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Significant management changes afoot in Piedmont schools

PIEDMONT — The departure of three key administrators in the Piedmont Unified School District has created a perfect storm and a complete district reorganization.
Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Song Chin-Bendib is leaving to take up the same post at Pacific Grove Unified School District in Pacific Grove. Chin-Bendib served the district for four years and will be replaced by Ruth Alahydoian, who will have the new title of chief financial officer. Alahydoian previously worked for KNN Public Finance and gave presentations to the board regarding the handling of school bonds.
Song Chin-Bendib is leaving her post with the Piedmont Unified School District. (courtesy of Song Chin-Bendib) 
“We are delighted that Ruth can join us. She will be great,” Superintendent Randy Booker said Tuesday. “This shift provides the district with the opportunity to provide more depth and focus on our financial systems to navigate the worsening fiscal crisis,” Booker said, adding, “I’m appreciative of the systems (that Chin-Bendib) introduced and the keen oversight of our budget operations.”
Julie Valdez, the director of special education and principal previously at Beach Elementary, is taking a yearlong leave of absence, having been with the district for 11 years. The district will post and hire a new director of special education, a position that will continue providing leadership over all special education programs, as well as the Wellness Center and district nursing.
Julie Valdez, the director of special education and principal previously at Beach Elementary, is taking a yearlong leave of absence, having been with the district for 11 years. (Dean Coppola/staff archives) 
“(Julie) has been been an integral member of the administrative team, providing extensive insight into the needs of elementary students. She will be hard to replace,” Booker said. He explained that if or when Valdez returns, “we will cross that bridge when we get to it.”
The district will restore the position of assistant superintendent for educational services, a position eliminated in 2015 due to budget constraints. Booker said 30 people have applied for the position. The district expects to announce the new hires for special education and assistant superintendent at its June 13 meeting.
The district is considering eliminating the position of director of curriculum and instruction that is now held by Cheryl Wozniak, who was previously principal at Havens Elementary.
“We don’t need two assistant superintendents in this economic climate,” Booker said.
Michael Brady, known for wearing Hawaiian shirts on the job, is retiring after 15 years serving the Piedmont Unified School District in a variety of roles. (Dan Honda/staff archives) 
Booker attributed the change to meeting “rising expectations, to more affirmatively address student wellness and social justice and to provide more differentiated programming. The director of curriculum has borne much of this work, although this is beyond the scope of the position.”
Booker learned about Valdez and Chin-Bendib over spring break. Lastly, Michael Brady is retiring after 15 years serving a variety of roles. He served as Millennium High principal, adult education director, H1 bond program manager and director of facilities, among other roles.
“He will be dearly missed. His focus on students and the overall operations of the district is unparalleled,” Booker said.
Brady’s multifaceted duties will be absorbed by Booker and Director of Facilities Pete Palmer. The reorganizational changes are cost-neutral, Booker said.

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