Just two years after an intense search for a new superintendent, the Old Adobe Union School District will start the process all over following the sudden resignation of Cynthia Pilar who left the district to pursue her doctorate degree in education. Her last day was Monday.

"When Cindy resigned, the board was saddened by her departure, but understands her desire to pursue this prestigious opportunity," the Old Adobe Board of Trustees said in a prepared statement.

Kim Harper, principal at Miwok Valley Elementary School, has been appointed interim superintendent. "We are fortunate that Kim — who is deeply familiar with our people, programs and goals — will be able to maintain the district's course while the board takes sufficient time to develop a collaborative process inclusive of staff and parents toward (finding) long-term leadership of OAUSD," the statement said.

Old Adobe School Board president Cecilie Stuelpe said the board is convinced that the momentum built during Pilar's two years on the board will continue. "We are feeling optimistic about our future," she said. "Cindy put us in an amazing place. We are sad to see her leave, but she had an opportunity to pursue a life-long dream in a really prestigious program."

Stuelpe said the board learned of Pilar's impending departure at the end of the school year and began making contingency plans. "Fortunately, Kim Harper was willing to help us move forward," she said. "We have every confidence that with Kim in place, the momentum will continue."

She said Harper's appointment is interim, and that a search will begin for a new permanent superintendent. "We will develop a process that will include staff and parents. It will be similar to the process we used to hire Cindy," she explained.

Pilar became Old Adobe School District Superintendent in July 2011 and led the district to significant changes, helping pass a $26 million bond measure for facilities and technology programs upgrades. She also oversaw the conversion of three schools in the district to charter schools and re-established the closed Bernard Eldredge School as Loma Vista Immersion Academy. Loma Vista is scheduled to open this fall.

"One of Cindy's best accomplishments was to hire an amazing administrative staff," said Stuelpe.

Harper has been principal at Miwok Valley Elementary School for 13 years. She has been recognized as the Sonoma County Principal of the Year, and under her direction, Miwok Valley achieved Distinguished School status. She led the establishment of the successful Dual Immersion Program at Miwok Valley that moves this fall to the new Loma Vista School. She has been the district Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Coordinator for the past 10 years, providing assistance for new district teachers, and for the last six years, she has served as the district curriculum director.

Stuelpe said Harper will leave Miwok Valley to assume the superintendent's position. "One of her first tasks will be to figure out what to do with the Miwok principal's position," Stuelpe said.

The Old Adobe Union School District is the Petaluma area's second-largest school district with more than 1,600 students in five schools — La Tercera Elementary School, Miwok Valley Elementary School, Old Adobe Elementary School, Sonoma Mountain Elementary School and, opening this fall, Loma Vista Immersion Academy.

(Contact John Jackson at johnie.jackson@ar guscourier.com)