The school board met in closed session yesterday, Sunday, January 24, at 8 am to discuss the Superintendent’s performance evaluation. The Vanguard was told by Board President Madhavi Sunder that there was no additional information to report following the meeting.
Performance evaluations are considered personnel matters which are confidential by law.
However, the impetus for that meeting is that the district and school board was notified by Superintendent Winfred Roberson that he “has been named the preferred candidate for the superintendent position in a professional search by a school district in a different region,” Ms. Sunder told the Vanguard on Saturday.
She stressed, “No final decisions have been made.”
Madhavi Sunder stated, “Over the last six years, our school district has advanced under Winfred Roberson’s leadership.”
The school board hired Winfred Roberson as Superintendent in June 2010 following the abrupt departure of previous Superintendent James Hammond, hired just three years prior. Mr. Roberson had no previous experience as Superintendent and had been hired to be principal at Davis High School just the year before, after serving as principal previously in another district.
Under Superintendent Roberson, we have seen the district transition from the emergency funding days of the great recession to more stable funding under an improving economy.
Last week, the district announced that it will receive $3 million in funding under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), plus a one-time fund from Proposition 98. DJUSD has been disadvantaged under the LCFF, which puts much of its resources into an under-served population.
DJUSD under Winfred Roberson’s leadership passed additional parcel taxes and renewals in 2011, and twice in 2012. Last week, Mr. Roberson’s Associate Superintendent Bruce Colby noted that Davis is an “average-funded district,” despite the $530 that most homeowners pay in parcel taxes. The average school district receives $9200 per year in per-pupil funding, and Davis receives just under that at $9170. Without the parcel tax, the per-pupil funding level would drop to $7,922, they said.
The last two years have been punctuated with controversy. In 2014, a dispute over the handling of a volleyball coach’s VSA (Variable Services Agreement) and that volleyball coach’s treatment of a student-athlete exploded with a controversy that ultimately led to the resignation of school board member Nancy Peterson. Adding to the controversy was Ms. Peterson’s daughter, who was central to the dispute with the coach, the conflict of interest in Ms. Peterson’s intervention, and the district’s $22,000 legal expenditure on an investigation.
Ms. Peterson would be replaced by Alan Fernandes in May 2014 and, by November, it was an entirely new school board with the exception of holdover Susan Lovenburg
Meanwhile, last year, it was a policy dispute over the GATE program that captured parents’ and community attention. The Superintendent ultimately gained some consensus over a compromise that will phase in major changes to the size and qualifications of the long-standing but controversial program.
It is unclear if this marks the end of the era, what the timeline is for a decision, and how the board would proceed in a search. In 2007, following the retirement of long-serving Superintendent David Murphy, the board conducted an extensive search which led to young Superintendent James Hammond.
Three years later, it was a quick internal search that led the board to elevate Winfred Roberson to Superintendent.
—David M. Greenwald reporting