide search for her replacement, and opened up comments to the public regarding desired qualities and characteristics of the next district leader.
Young made more than $240,000 annually. O’Farrell’s contract is still being finalized. Once that is done, it will become public, including her salary.