Placer Union superintendent to retire in June

Dave Horsey and colleagues reflect on contributions, trials
By: Andrew Westrope, Staff Writer
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For 36 years, Dave Horsey has made a career of working with the public to prepare students and schools for the next big step.

Now set to retire as superintendent of Placer Union High School District on June 8, Horsey is ready to focus on his own future.

Horsey got his start in education in 1977 as a teacher at South El Monte High School in eastern Los Angeles after graduating from Long Beach State and California Polytechnic State University. He taught for 18 years before making the transition to administration as principal at San Luis Obispo High School, where he stayed for five years. In 2002, he moved to the foothills with community in mind.

“I was in a unified school district, and I had interest in looking for a high school district, and I heard good things about the one up here, and basically it was, at that time, the only district I applied for,” Horsey said.

As principal of Placer High School, Horsey said he found a supportive infrastructure that he came to rely upon once promoted to assistant superintendent in 2007 and superintendent in 2009. As superintendent, he took direction from the board to oversee policy, budget, program, personnel and other matters, especially to maintain program quality in spite of declining revenue.

Horsey said his proudest achievement as superintendent was not what he had done alone but who he had worked with, crediting the community’s strong foundation of business leaders, families and alumni with the district’s success in the face of tight budgets and declining enrollment.

“This is a district that truly builds good relationships with teachers, parents, students … and being able to work within an organization like that has just been very rewarding, and the community support has just been tremendous,” he said. “From all aspects, from athletics to curriculum to fundraising, they’ve been a good community of people to work with.”

Horsey’s own community involvement reflects a penchant for collaboration. He has contributed to multiple local projects as a member of the Auburn Rotary Club, chaired and advised the Interact Club at Placer High School and participated in the local chamber’s Leadership Auburn program.

Colleagues say this blend of teamwork and leadership served the district well.

Lynn MacDonald, president of the Placer Union High School District Board of Trustees, praised Horsey as a knowledgeable leader and a great negotiator who bolstered the morale of his colleagues during a period of deep budget cuts.

“He’s an excellent superintendent. He’s just been outstanding. He has a lot of ideas, and he follows through on a lot of ideas we’ve started … The best thing about him is he follows through and gets things done,” she said. “He was well-prepared and has a great team of people. I think that’s a real plus about Dave. His team at the district office is outstanding … He’s made that happen.”

Board Clerk Maureen Ward, who was on the board that hired Horsey as principal in 2002, said he has had a “positive influence on the district” and done well to lay the groundwork for some of the biggest challenges it faces, including the movement toward higher statewide educational standards.

“I think he’s been an outstanding superintendent to take us into the start of Common Core (state standards) here, which is going to be a real change for education, and he’s dealt with and really understood the budget issues and deficits we’ve been working under,” she said.

Horsey will retire with a final salary of $164,439, with a termination pay of $30,000 from a health reimbursement account. After June, he said, his plans are to stay in Placer County and make time for travel and hobbies with his wife.

“I’ll still stay involved with Rotary after I retire, for the community work and that type of thing, and I know that’ll involve ongoing work with students,” Horsey said. “I still love coming to work every day, it’s a great district to work for, but I’m looking forward to a different chapter and time in my life.