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Schools

Board names longtime educator as new principal of Santa Rita

The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees announced the selection of a new principal for Santa Rita Elementary School last week, ending over two months of interviews and deliberation.

Stephen Peck, a Los Altos resident and longtime educator, will replace Principal Charlene Luks, who was promoted earlier this year to director of pupil services for the Los Altos School District.

Peck is currently the assistant superintendent for curriculum in the Los Gatos School District, a position he has held for 12 years. Prior to that, he was the principal of Redwood Intermediate School and Saratoga Elementary school, both in Saratoga. His daughter, Laura, attended Los Altos schools.

"We are tremendously lucky to be getting Steve," said Los Altos Superintendent Marge Gratiot. "He is one of the most respected administrators in the county, and I am delighted that he is joining our team."

The Board of Trustees chose Peck from more than 50 applicants in a four-step selection process, Gratiot said. A committee of administrators screened the applications and chose eight candidates for interviews.

A community panel including parents, teachers and other staff members interviewed the eight candidates and chose three for further interviews.

The three finalists each had two more interviews, one with district administrators and the other with the Board of Trustees. Peck was the unanimous favorite in both groups.

Board member Gerri Carlton said the board liked Peck's "child-centeredness" and varied background

"His background gives him a different perspective than others," she said. "Working in a district office helps you understand finances, personnel and the limitations and possibilities of what can be done."

Gratiot said Peck's "thoughtfulness, experience, creativity and ability to express how strongly he believes in elementary education" made him the right candidate for the job.

Peck is looking forward to working as a principal once again. He says he misses the daily contact with students and teachers.

"Santa Rita looks and feels like home to me," Peck said. "It retains the hallmark of a community school. It's near town and has great support from the community and parents."

Peck is expected to start work at Santa Rita early next month.

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