HANFORD — Monday night, a group of around 30 people gathered at a home in Hanford and listened to Lemoore High School Principal Rodney Brumit announce that he is running for Kings County Office of Education superintendent of schools.
“This is a service job. We’re here to serve the community, serve the kids and that’s what we’re going to get back to,” Brumit said. “Four years from now, you’re going to see a huge change.”
Tim Bowers, who was elected as superintendent in 2010 and reelected in 2014, announced Tuesday that he is not running for a third term and is in fact retiring at the end of June.
Brumit said the role of the county office of education is to support all the districts from pre-kindergarten to high school. While the county superintendent is not in charge of the individual school district superintendents, Brumit said the county office is the pipeline to the state.
The biggest reason Brumit said he is running is to change the mindset at the office to be more service-oriented.
“For anybody who wants to get into public office — it’s not about a title, it’s not about a position — it’s about serving your community and serving the kids,” Brumit said.
If he’s elected, Brumit said he will train all county employees on their roles in their departments and make sure they have access to funding and know how to use that funding.
Once the foundation is in place, Brumit said he would like the county office of education to start creating innovative programs. He said once upon a time, Kings County was on the forefront when it came to internet access; since then, however, the county has not been cutting edge.
Brumit said he would also like to create a curriculum that teaches students to be resilient and cope with the complex emotional issues they are experiencing. He said when teen pregnancy was a problem, school districts started teaching more sex education; but that is not the biggest problem anymore with things like teen depression and suicide.
“There’s so many things that happen on the internet, so many things that happen on their phones that we have to create a curriculum that teaches the kids how their mind works and how the physiological part of their brain develops,” Brumit said.
Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson said he has known Brumit for a long time, ever since Robinson was running the Kings County Gang Task Force unit and he and Brumit worked together on a grant to help students get out of the gang lifestyle.
“That was a very positive environment and a very positive thing that we got to work together on that really helped a lot of kids in Lemoore,” Robinson said. “Through that relationship and through our friendship we’ve really just bonded over the years and I think he’ll do an amazing job as superintendent of schools.”
Robinson, who has experience with the elections process as sheriff, said he’s willing to help Brumit in any way on this endeavor. Robinson is seeking reelection for a third term and will also be on the same June 5 ballot as Brumit.
Bobby Peters, director of educational services at Hanford Joint Union High School District, said he has known Brumit since they were younger, but supports him for this position because he knows Brumit is the best person for the job.
“He’s been an administrator in the county and he understands our students, he understands our culture and he understands our climate,” Peters said. “I think that it would be really beneficial for our county to have someone like Rodney who understands the complexities of where we are.”
Brumit started his administrative career in 1998 as the dean of students at Coalinga High School, was promoted to assistant principal one year later and was also the Coalinga Huron district school attendance review board director for two years. He was the assistant principal at Lemoore High School for five years before becoming principal in 2008.
Mike Robinson, a member of the Kings County board of education, was another Brumit supporter at the meeting. He said he has served on several local boards, including hospital and elementary school boards, and said education and healthcare are critical issues in Kings County.
With Bowers exit, Mike Robinson said he believes Brumit is the “right guy at the right time” and can tell that he’s motivated to make a change at the office of education.
“It’s encouraging to see an enthusiastic person that wants this job,” Mike Robinson said. “He wants this job to make a change and he wants to improve education. He has committed to me that he’s going to do that and he has convinced me that he’s going to do that.”
Brumit said his decision to run for superintendent was not made on a whim, and wanted people to know that he is very serious, committed and ready to work.
“This is going be what you can expect from me as the next superintendent of schools from Kings County: Somebody who is willing to put in the effort to make the phone call and to meet with all of the different constituents to do a good job,” Brumit told the room of about 30 people.
Brumit said he loves his job as a principal because of the students and the people he works with, but thinks it’s time for him to step up and support all the students in the county.
“I really feel I’m the person that can make a difference,” Brumit said. “They need somebody there that builds morale, that builds a sense of purpose and that builds a sense of community.”
Next for Brumit is collecting the requisite 3,000 signatures and fundraising before the election.