Assistant superintendent leaving

School officials say Lopes will be missed
By: Patty McAlpin Lincoln News Messenger reporter
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Western Placer Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Business and Support Services Joyce Lopes has a new job at Humboldt State University. Lopes’ first day as the university’s vice president of administration and finance is Oct. 1. Her last day working for the school district will be Sept 28. She has been employed by the Western Placer Unified School District since January 2010. Previously, Lopes was a finance director at Sierra College, director of grants and contracts administration at California State University, Sacramento Foundation and controller at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. “Joyce Lopes brings outstanding professional credentials to HSU,” Humboldt State University President Rollin Richmond said in a press release. “The search committee and those who met Joyce during her campus visit spoke highly of her sincere dedication to students, the exceptional breadth and depth of her experience and her skill at teamwork.” For most of Lopes 30-year career in education, she has worked at higher-learning institutions. Western Placer Unified School District was the exception. “This was my first foray into K-12,” Lopes said. “It took me a little bit to learn some things.” Western Placer Unified School District board President Damian Armitage said he appreciated the way Lopes took him “under her wing” when he became a board member. “As a freshman board member, it is important to have someone step up and explain things,” Armitage said. “She is someone who has a vast amount of knowledge and will be sorely missed.” Western Placer Unified School District Superintendent Scott Leaman is sad to lose someone “of that quality but this is a great opportunity for her.” In her new position, Lopes will work at a university with 8,500 primarily residential students in Arcata. Her responsibilities will include oversight of business, budget, facilities, maintenance and operations, transportation, parking, police, human services, payroll food service on campus, the study body and the student store. Lopes is a certified public accountant. She holds a master’s degree in business administration and is a trained consultant in interest-based negotiations. “It’s been a difficult couple of years from the state budget perspective,” Lopes said. “Budget reductions have been difficult but there has been a very collaborative effort and I have enjoyed working with the collective bargaining units and management to meet long-term goals. I wish we had more money because, if the state could solve the budget crisis in the end, we could use the funds to better educate our students.” “We have done some really good things with the resources we have had. We have held off layoffs until this past year,” Lopes added. “We tried to keep the money in classrooms and education and found ways to economize through renegotiating contracts with suppliers and utility companies and found more efficient ways to approach cleaning and maintaining facilities. I think my directors have been very creative and collaborative about ways to manage costs to pay for instruction.” Western Placer Unified School District Deputy Superintendent Mary Boyle said Lopes will be “a tough person to replace.” “This is a fantastic opportunity for her but a tough loss for the district,” Boyle said. “Hers are going to be some big shoes to fill.” “I think her knowledge of both the college and K-12 systems was unique,” Leaman said. Leaman said he appreciated the way Lopes kept the district updated as she went through the interviewing process with the university. “I appreciated getting such a long notice to help the district,” Leaman said. The Western Placer Unified School District position was advertised on education job-seeking sites on the Internet and in print with EdCal and California School Business Officers a week ago. Leaman said the Western Placer Unified School District “is already” getting applicants. Advertising the position closes in mid-September. “Our goal is to have someone hired by Oct. 1, but many times, people have to give notice,” Leaman said. “We may have to have a short-term interim replacement.”