Shoreline super resigns

04/23/2015

Current Superintendent Tom Stubbs announced his resignation from Shoreline Unified School District late Wednesday afternoon, ending months of speculation over whether or not the district would renew his contract. 

“After serious consideration, I have concluded that my decision is in the best interest of the district, myself and my family,” he wrote in an email to staff. He declined requests from the Light for an interview.

Mr. Stubbs’s decision comes on the heels of last week’s monthly meeting, during which the district’s Board of Trustees decided to table the agenda item that would have called for a discussion on his contract. Since December, the board has skirted addressing the issue before the public.

His position was the subject of controversy last summer, when the board elected not to renew his contract but relented after mounting protests from the Shoreline community. His current one-year contract—which stipulates a $125,956 salary—ends on June 30.

Board president Jill Manning-Sartori could not be reached for comment. Jane Healy, the board’s former president, declined to comment on confidential personnel matters. She added, “He’s in the driver’s seat, and he knows how to work the emotions of our district. Let’s let him stand up and take leadership.”

Though Mr. Stubbs’s contract was not discussed last week, the board did vote to offer one-year contract renewals to the current part-time interim principals of Tomales Elementary and Bodega Bay Schools, a decision that extends the timetable for filling the gap left after the former principal of both schools, Jane Realon, vacated the posts last year.

Jim Patterson of Tomales Elementary told the Light that he has agreed to helm the school’s head position for the 2015-16 school year. He will be contracted to work 70.12 days, and his compensation cannot exceed much more than $40,000 due to California teachers’ retirement rules.

Nancy Wolf of Bodega Bay, meanwhile, has not decided whether she will stay on for another year. Her contract would limit her to 76 half-days total, with a salary capped at just under $19,000. She expects to give her decision within the month.

“It was a vote of confidence from the board,” said Ms. Wolf, who has worked off and on with the district since 1986 and stepped in as Bodega Bay’s principal last November. 

Ms. Wolf and Mr. Patterson emerged from retirement to lead West Marin’s northernmost public elementary schools after Ms. Realon’s exit. Since that time, trustees, administrators and parents have been discussing what the future of the principal positions for these two schools should be. 

Some, such as Ms. Manning-Sartori and trustee Tim Kehoe, have suggested that the district should search for a qualified candidate to take up a dual role of principal-superintendent. Others, including a group composed of the Family Engagement Committee, the T.E.S. Site Council and the T.E.S. English Learner Advisory Committee—have opposed this solution, instead stressing the need for one full-time principal to manage both schools.

“[We] unanimously concur that it is not the right time to have a superintendent-principal at our site,” the group told the board last week. “We strongly support one full-time principal of Tomales Elementary School and Bodega Bay School.”

Ms. Healy cautioned the group that the decision to hire a full-time principal—at a full-time salary—could force the district to consider cuts elsewhere in the budget. 

“You’re being very clear, and I understand you’re saying you want a full-time principal at your site,” she told the room of around 30 people. “But you have to understand that that would be the choice you make with the funds [currently available]. You can’t have all that and have all the other things. You, as a school community, have to look at, ‘What am I willing to give up?’”

Both sides, however, appear to agree that any efforts to hire new principals for next year would be jumping the gun. Many, including parent Ernesto Orozco, argued that a full-time principal would be more inclined to stay with the district in the long term, and would invest more time and energy into improving services.

Budget update

 

Last month, the board approved the second interim budget as drafted by the district’s new business manager, Bruce Abbott. Though the budget received a positive approval, the Marin County Department of Education cautioned Shoreline that much work is needed to correct the district’s structural deficit.

“We still have in our budget a structural deficit that’s going to be a problem three, four, five, six years down the road if we don’t address it,” said trustee Jim Lino, who met with county officials soon after the second interim budget was approved.

In his presentation before the board, Mr. Abbott gave his report on the district’s cafeteria budget, which this year is costing $250,000, all of which comes out of the general fund. Mr. Abbott’s report showed that the district’s cafeteria costs are up 900 percent since 2003-04, with much of the spike arising from labor costs and expensive food purchases. He estimated that 45 percent of the budget’s projected 2017 deficit—at $615,000 in the red—is due to “cafeteria encroachments.”

“It is simply too much for this district to bear, I believe,” Mr. Abbott said. He reassured that the cafeteria budget’s costs could be reeled in, but that “it would take a while to fix.”

Ms. Sartori, who heads the district’s Wellness Committee, expressed frustration with the report, given that the district has taken strides in recent years to offer higher-quality, organic food for students. She did agree, however, that changes to the cafeteria program would have to be made.

“We’re going to have to make some hard decisions about how we prioritize wellness in this district,” she said. “It does cost us money, but it’s an educational component just like [other
departments].”

In a move that may bring more revenue into the district, the board elected to adopt a district of choice designation, which would attach state dollars to inter-district transfers admitted to Shoreline. Though the designation handcuffs the district from refusing admittance to most inter-district transfer students, Shoreline would have received $225,000 in additional revenue from the state this year if it had been a district of choice, Mr. Abbott said at February’s board meeting.

The interim budget includes a proposed retirement incentives package for classified staff—maintenance, transportation and administrative jobs. Should the package receive enough signees by May 1, the district will repeat a similar cost-cutting move that occurred in February, when enough certified teachers signed onto a retirement package that prevented layoffs of Shoreline’s most recent hires.