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Fivelstad to retire year earlier than planned

After 38 years in public education, Rod Fivelstad sounds satisfied as he talks about his accomplishments.

Fivelstad is retiring in June as superintendent of Union Hill School District in Grass Valley. He’s departing a year earlier than planned to help his wife recover from a recent stroke.

“I’m leaving a school district that is very functional, as opposed to being dysfunctional,” Fivelstad said. “There is good communication between staff members and administrators. It’s a hard-working group of people trying to help students achieve their best.



“I truly believe Union Hill School is one of the finest examples of what public education should be like in the state of California.”

Fivelstad, 60, has been the superintendent of Union Hill for the past seven years. He previously was the superintendent and principal at Manzanita Elementary School District in Gridley for two years.




The longtime educator said he was “most proud of the building project at Union Hill School – the new gym and the classrooms,” which were built during his tenure as superintendent.

Fivelstad also was happy that “Union Hill students were consistently among the highest performing students in the county in the STAR test.”

His replacement is Eric Fredrickson, principal of Union Hill School. The school district will look for a new principal to replace Fredrickson.

Fivelstad seemed aware of the challenges his successor will have to address.

“There is the challenge of the budget situation,” he said. “We are having to keep a rich program with less money than we had last year.

“We had to cut $200,000 from the budget. We laid off two teachers and reduced the amount of custodial time and instructional assistant time through retirements and resignations.”

Like most school districts, Union Hill is plagued by declining enrollment.

“We will probably have fewer students next year than this year,” he said. “The incoming kindergarten class is smaller than the eighth grade class.”

Fivelstad also is concerned that cutbacks in the state budget will eliminate special programs that help under-performing students.

A peaceful life ahead

After retirement, Fivelstad’s main priority will be to help his wife recover from the stroke she had in April, he said.

“We will do some traveling,” he said. “I’ll be active with the Rotary Club of Grass Valley.

“We’ll continue working with Habitat for Humanity, where I’ve been on the board. I also sing with the Grass Valley Male Voice Choir. I’m active with the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Grass Valley.”

Fivelstad also will pursue his hobbies of astronomy and reading, he said.

“I have a telescope,” he said. “I go out at night and look at the stars.”

Fivelstad is chair of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council. He has represented school district superintendents from across the county at the Resource Council for the past six years.

Born in Los Angeles, Fivelstad received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He received his teaching credential from San Jose State University and a master’s degree in human resources and organization development from the University of San Francisco.

“It’s been an absolutely wonderful way to complete my career in public education,” he said, referring to his tenure at Union Hill.

To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail ssen@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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