MORAGA — Bruce Burns has spent 14 years in Moraga as an elementary and middle school principal, but as he assumes the district's top job, he knows he'll now see things through a different lens.

"Despite working at two schools here, I need to learn the culture of the district from a superintendent's vantage point," said Burns, who took over for former superintendent Rick Schafer on July 1.

From there, the view is decidedly mixed. Burns takes over a district that was forced to spend $600,000 out of its reserves and make program cuts to balance its budget.

But at the same time, those cuts would have been much worse had parents clubs not stepped in to make additional donations.

"The community has a strong interest in the success of its schools, and as a result we have a lot of support and we are able to provide a lot of different kinds of opportunities for students," Burns said.

Not surprisingly, the new superintendent said the biggest challenge facing the district is the fiscal crisis.

Burns said Schafer did an amazing job keeping the district "more than afloat," but added that state budget cuts will impact the district for years.

A committee will begin this fall looking at the district's budget and potential ways to increase revenue, including an additional parcel tax.

The district will also being looking at a multiyear strategic plan aimed at providing a quality all-around education for students, according to Burns.

"Instead of just looking at the mathematics, the English, the writing (and) the grammar, the ultimate goal is having an impact on the whole child in preparing them to be constructive members of our society."

Before becoming superintendent, Burns spent three years as the principal at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School and 11 years as the principal at Los Perales Elementary School. His two children currently attend Joaquin Moraga.

The San Francisco native and Pleasant Hill resident has also been an assistant principal and a teacher in the Stockton school district.

Though taking on new responsibilities as superintendent, Burns said his history with the district — his first kindergartners at Los Perales graduated from high school last year — will be an advantage.

"People know me and I know them," he said. "For many people in this community I've known the family since their kids were in kindergarten, and many beforehand."

Contact Jonathan Morales at 925-943-8048. Read the Lamorinda Sun blog at www.ibabuzz.com/lamorindasun.