School Board Trustees Lock-in Superintendent

I’ve been trying to do my homework regarding the proposed SVUSD School Board Trustee recall and found an interesting historical reference related to contracts for SVUSD superintendents. This is old news by now, but it was publicized that Superintendent Scroggin’s contract was modified to require a “super majority” vote. This means that if the board wants to terminate Scroggin for any reason, a 4 to 1 majority vote would be required as opposed to the standard majority vote (3 to 2). Per the article I read in the Acorn:

“We take that step to delegate authority to the superintendent, but at the same time, we have not given her the district,” White said. “If the board feels like it needs to make a change in our district in all other aspects, we run with a simple majority vote. Why did we need to provide a (super majority) provision to Dr. Scroggin in her contract?”

Dan White was elected after the contract was approved and he clearly doesn’t agree with how it was modified. Trustee Collins had a different opinion:

Collins said the super majority vote was written into Scroggin’s contract to show solidarity among board members and to recognize her track record as an employee.

“We tend to work together as a board and we’ve always had unanimous agreements on our contracts,” Collins said. “We have special board meetings to discuss her performance and come up with decisions together.

“I’ve always felt it’s good to reward people who’ve done a good job and give them a bit of job security.”

Flashback to 1995 during a time when our school district was suffering from limited budgets — here’s a story about a divided school board deciding whether or not to keep a superintendent.

Board member Debbie Sandland said she refused to sign Wolford’s evaluation and is requesting a review of the process.

“I don’t feel that she has provided us with satisfactory leadership,” Sandland said. “Her priorities are clearly not in line with my priorities. Mine are with the students, and hers are what’s happening in the district office.”

But others praised Wolford for supporting the same programs her critics slam, saying they are innovative ways to stretch district funds in trying budgetary times.

Trustee Norman Walker said the superintendent should not be punished because the school board is not unified on several issues regarding the district’s future.

“I don’t think there’s a superintendent in the country that could work with this board. We are divided,” Walker said. “We need to work on ourselves. We can’t just continue to replace superintendents.”

In 1995, Superintendent Wolford’s contract was extended by a 3 to 2 majority vote. Read it all here.

I can’t help but to see the super majority clause in Scroggin’s contract as a preemptive measure to avoid what may have been anticipated as a divided board. During a time when the districts financial solvency is in question, why would you want to make it difficult to transfer authority to a new superintendent, should it be determined that it’s necessary? Are we focused on education and governing the district, or protecting our allies? I wonder what Trustee Sandland’s thoughts would have been on this topic in 1995.

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