Stockton, CA / Bilingual Weekly
Colleen Boardman, the newly elected President of the Stockton Unified School Board, surprised everyone this past Monday, February 14, 2011, giving up not only her presidency, but her elected post completely.
In the letter (see below) Boardman says she did learn a lot, met some wonderful and dedicated people, but that the job has worn her out and that she has neglected her family. She also complained about being faced with the dark side of the business, “I never knew how much politics and back room deals were a part of this business,” she wrote in the e-mail/letter sent to her fellow trustees and SUSD Superintendent Carl Toliver, “It saddens me that everyone really isn’t in it ‘for the kids’”
She noted “ I feel like I am living on a different planet than some people” when she suggested that Toliver —who makes almost $400,000 plus benefits when you combine his retirement with his current salary— should consider a pay cut like anyone else in the district, and was told the item was not to be discussed. SUSD is facing an estimated $25M deficit for the next fiscal year.
Finally, Boardman discounted the fact her personal life might be in dire straits. She did not answer phone calls to her home for comment but in a Facebook message to her friends, she mentioned that “(husband) Tom & I are filing bankruptcy and dealing with the bank regarding foreclosure. (This) all create stress but one had nothing to do with the other (resigning the board)”
Boardman, a retired supervising investigator with San Joaquin County Human Services Agency, had been elected to the Board on November 2008, surpassing two other candidates vying to represent SUSD’s Area 4. On September 22, 2009, it was her who turned the tables for then-Superintendent Anthony Amato —who had survived months of calls for his removal— on a flimsy 3-4 majority on the Board.
Stockton Teachers’ Association president Ellen Old had only one way to describe her reaction to Boardman’s sudden resignation: “I was incredulous!” Like most observers, she did not see any signs of this happening.
“I am certainly disappointed,” said David Varela, vice-president and, for now, acting-President of the Board, “she was an asset to this board, I saw her as a clear thinking person.”
“I did not speak to her (Boardman) much,” said fellow trustee Gloria Allen, “it surprised me as anyone else… we all have personal problems, but I don’t let them take over and wear me down”
SUSD Superintendent Carl Toliver was more matter of fact. “She elected to leave but (the way the system is set) the district will continue to operate,” he said, “business will go as usual.”
Regarding Boardman’s comment on Toliver’s salary, Old was emphatic, “he earned whatever he takes home (as his retirement package) regardless of what he does now” Allen remembered that the two immediately prior District’s superintendents —Amato as well as interim superintendent Steve Vacsovsky— were paid $260,000 a year to do the job, whereas Toliver agreed he would take a 15 percent reduction when he started, “we cannot mix the two things… what he got for his retirement is his, he earned it, we pay him for a job he does after he already retired.”
SUSD Vice President David Varela is —for the time being— the acting-President. (see related note in this site)This is the full e-mail Colleen Boardman sent to her fellow trustees and SUSD Superintendent Carl Toliver on the morning of Monday. February 14, 2011
Sal, Gloria, Jose, Steve, Sara, David, and Carl,
After many weeks of agonizing consideration, I have decided to resign from the school board. This decision did not come easily. I have neglected myself and my family for the last 26 months. While I did not expect this job to be easy, I did not expect it to take over my life.
In the last two years I have met some of the greatest people that have dedicated their lives to helping children become the best that they can be. They have inspired me and helped me persevere. I will treasure those relationships forever. They have been the high points of my tenure.
I have also experienced some absolute lows. When I proposed that a former superintendent be terminated, I was criticized for not having done it sooner. I have been falsely accused more times than I can count of collaborating with other trustees on votes and being part of a bloc. When I proposed that the board take a 10% pay cut because of the fiscal crisis we are facing, I was accused by a union leader of negotiating and suggesting that they do the same. I have been lied to by fellow trustees. When I suggested to the superintendent (whose combined retirement from SUSD and salary from SUSD is just shy of $400,000 plus benefits) that he might start thinking about taking a pay cut because it was more than likely that all staff would be taking cuts and that it would be the right thing to do, he said that his starting salary was a pay cut and we would just have to “agree to disagree on that”. I sometimes feel like I am living on a different planet than some people.
I don’t think that I am a very naïve person, but I never knew how much politics and back room deals were a part of this business. It saddens me that everyone really isn’t in it “for the kids”.
The fight has worn me down. I need to take care of myself and my family or I will be no good to anyone. I wish you all the best.