Hesperia Unified School District Interim Superintendent Mark McKinney is "excited" about the state of the district, according to a letter he sent to employees last week.

The interim head of the High Desert's largest employer sent out the letter on December 14.

"It has been my honor to serve in the capacity of interim superintendent these last three months," the letter reads in part. McKinney was appointed interim superintendent after HUSD Superintendent Hank Richardson was placed on administrative leave in July.

"I am continually amazed at the caliber of people, at all levels, that we have working in the district. Equally impressive is the constant commitment to do what is best for kids. Working together, we truly can make a difference, as evidenced by the following partial list of accomplishments:

* Held a Medicare election to benefit approximately 70 employees
* Provided an early retirement benefit to all eligible employees
* Opened our third middle school - Cedar Middle
* Began our second continuation high school - Canyon Ridge
* Broke ground on our third comprehensive high school - Oak Hills
* Are in the process of completing construction on Mission Crest Elementary
* Completed construction on the annex behind the AESC (Administration and Educational Support Center)
* Settled contract negotiations with CSEA, and brought Unit "B" proctors into the classified unit
* Settled salary and benefits with HTA, and making good progress on contract language
* Joshua Circle Elementary School named a "Title 1 Academic Achievement" School
* Mesquite Trails recognized by the California Business for Educational Excellence Foundation/Just for the Kids (an award based strictly on demographic and test score data)
* Sultana High's one-year increase in their API (31 pts) was unmatched by any other high school in San Bernardino County.

"These are just a few of the significant achievements that have helped to maintain and build Hesperia Unified's excellent reputation. While it is important for us to remember past accomplishments, I am excited about what the future holds and would also ask each of us to look forward."

The HUSD has a total of 2,172 employees.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.