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Lodi Unified superintendent to retire after 15-year tenure

Cathy Nichols-Washer, the longest-serving superintendent among California’s largest school districts, announced Tuesday she plans to retire at the end of next school year.

Nichols-Washer has worked in education for 37 years, the last 15 as chief of Lodi Unified, a 28,000-student district in the Central Valley that encompasses Lodi, northern Stockton and surrounding rural areas. Prior to joining Lodi, Nichols-Washer was superintendent and a classroom teacher at nearby Manteca Unified.

“It is a privilege and honor to serve in this leadership position and I am grateful to have worked with so many wonderful people who care deeply about the children in Lodi Unified,” Nichols-Washer said. “With the health pandemic situation improving, I think it is a good time for a new leader to start.”

In Lodi, Nichols-Washer is credited with increasing student achievement, expanding career and technical education, bolstering counseling services and other improvements.

“We have been incredibly fortunate to have Dr. Washer at the helm for almost 15 years. It is uncommon for a superintendent to be this dedicated and invested long-term in a community, its students, and its staff,” said Lodi Unified’s board president, Sue Macfarlane. “She has left an indelible mark on our district and our entire Board and community are appreciative of her years of service.”

Nichols-Washer is also among the highest-paid superintendents in California. In March, the board voted to raise her salary to $291,000 as part of her updated contract, her second raise in less than a year. The teachers union protested the raise, saying the district needed to boost salaries for teachers and other staff before hiking pay for administrators.