Scott Schalde is Morro Bay High School’s new principal.
Morro Bay High School has a new principal who is excited with his new challenge and happy to be making a homecoming of sorts.
Scott Schalde introduced himself to the students and parents in a letter included in the school’s March 26 online newsletter. “Morro Bay High School,” he said, “and the community it serves, are very special to me. I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve as the school’s principal next year! I look forward to future opportunities to meet the families and students of our wonderful community.”
Schalde said he’s been a public educator for 26 years and has taught at various schools and in grades 7-12. “At the middle school level,” he said, “I taught 7th-8th grade history, 7/8 English, 7/8 P.E., 7/8 AVID and several elective courses.”
He taught at Morro Bay High, too. “I felt blessed to teach at MBHS for 6 years [2005-2011],” he said. “I taught World History, U.S. History, American Government, A.P. American Government, Economics, ASB, AVID and Peer Helping.”
He’s been in administration at a couple of different posts within the San Luis Coastal Unified School District. “As a school administrator,” he said, “I have served as an assistant principal at San Luis Obispo High School and Laguna Middle School. I truly love public education and I am excited to come back to MBHS!”
He’s got a simple goal. “It is my goal, my passion,” he said, “to lead our staff in making Morro Bay High School a great school. From the start, the central focus will be a simple, specific and unyielding core value — we are about kids.”
The priority, Schalde said, is clear. “If ever the question is asked, what comes first at Morro Bay High School, the answer is clear. It is the relationships we create and cultivate with our students.
“At MBHS,” he continued, “we care about students and we cherish our relationships with them at the highest level. This is what comes first. Knowing and caring for our students is the best foundation for helping them become their best selves.”
He credited interim Principal, Jeff Cadwallader, who took over for the former Principal, Dr. Kyle Pruitt, who quietly resigned sometime last year while school was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic response. Dr. Pruitt is slated to take a teaching position within the district.
“Mr. Cadwallader continues to be amazing,” Schalde said, “regardless of trying circumstances. His leadership as interim principal this year has been invaluable.”
Why Pruitt stepped down, has not been announced. However, Pruitt did get caught up in the troubles of former auto shop teacher, James Bueno, who it was discovered (and reported in news accounts), allegedly committed some irregular accounting with regards to the student’s auto shop club, including allegedly giving a donated Volkswagen, which was repaired by the students, to his own mother.
Bueno, who was also the volleyball coach, later paid some $2,000 for the VW, with the money going into the auto shop club’s account. He also resigned.
In a Tribune news account, he claimed to have been given the responsibility without any training on how to keep the club’s books and never thought he’d done anything wrong.
Bueno was largely responsible for resurrecting the school’s once-vaunted auto shop program. Dr. Pruitt, in the same story, allegedly was lackadaisical with oversight of Bueno’s actions.
The school district turned the matter over to the Morro Bay Police Department for investigation. MBPD Cmdr. Amy Watkins recently said they were still investigating the matter but would turn over the results to the District Attorney’s Office, should they recommend prosecution.
Reached by phone, Schalde complimented his predecessor. “I’ve known Kyle a long time,” he told Estero Bay News. “He did a really great job.” He especially complimented Dr. Pruitt for steering the school through a series of major construction projects (still ongoing) and for hiring some amazing teachers. “It was a Herculean task and he did wonders.”
He acknowledged the troubles the school has seen over the past several months, including allegations of sexual misconduct by teacher and coach, Tyler Andree with two female students that hit the news in late January. “My goal is to be very forward looking,” Schalde said.
Schalde and Cadwallader and the rest of the administration will start work on plans for the next school year. Though he doesn’t officially take over until July 1, Schalde said he and the administrators will be meeting regularly and working on plans for next year, when it is hoped students will be back full time.
He marvels at how the students at MBHS respond when you give them a little encouragement, something he saw repeatedly when he was teaching there. He also plans to work more closely with the administration at Los Osos Middle School to try and smooth the transition from middle school to the big, scary, high school, which some students must feel.
It’s hoped that by when school starts next year, it’ll be a normal year. School has been anything but normal since late March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic struck, and the Governor ordered schools closed and everyone but “essential workers” to stay at home.
The initial campaign to slow the spread of the virus closed most private businesses, laying off tens of millions of people nationwide, and schools began so-called “distance learning,” in essence taking classes over the Internet, which led to many students’ grades to slip.
“The pandemic has thrown everything off,” Schalde said.
All Spring 2020 sports were canceled, along with the Fall 2020 and indoor Winter 2020-21 sports.
On this past March 15, the school district reopened MBHS partially, with so-called “hybrid” learning.
In March, the school was also able to offer some fall sports teams — football, tennis, cross country — with abbreviated seasons. Spring sports should go on normally but the indoor winter sports — basketball, wrestling — won’t compete at all.
Schalde said he wants to set up community forums this spring, “to ensure we hear and know the thoughts and perspectives of all of you. Again, I look forward to future opportunities to meet the families and students of our wonderful community.”
“You’ve got to be positive,” Schalde said, “be visible and show that you really care.”
He also wants to work closer with the local media and make sure there “are more good news items in the newspaper than bad news.”