Board Gets First Look at New Superintendent

John Bowes
John Bowes

By Nicholas von Wettberg

With their summer break over it was back to business for the Davis Joint Unified School District school board, which met Thursday night at the Community Chambers.

All five trustees were present – as was Dr. John Bowes – the district’s new superintendent who, after a month on the job, finally got the chance to be part of official meeting procedure.

During his announcements, Dr. Bowes said that he was excited to be attending his first meeting, he welcomed the DJUSD governance team, and he thanked the community members in attendance.

The first piece of news he passed on to the board was that 57 percent of district students had re-enrolled for the upcoming school year, which begins on August 24.

“The online re-enrollment has been very smooth and well-received and the help desk has been very busy helping families,” Bowes said. “We’re in the midst of four online re-enrollment ‘Help With ENTs,’ where families can come and have access to computers and Internet so they can re-enroll online.”

He added that hands-on support in Spanish is available for families at these sessions, and that the final one would be held inside the Marguerite Montgomery Elementary Library, from 6-8 pm on Tuesday, August 16.

One point emphasized was that parents must “complete the online re-enrollment for each child, each year prior to receiving schedules or teacher assignments.”

In a non-related issue, according to Bowes, the Department of Education has corresponded a request for information from the Office of Civil Rights, regarding the district’s controversial AIM program.

“We routinely comply with such requests for information from regulators and we’ll certainly comply with the law and are committed to offering equitable access to all of our programs,” he said.

Bowes stated that, in the past year and a quarter, the district has carefully examined the program, what its qualifiers are, and adjusted accordingly, making revisions to what he called “processes and procedures.”

“We have been remaining transparent in doing this and our assessment of these programs continues and we plan to present further refinements to the board, later in 2016, and we look forward to any comments that the Department of Education has for us on that.”

When asked what his first month has been like, Bowes’ reply was that he has been “busy,” with the school year rapidly approaching and a two-day administrative leadership team retreat planned for next week.

Already showing signs that he will fit right in, Bowes said he is on a quest to interview 100 people in his first 100 days, with each person asked only four specific questions.

“The first is what’s something great going on with the Davis Joint Unified School District? The second is what’s something that could stand a second look? The third is what’s something new you’d like to see us try? And the fourth is imagine five years from now and you’re picking up the newspaper, logging online to read the newspaper what’s the dream headline you would envision for the school district?”

About a quarter of the way through, Bowes said he’s received a handful of contributions from online interviews. To participate, send answers to

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 18.


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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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10 thoughts on “Board Gets First Look at New Superintendent”

  1. SODA

    Could you give more details about the Board of Education’s letter regarding AIM? Is this routine? Is this the first time? Is it concerning to our Board? Thanks.

    1. Marina Kalugin

      well duh, Missy, of course they should have….and of course, instead of banning private testing, the board should have authorized the payment for it for all who wanted it….jeez…save a buck and cause lawsuits…wow….truly ….didn’t those incumbents see that coming???

      the then superintendent did…lucky for him…and for me…he got a new job just days before I was starting a recall campaign….lucky for me, since I really didn’t have time and just got to keep my mouth shut  (not easy) …while the new town was “inspecting” him….he he…

  2. Misanthrop

    I’m speculating and my speculation is that they changed the criteria in a way that excluded minority students. Whether or not this was intentional it was the outcome. I’m not sure what the remedy will be or if OCR will ask for one. What I do know is that having OCR come into your district is something you probably don’t want to have happen. It will take up staff time and distract from what the district would rather be doing and might even be embarrassing for the district.

  3. Tia Will


    What I do know is that having OCR come into your district is something you probably don’t want to have happen. It will take up staff time and distract from what the district would rather be doing and might even be embarrassing for the district.”

    I don’t see this in quite such a negative light. We have seen seemingly endless squabbling back and forth and a fair amount of angry and vitriolic comments about the AIM program from both supporters and detractors. Perhaps a look with fresh eyes from outside is in the best interest of the students at this time. While it will most certainly be distracting from what the district would rather be doing, and might even be embarrassing, I would say that these are very, very small concern when compared with providing a program that is truly in the best interests of all of our students.

    1. Don Shor

      The problem is that this process is not “a look with fresh eyes” as to the overall benefits or drawbacks of the program. I assume OCR is solely concerned with the demographic outcome and how the board got there. It will occupy a lot of staff time. It will also likely delay any board action that would improve the program.

  4. Marina Kalugin

    I will be encouraging the OCR to go back to the 80s to show how the more stringent the criteria, the less diverse the GATE program became..

    now that should really keep the district busy for a while.edit

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