By Terry Koehne
Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata announced today that she will not run for a second term in 2018. Sakata, who was elected to her first four-year term in June 2014, has decided to retire when her term ends in January 2019.
“It is one of the great honors of my life to be associated with the Contra Costa County Office of Education, and particularly serving as county superintendent,” said Sakata. “The 174,000+ public school students and 18 school districts in Contra Costa County are better served because of the amazing programs and services our agency provides. I have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with some of the most amazing staff members and forward-thinking educators in the entire state.”
Sakata has worked in education for 41 years. She has worked as a Speech Language Pathologist, Resource Specialist-Auditory Processing, Early Childhood Specialist, Program Specialist, Research Assistant, Program Administrator, Elementary Principal, and Associate Superintendent of Student Programs and Deputy Superintendent of Human Resources. Prior to her tenure with CCCOE, she worked for Santa Clara and Solano County Offices of Education and the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.
“Karen is an amazing, yet very humble educational leader,” said Mike Maxwell, President of the Contra Costa County Board of Education. “She is and continues to be an incredible mentor for me during my tenure as an elected Board member. She is patient, kind, and always puts her focus and attention on students. I know we will continue to work together collaboratively during the remainder of her term.”
Sakata is actively involved in many state and local organizations. She serves on the Fiscal Advisory Committee for the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA), the Region 6 Board of Directors for the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), the ACSA State Board of Directors, the Contra Costa County Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA), the Advisory Council for the Assistance League of Diablo Valley, and the Board of Directors for East Bay Leadership Council. In 2017, she was honored with the ACSA Region 6 Presidential Award.
As she enters her third school year as county superintendent, Sakata expressed pride in some of the recent initiatives and accomplishments of the County Office of Education. “The programs and support we provide for students with disabilities and students who are incarcerated or expelled from their school districts is beyond amazing,” she said. “I am particularly proud of some of our recent initiatives like our Attendance Awareness Campaign and the ‘All Kids are Our Kids’ Post-Election Toolkit, that provide schools and educators in our community with tangible resources with which to tackle some very complex, yet critical issues. But our work is not finished. This year, I look forward to working collaboratively with our school districts on a new equity initiative that will focus on issues of culture and diversity. I am extremely proud of this agency and am excited to continue to work on behalf of the students of Contra Costa County until a new superintendent is elected.”