Five Hesperia elementary principals are moving to different sites in an effort to bring fresh perspectives and raise test scores.

Every year, federal No Child Left Behind benchmarks get higher, and the penalties for failure to meet ever-rising standards are steep.

"The principals that were in those positions, it's not that they're doing a bad job," said Jovy Yankaskas, the Hesperia Unified School District's Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, "but with [benchmarks] jumping as fast as they are, it's trying to catch up to a train that's in motion."

Cottonwood Elementary School principal Susan Knuth will be moving to Carmel Elementary School; Carmel principal Chris Mauger will be moving to Cottonwood; Joshua Circle Elementary School principal Lois Reaber will be moving to Mesa Grande Elementary School; Mesa Grande principal Pamela Seeger will be moving to Cypress School of the Arts; and Cypress principal Scott Sheffield will be moving to Joshua Circle.

"I'm trying to fit them into the right schools with specific needs with the right people," said Yankaskas, noting that not all of the schools were in immediate danger of running afoul of federal regulations. "It's just a different dynamic. They're coming in with new eyes. ... Sometimes schools need that."

Assistant principals at several elementary schools are also being moved to different sites.

Yankaskas has been through this process herself, both as an assistant principal, and then when she was the principal of Eucalyptus Elementary School before being moved to Mesquite Trails Elementary.

"I have the best interest for kids in mind. I am not doing anything to mess anything up," she said. "I didn't even have a chance to say good-bye to my parents at Euc' before going to Mesquite."

That won't happen this time around: Parents will be receiving letters this week from both old and new principals, discussing the changes.

"The moves are truly not punitive in any way. We are truly looking at strengths of different people and where they can do the best for students," Yankaskas said. "Everybody on the bus are the right people and now we're trying to make sure they're in the right seats."

The new principals will be in place when the 2011-2012 school year begins in August.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at Follow us on Facebook at