Superintendent Deborah Bettencourt, who has overseen tremendous growth in Folsom Cordova Unified since her appointment to the District’s top leadership post in 2010, announced Wednesday, Jan. 4 that she will retire at the end of the school year.
Bettencourt, 60, caps a 42-year career in public education, two decades of which she served in Folsom Cordova schools and supported the success of more than 20,000 students and nearly 2,000 employees across 32 schools. During her tenure, Folsom Cordova has remained one of the top-performing districts in the region with rich educational and extracurricular options for all children. She announced her retirement in a letter to all staff
“The success of our district is directly attributable to talented and caring employees, school board members committed to excellence, and supportive families and communities. It is never about one person at the helm,” Bettencourt said. “I am proud to have been allowed to serve this district, and I will cherish the friendships and professional relationships developed over the years. I will forever be Folsom Cordova’s best ambassador and biggest fan.”
The superintendent said she made the decision to retire now because she believes the school system is on the rise and will benefit from new leadership to carry the momentum. She said she looks most forward to more time with her husband, children, and seven grandchildren.
Bettencourt began her career in 1975 as a part-time teacher in the Tracy Unified School District, where she also served as director of fiscal services. She was an assistant superintendent in Roseville City Schools for a decade before joining Folsom Cordova in 1997 as Chief Financial Officer and, later, Deputy Superintendent.
The Board of Education unanimously appointed Bettencourt to the position of superintendent in 2010 amid a recession and unprecedented budget cuts. During her tenure, District enrollment grew by 51 percent - to more than 20,000 students - and Folsom Cordova built or re-opened 11 schools. The District created several new programs - including the growing International Baccalaureate Programmes at Mitchell Middle and Cordova High - and modernized every school in the District through the passage of nine bond measures.
Today, the District consistently exceeds state averages in English-language arts and math proficiency and graduation rates. Students excel in expanded STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and career-focused coursework - helping students find a pathway to success in any chosen field - and Folsom Cordova has invested more resources into new curriculum, staff training, intervention teachers, and other critical student supports.
“Superintendent Bettencourt has provided exemplary leadership and demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the success of our students, teachers, and staff. I thank her not only as a school board member, but also as a parent of two students in our schools,” said Board of Education President Zak Ford. “While we are saddened to see her leave our district, we are grateful for the opportunity to have served our community together.”
Bettencourt’s last day as superintendent will be June 30, and she will use accrued vacation time until Oct. 4. On Saturday, Jan. 7, the Board of Education will interview potential firms to assist with the search for Bettencourt’s replacement, with the goal to have a new superintendent named by the end of the school year. Once a firm is selected, public input will be sought on qualities the community is seeking in its next leader.