The San Bernardino City Unified School District Board of Trustees choice of Dale Marsden to serve as superintendent will fill a gap in the 54,000-student district in the county seat that has existed since Arturo Delgado departed there to become the superintendent of Los Angeles County Schools a year ago. At the same time, Marsden’s departure from the Victor Elementary School District in the High Desert leaves that district in the lurch.
Depending on your perspective, Marsden was either groomed to become the leader of Victor Elementary School District or he was merely ticket punching during his tenure there.
After serving in the U.S. Air Force for four years and securing his bachelor’s degree, Marsden briefly taught at the experimental Orange County Department of Outdoor Science School and then taught school for six years, going to school at night to earn his doctorate in education from Pepperdine University. He used that degree to move into a temporary teacher-in- charge position, meaning he filled in as principal during the actual principal’s absences.
He departed from classroom teaching assignments permanently when he hired on with the Victor Elementary School District as director of quality and development. In 2007 he was promoted to the position of deputy superintendent and was hired as superintendent the following year.
Marsden was well thought of in that school district and the community at large. He was credited with improvements in student test scores on state administered academic tests despite more than 70 percent of the households in the district qualifying as economically challenged by federal standards. He transformed one of the district’s campuses into a leadership academy that maintained its emphasis on math and reading while simultaneously imparting business and governmental leadership skills to its pupils.
Marsden held a leadership role among the Victor Valley’s superintendents in the county’s Alliance for Education, which is a division of the county schools’ higher education and workforce development program. And he was a member in good standing of the Victorville Chamber of Commerce, having been elected vice president of that organization. He had been chosen to be president of the chamber of commerce in the upcoming year, but had not assumed that position when he was selected by San Bernardino City Unified as the new superintendent.
To many in the Victor Valley and especially within the Victor Elementary School District, Marsden was seen as something of a High Desert institution. Almost universally, it was perceived that the district had invested in him and the advancement of his educational administrative career in the anticipation that he would remain with the district for at least another decade and a half to guide it through the challenges it continues to face.
While no one expressed doubts about his capabilities, many in the High Desert and the Victor Elementary District, which now must undertake a search and recruiting drive for a new superintendent, consider Marsden’s departure from the 18-school Victor Elementary District to the 44 elementary school, ten middle school, seven high school and three special education school San Bernardino City Unified School District to be a betrayal.