When Lillian Maldonado French announced in mid-November she will be retiring at the end of the calendar year as Superintendent of Mountain View School District in El Monte, it was clear there would be big shoes to fill.
Not only had French been at the helm for 12 1/2 years, she helped guide the district during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as through the closure of four of the district’s 12 schools ahead of this school year because of declining enrollment.
The district this week announced that Raymond Andry has been selected as the new Superintendent. He has been with the district for 12 years, the past seven of which he has served as Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services.
His appointment was unanimously approved by the Board of Education on Tuesday, Dec. 14.
“Over the past 12 years, Mountain View has become a second home for me, and ensuring we provide the best for everyone we serve is my long-term goal,” Andry said, in a statement. He has over 25 years in education.
“One of my main areas of focus for the coming year is to spend time listening to our school community as we plan for the future of the District,” said. Anry, 48. “This will include speaking directly to our students to fully consider their ideas and perspectives as we move forward.”
French said her family needs her, that’s why she’s retiring at the end of the calendar year instead of at the end of the school year in June.
“Since my dad passed away in July, I’ve had increasing family responsibilities that have been hard to balance,” said French, who said staying until June was not an option under her circumstances.
Jacqueline Saldaña, board president, spoke in glowing terms of Andry.
“At times, Mr. Andry has stepped in — if even for a short time — for Dr. French with the board, a very unusual opportunity because of Dr. French’s commitment to her responsibilities,” Saldaña said. “Mr. Andry understands the culture within the district and the board, and has had the opportunity to be present, collaborate and hear first-hand from the board our intentions and goals.
“The board is excited to collaborate with and serve alongside Mr. Andry.”
During a Thursday afternoon telephone conversation, Andry spoke about his predecessor.
“I’ve had great admiration for Lillian since I first started in the district,” he said. “She hired me first as the principal at Kranz Intermediate School, so I especially respect the decision for why she’s choosing to retire now. I know how important family is.”
He could not hide his excitement about his new position.
“I’m thrilled, just to be honest,” he said. “I’ve come to love this district over the past 12 1/2 years and I couldn’t think of a better place I’d want to be. The people, the students, the community is wonderful.”
Andry was asked about his most immediate issues in the district.
“We do have a lot of work to do in terms of the closed schools,” he said. “But I think taking a step back building a clear focus of taking care of the health and welfare of students and staff through the end of the school year … it’s so unpredictable, the pandemic, right now.
“Continuing to keep them safe and healthy is going to have to be the number one priority. Beyond that, the physical safety, I think just their socioemotional health and wellness has to be a priority.”
The district has six schools in El Monte, two in South El Monte.