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Sanchez takes over Vallecitos School District superintendent position

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Meliton Sanchez is the new Vallecitos School District superintendent, and he has also taken over as the district's chief business officer and the nominal principal of Vallecitos Elementary School.

"Glad to be here. I think we have a really solid team," Sanchez said.

Sanchez also expressed his pleasure with the Vallecitos Elementary School students.

"They're just a great wonderful student body," he said. "I think there's a lot to work with."

Paul Cartas was the Vallecitos School District superintendent and Vallecitos Elementary School principal for 21 years before he retired in 2011. David Jones was selected to replace Cartas and was the superintendent and principal until 2017, when he was hired as the superintendent of the Bonsall Unified School District. Gary Wilson, who with the San Pasqual Union School District had been the superintendent and principal in a one-school district, was the interim superintendent and principal with the Vallecitos district until Maritza Koeppen was hired and joined the Vallecitos district in January 2018.

Koeppen served until Aug. 5, 2022, when she resigned her Vallecitos position to become the assistant superintendent of human resources for the National School District which educates elementary school students in National City and Lincoln Acres. Wilson returned as the interim superintendent and principal, and Ramon Leyba became the interim superintendent and principal Oct. 11. Leyba's interim status allowed Sanchez to wind up his Palo Verde Unified School District activities and join the Vallecitos district Dec. 1.

Sanchez was born and raised in Blythe and attended Palo Verde Valley High School. He attended Palo Verde College in Blythe, which is a two-year college. Sanchez transferred to the University of California, San Diego and received a bachelor's degree in history. He undertook graduate studies at San Diego State University and received both a master's degree in international business administration and a single-subject teaching credential.

He returned to Blythe.

"Most of my years were spent there," Sanchez said.

In 2001, Sanchez began his teaching career at an elementary school in Ehrenberg, Arizona, across the state line from Blythe. He joined the Palo Verde Unified School District in 2002 and taught history and other social studies classes primarily to eighth graders. His administration debut was in 2009, and he eventually became a continuation school and alternative education program principal as well as a middle school vice principal.

From 2015 to 2017, Sanchez was the vice principal of an elementary school in the Brawley Elementary School District.

"I had no elementary under my belt," he said.

Sanchez believes that his Brawley interaction with younger elementary school students will help him in his Vallecitos Elementary School role. Vallecitos educates students from transitional kindergarten through eighth grade.

"That's where I really got to know the four-year-olds and five-year-olds," he said. "It gave me some insight on how to be successful with the younger kids."

After two years in Brawley, Sanchez returned to the Palo Verde Unified School District as the district's chief business officer. He held that position for a little over five years.

"Most of my career was spent at the school site. I found that I kind of missed that. My role as CBO is kind of adult-centered," he said.

A website called posts education jobs throughout the United States. Sanchez was looking at the site after Koeppen announced her resignation.

"Stumbled across Vallecitos and I started just reading the job description," Sanchez said. "It described me to a T."

Linda Miller was the Vallecitos School District business manager before she retired Aug. 31. The Vallecitos position combined the superintendent position with the chief business officer role. It thus utilizes Sanchez's business expertise and also incorporates his desire to be on campus.

"This job gives me the best of both worlds," he said. "I love doing the business. I also like the interaction I get with the kids."

Sanchez and his family already had a weekend home in San Diego; they had been living in Blythe during the week and San Diego on weekends. Now they will live in San Diego during the week and in Blythe on weekends.

"It just made the transition much easier," he said.

The commute from the Loma Portal area of San Diego to Rainbow is approximately 45 minutes, but Sanchez will be traveling north during the mornings and south during the evenings.

"The traffic flows in my favor," he said.

Although Sanchez will be nominally the Vallecitos Elementary School principal, assistant principal Michelle Peace will handle many of the administrative duties at the school.

"It's been a great run so far," Sanchez said. "I'm here to serve, happy to serve."

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at [email protected].


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