FMHS Principal to Leave To Start New Charter High School

By Patric Hedlund

Frazier Mountain High School’s energetic young principal, Anthony Saba, 36 has accepted the offer to construct a new charter school for foster children, to build it “from the ground up” in Santa Ana, CA.

He announced to the FMHS staff on Wednesday, May 30 that he had accepted a unique offer from Orangewood Children’s Foundation to be the founding principal of “The Academy,” including hiring teachers and coordinating final construction. The board of trustees of the new school visited FMHS on Wednesday also. “The Academy targets foster children who are at risk for not graduating from high school,” Saba said in an interview. He said he is enthusiastic about his year at FMHS.

“This school is heading in the right direction and will continue to head in the right direction,” he said in answer to questions that were raised about his reasons for leaving.

Saba said he explained to teachers in his discussion with them Wednesday that the commute off the mountain to his home in Bakersfield was a major factor in causing his family to make a decision to move. He said they had decided to move to the Mountain Communities, “or to the beach” if the opportunity arose.

“I told my staff I can’t continue driving an hour each way. The [cost of] gas was high and the commute was killing my family time. My wife and I decided to either move up here or move to the beach. I just can’t keep doing this commute.”

Residents—parents and business owners—have expressed concern about the school district’s allocation of about $500,000 in local property tax-based resources to personnel whose paychecks are being spent in Bakersfield stores and restaurants.

The superintendent and the director of maintenance, operations and transportation (MOT) have both been given district vehicles and have their gas paid for by the community.

Meanwhile, parents have contacted The Mountain Enterprise with concern that the elementary and middle school principal is said to not yet have a contract, delaying her plan to relocate here.

Saba sought to reassure parents: “The heartbeat of this school is the students and the teachers—and they are doing a great job,” Saba said emphatically.

“I am really sorry to see him go. It is a blow,” said a mother of an FMHS student, who added that students and families, “felt he was really a good guy, and really on our side.”

Saba emailed a statement to The Mountain Enterprise:

“It is with compunction that I have accepted a principalship to open a new high school down south. This year has been very productive and Frazier Mountain is absolutely headed in the right direction. Its dedicated staff and hard working student body are second to none. The future is bright and Falcon Pride will continue to grow within this community.

See you tomorrow night at the Falcon Extravaganza!”

This is part of the June 01, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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