Is Superintendent Roberson Leaving?

Superintendent Winfred Roberson at a 2014 press conference
Superintendent Winfred Roberson at a 2014 press conference

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

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Davis Progressive

    big question here is why is he leaving?  money?  climate?  dream location?  the first several reasons are concerning – did the board discuss the possibility of offering him more to stay?  this is the problem with double-secret employee issues.

    1. wdf1

      His kids have all graduated from high school.  He’s about finished with his Ed. doctoral degree.  He can probably get paid more elsewhere, and he is probably now a more attractive candidate for other positions.  When he started, he had been principal at Davis HS only one year, and some time as vice principal elsewhere.

      Plus other reasons mentioned below.

  2. Misanthrop

    I think it would be hard to offer him more money at this point because the school board gave top administrators the same raise as the DTA got instead of waiting and deciding compensation after individual reviews of those top administrators; Roberson, Best, Bryant and Colby. Of course offering him a raise at this point might easily be explained by claiming they didn’t want to lose him but it would certainly put the school board members who voted to give the raises in a weird position.

    1. Barack Palin

      This is how we got in our current mess with public employees.  If someone doesn’t want the job here for the current compensation then by all means move on.  The whole attitude that we have to pay more, when pay is already substantial, or we might lose someone has to stop.  There are always plenty of qualified people out there and anyone can be replaced.

  3. Dave Hart

    School district superintendents of larger school districts don’t stick around very long these days.  My hunch is that if you looked at the average tenure of superintendents of school districts of comparable size to Davis, it’s about five years.  So Roberson has probably already been here longer than we could expect.  It’s about career challenge, money and all the other reasons that high paid executives move from time to time.  There’s nothing to see here, ma’am, please move along.

  4. Don Shor

    Six years is a long time to stay at a job like this in any one district. He and Davis were a good fit, but he’s probably ready for other challenges. I don’t think we should read a whole lot into this.

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