Thompson to be moved to LGHS, balancing administrator-to-student ratios between schools

May 29, 2019 — by Alekhya Vadlakonda and Christine Zhang

Superintendent Mike Grove announced to district staff through an email on May 10 that assistant principal Brian Thompson will be moved to Los Gatos High School for the next school year.

According to the email, the primary reason for the Thompson’s relocation is to even out the student-to-administrator ratio at the two schools. Both schools currently have one principal and three assistant principals. But since LGHS has around 2,100 students while SHS has roughly 1,350, the ratio is 712 students to one administrator at LGHS and 448 to one at SHS.

The district will fill Thompson’s spot at SHS with a new part-time, 0.4 assistant principal. With two and a half assistant principals at SHS and four at LGHS, the students per administrator ratio at SHS will be 560 to one while the ratio at LGHS will be 534 to one. The average ratio in Silicon Valley area high schools is 549 to one, according to Grove.

In addition to balancing the student-to-administrator ratio, principal Paul Robinson said that LGHS was looking for a particular skill set in their new assistant principal and that Thompson filled that skill set “big time.”

Robinson noted that Thompson, who has been at Saratoga High since 2015, was previously the principal at Branham High School in San Jose.

“He’s got a very detailed way of working through problems and making sure that things are documented really well,” Robinson said. “He has a great way of connecting with a wide variety of students, so I think that’s part of the reason why he’s the one being moved.”

Robinson also said that there was some consideration given to the fact that assistant principals Brian Safine and Kerry Mohnike have been at the school longer than Thompson. Safine was hired in 2003 and Mohnike was hired as an English teacher in 1991 and became an assistant principal in 2012.

Robinson said he feels bad for the school’s incoming principal Greg Louie because Louie was looking forward to working with Thompson.

“That would have been a really good connection for him, but now he’s got to find somebody new to bring to the team,” he said. “There’s going to be some changes, but we’ll find a way to make it work.”

Rather than changing school processes to accommodate the fewer hands, Robinson said that responsibilities will shift since they will essentially be missing half a staff member.

“We’re already working with a number of people within the office who might need to pick up different responsibilities than what they’re doing right now,” he said. “I don’t think much is going to change in terms of how things are done because you can’t just all of a sudden not do something at a high school.”

The administration has done applicant interviews over the course of this week. Robinson said that they will most likely hire someone who will spend half their time teaching classes and the other half working as part of the administration. Although Robinson acknowledges that it will be a “weird dynamic,” he said that it is what they have and they will make the best of it.

Even though Robinson wishes the decision was made earlier in the year, he knows that the district was busy gathering data about administrative teams and high school systems around the area.

Robinson said that the administrative staff feels regretful about Thompson’s relocation.

“We’re all very sad about the idea of Mr. Thompson leaving because he’s been great to work with,” he said. “I think LGHS is going to be even stronger now with his leadership moving there, but I don’t like the fact that we’ve got such a big hole to fill.”

Athletic director Tim Lugo also conveyed his sadness at Thompson’s departure. He has worked closely with Thompson since 1998, when they coached together at Pioneer High School in San Jose.

“His knowledge of Education Code laws and processes, facilities planning, consistent handling of discipline and his support of the athletic department makes him special,” Lugo said. “Los Gatos is getting one of the best administrators I've ever worked for, and he will be missed here.”

Despite this, Robinson said the new administrative team will continue to provide strong leadership.

“I have every confidence in Mr. Louie, Ms. Mohnike and Mr. Safine that whoever is selected as a part of this is going to be a great part of our Falcon family,” Robinson said.