Rocklin schools chief to retire

By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Placer Herald and Press Tribune editor
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Awards & Recognitions

Kevin Brown’s honors throughout his career include:

• Butte County Teacher of the Year

• California Vocational Education State Administrator of the Year

• California School Administrators Excellence Award

• Placer County Administrator of the Year

• Association of California School Administrators (Region 2) Superintendent of the Year

• California Interscholastic Federation Hall of Fame

Rocklin Unified School District Superintendent Kevin Brown has announced that he will retire at this end of this school year, marking the end of 38 years as an educator and administrator.

Brown said the timing of his retirement was based in large part on the fate of Proposition 30. Had it failed, he said, he would have stayed on for another year to help the district through what would have been a serious fiscal crisis, cutting $5 million out of the budget. But the proposition passed, leaving the district fiscally solvent.

“A new person coming on board will have a couple of years to understand the community, learn the district, not have to be overly burdened or taxed with financial challenges, reducing programs or laying staff off,” Brown said.

“It saddens me,” Brown said of his pending retirement. “I wish I had 38 more years to give to education. I’ve loved every day of it. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning, what motivates me, continually rejuvenates me. I love my job. I love this community, I obviously love this school district very dearly, and there will be a big void in my life starting June 30, not getting up every morning and coming into the Rocklin Unified School District.”

“Kevin has been an outstanding leader,” said Rocklin High School Principal David Bills. “He has been a rock for our district. … I’m excited for him and his retirement. He has certainly earned it.”

Brown said he decided around eighth grade that he wanted to be a teacher and coach, as athletics, he said, have had a profound impact on his life. After graduating from Rio Vista High School, he entered the University of Nevada, Reno, on a basketball scholarship before being drafted into the Army and serving a year in Vietnam. Upon his return, he studied at CSU Chico, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.

Throughout his career, Brown has taught and coached at the middle school, high school and community college level. He taught math, social studies and business education, and his first administrator job was as vice principal of Oroville High School. He spent 10 years as principal of Woodland High School and three years as director of secondary education in Folsom Cordova. He moved to Rocklin 17 years ago, spending his first three years as deputy superintendent for educational services before accepting the position of superintendent.

Rocklin was a good fit, Brown said, because the city was growing rapidly, and his experience overseeing the design, development and construction of Folsom High School sparked in him a passion for facilities development.

“I foresaw the opportunity to basically help shape and mold and build an entire school district,” he said.

And so he did, with what he described as exceptional cooperation among the schools, city and residents of Rocklin. When he got here there were six schools and fewer than 5,000 students – today RUSD boasts 16 schools and more than 11,000 students. Brown oversaw the completion of Rocklin High School, modernization of two elementary schools and the build-out of Spring View Middle School, along with the district passing two general obligation bonds and creating a Mello-Roos district to fund schools in the Whitney Ranch development area.

“This community just really came together back in those days and decided that we wanted to build the ideal place for families to come and raise children and live, and the school district was going to be a critical component of that,” Brown said. “And we were able to form partnerships and work collaboratively and share resources, and between the city mapping out its growth plan side by side with the district, I think we put together a pretty good little city.”

Todd Lowell, an RUSD board member for 10 years, said he has observed Brown perform “a professional and masterful job at managing the Rubik’s Cube of the multiple and competing responsibilities of a superintendent in a growing community with high expectations for ever-increasing student achievement.”

Lowell praised Brown for including programs to serve all students, skillfully managing the district’s financial resources and personnel and delivering $150 million in new construction.

“He is clearly respected by his peers,” Lowell added, “and he is an outstanding district ambassador and community leader.”

Brown takes pride in the academic success of RUSD students – the district has a high California Academic Performance Index score of 891, and ranks in the top 10 percent of all school districts in California. Again, Brown attributes the success to the spirit of family in the schools and community.

Mia Swenson, Brown's executive assistant for three years, said she has a tremendous amount of respect for him.


"He spends an inordinate amount of time, energy and effort analyzing the district’s financial solvency, assisting site/district administrators, fielding media inquiries and working with parents," she said. "He knows every single employee of the district (at least by name!) and his administrative staff is like family to him.  I am in awe of the 'heavy' decisions that he is faced with on a daily basis and the way in which he handles them. He never loses sight of what is best for the families and the staff. He is a personal inspiration to me and I honored that he chose me to serve as his secretary."

Brown said he looks forward to spending more time with his children and watching his four grandchildren study and play sports in RUSD. He’ll also do some traveling and explore the possibility of working part-time as an education consultant, along with doing more volunteer work in the city.

The RUSD board has put out a request for proposals to search firms throughout the state to lead the search for a replacement. The board will interview several of those firms at a Jan. 9 meeting and is expected to hire a search consulting firm at the Jan. 16 meeting.

“I just would really like to thank this community for giving me the opportunity to serve their children,” Brown said. “It has been extremely rewarding, humbling and meaningful. Together we’ve done better. As long as this community and our families and our school district and our city all continue to collaborate and work together, there’s no end to what we can accomplish. No end to what we can do for our kids.”