It’s a time of flux in the Berkeley schools, with the high school principal and one vice principal reassigned and another vice principal on leave from the district.
Now the Berkeley Unified School District has racked up a new loss – veteran administrative employee Frank Brunetti, 58, an Associate Superintendent, will leave the district to become superintendent of the Orinda Union School District.
Brunetti who has been an associate superintendent in Berkeley for five years, was a key player in the heated BUSD teacher contract disputes which lasted for over a year.
“He has been the board’s spokesperson for a number of years and has done an excellent job,” said Jack McLaughlin BUSD superintendent.
In Orinda, Brunetti will replace Shalee Cunningham, who is moving to Napa with her family. He will oversee four elementary schools and one middle school. The district has an enrollment of about 2,400 students, while Berkeley has over 9,500 enrollees.
The size of the Orinda district was one of its attractions, Burnetti said.
“Orinda is a small school district. I am looking forward to the close relationship with the schools on the class level. Orinda has very supportive community and a real good board.”
A number of options are being considered for Brunetti’s replacement.
“We are looking at some alternatives now, including some transitions, recruiting and possible restructuring,” McLaughlin said. There will probably be no replacement by Sept. 1, he added.
McLaughlin and the board will meet Aug. 16 and discuss how to reassign Brunetti’s duties and eventually replace him.
Brunetti reflected on his five years as associate superintendent and said among the high points was “working directly with school sites, and establishing a new teacher support system.”
He is also proud of his work with the special education department and with the Diversity Committee.
“Working with the Diversity Committee around the issues of recruiting and hiring teachers of color (and) some of my work and improvements in special education have been very gratifying,” said Brunetti.
Overall, “the high point is being in Berkeley and dealing with the people and the community. There are some very fine people here and tremendous board members.”
However, the job of associate superintendent has not always been an easy one.
“It’s the hardest, most challenging job I’ve ever had,” said Brunetti.
Still, “It’s a double edged sword. I’ve always looked at the challenges as an opportunity and framed everything with a positive view.”
Receiving undergraduate and masters degrees from the University of Nevada and his doctorate from Stanford, Brunetti has been a teacher, principal and central office administrator.
In Orinda Brunetti will earn $125,000 as a base salary, compared to his $115,000 salary as an associate superintendent in Berkeley
McLaughlin, who has been a finalist, but has not been appointed to superintendent positions in other school districts, said of Brunetti’s departure: “It’s a real pleasure for him, and a real loss to us.”