Schools - December 21, 2011

Hartwig to retire from Las Lomitas district

by Renee Batti

Eric Hartwig, the superintendent of the Las Lomitas School District since 2007, has announced his plans to retire next June, wrapping up a 36-year career in education that included a stint as Menlo-Atherton High School principal.

The school board approved Mr. Hartwig's request to retire at the end of the school year when it met Dec. 14, and has appointed board members Ann Jaquith and Jay Siegel to organize the search process for a new superintendent, according to a district announcement.

The district's two elementary schools are Las Lomitas in Atherton and La Entrada Middle School in Menlo Park.

In a letter to district parents and staff, Mr. Hartwig said his decision to retire was made "with very mixed feelings, as I take great satisfaction in my work and have enormous affection for our families and staff."

But circumstances were right for the move, he explained. "The timing is perfect for me — my wife is now teaching part-time, we are new grandparents, and I have a variety of personal and professional projects on the burner — and the timing is good for our district, as we are on the verge of launching a new strategic plan."

Mr. Hartwig said in an interview that by the time he leaves, the district will have completed phase one on the strategic plan: In February, the board is likely to approve the plan itself, developed over the course of about nine months to establish the district's vision for programs that will enable students to thrive in a quickly changing, globally competitive world.

"Phase one is the 'what'; phase two is the 'how'," he said. Because the second step of deciding how to implement the plan, then launching changes, will take from four to seven years, it's best for a single superintendent to oversee that phase — and at 63, he wasn't planning to continue working long enough to serve that role.

Regarding his future "personal and professional projects," Mr. Hartwig notes that his new grandson, Ryder, "is a bundle of love ... and it will be nice to play a role in his life."

A member of the Rotary Club of Menlo Park, Mr. Hartwig said he will continue his community work through the club. He's also eager to work on projects in the nonprofit and non-public school arena, citing as an example efforts to help disadvantaged students take full advantage of education opportunities.

Achievements over the last four and a half years that he's most proud of, he said, include weathering "some very tough financial times without compromising the educational program." The district adjusted its course "without having to eliminate staff or programs, and I'm very, very proud of that."

Also, he said, the district has added significant depth to its mathematics curriculum, and created a new Mandarin language program.

Just prior to his appointment as the district's superintendent, Mr. Hartwig worked for the Sequoia Union High School District, serving nine years as principal at M-A, and three years as the district's director of student services.


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