A new chapter: Roger Rice on his career and retirement


Kaelyn Savard

While Superintendent Roger Rice’s long and illustrious career is coming to an end, the impact he has had on every individual who makes up the community of the Ventura Unified School District will never be forgotten.

On the night of May 10, 2022, Ventura Unified School District (Ventura Unified) Superintendent Roger Rice notified the Ventura Unified Board of Education of his intent to retire effective September 3, 2022.

Rice extended his announcement to all Ventura Unified families in an email sent out later that night, where he reflected on the time he’s spent working at Ventura Unified and the many challenges faced by our communities in the past few years. 

Rice has worked for 37 years in education and has served as Superintendent since March 2019. “The last few years obviously have taken a toll on all of us,” explained Rice, “I feel like it’s time to start taking a step away from the day to day grind and [be] with my family.” 

School Board President Sabrena Rodriguez stated that Rice is, “incredibly thoughtful and diligent,” and “his legacy will be one of a district that has a strong foundation upon which to now grow to that next level.”

“We are very grateful to him for having spent the last 3 years […] in Ventura Unified and helping guide us through a particularly difficult time in educational history,” explained Rodriguez.

In his time as Superintendent, Rice helped navigate and lead Ventura Unified through the COVID-19 pandemic, working to develop the framework to keep families healthy and safe. 

“Dealing with the demands of the COVID pandemic had a profound impact on me personally and professionally,” Rice stated, explaining how, “it was extremely challenging to deal with,” the heightened emotions and needs of both students and employees during such an uncertain time.

Despite these challenges, Rice enjoyed his time “visiting classrooms and watching great teachers work with their students,” as well as, “talking to the education support professionals who keep our schools running so well.”

Rice also explained how he helped “put a lot of infrastructure in place that [will] serve the district in the future very well,” such as all new websites for schools, developing and funding the Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and Traversa, which helps facilitate student transportation.

The gratifying thing to me is that when I look back on what we were able to accomplish during these incredibly challenging times, we have a lot more to say than just ‘we survived.’

— Dr. Roger Rice

After he has moved away from his role as Superintendent, Rice hopes, “that what moves forward is a rebuilding of the community.”

“I would like to see nothing but success in the future for the district,” he continued.

The School Board will have until September to find Rice’s successor. They have identified that they are looking for an internal candidate, meaning someone who is already a part of Ventura Unified. 

“We will work hard to get input from the community,” Rodriguez stated. “The most important things are to have someone who really views their role as being student-focused, and really cares about every child […] getting the best and brightest education that we can provide,” she explained. 

The School Board plans to interview candidates the week after the 2022 school year ends and the decision process will consist of three committees of staff, parents and students that will give their perspectives to the School Board, who will also interview the candidates. 

Rice emphasized the importance of “the Board and the Superintendent [working] closely together in a spirit of collaboration,” noting the necessity of “trust, confidence and support,” between both parties. “I know that the Board will work hard to find and appoint the best possible person for the position,” he stated. 

Rodriguez also expanded on the thought of a new superintendent. “Every time we choose a new superintendent, it’s really an opportunity to look for strengths that we don’t currently see in our leadership team,” she said, continuing with, “I hope that whoever we choose as the next leader would also be willing to spend the time and energy to get to know us as a community.”

The Ventura Unified community will continue to grow and thrive after Rice’s departure, keeping COVID-19 recovery and up-to-date student services as top priorities for the future.

“I have been incredibly blessed in my career and yet I know it is time to move on. I think the district is in a great place and I feel good about the direction it is heading,” Rice concluded.

What do you think?