The Cambrian

Following ‘no confidence’ vote, Coast Unified superintendent to resign

Vicki Schumacher, superintendent of Coast Unified School District, gives a presentation on the district’s finances and proposed budget cuts Jan. 11.
Vicki Schumacher, superintendent of Coast Unified School District, gives a presentation on the district’s finances and proposed budget cuts Jan. 11. sprovost@thetribunenews.com

Coast Unified School District Superintendent Vicki Schumacher will resign from her post she announced in a board of trustees meeting Tuesday night, Oct. 2, after a tumultuous past few months for the district.

She said she would “pass the torch to new leadership” on Jan. 2, 2019, though her official last day will not be until June 30, 2019, as she takes medical leave for her last six months with the district; Schumacher, who was hired in May 2014, has accumulated more than 232 days of unused sick leave.

The board unanimously voted to accept the terms of the resignation in closed session. Schumacher’s contract had been set to run through June 30, 2021.

Her resignation comes in the wake of a “no confidence” vote in her leadership delivered by nearly all the district’s teachers over the summer. The district made a number of teacher cuts and reassignments this spring.

Schumacher was close to tears as she read a prepared statement at the close of the meeting, saying she plans to “embrace the many opportunities that await me in retirement. I’m excited to publish my first book, which I am currently writing with a friend.”

The decision to allow Schumacher to retire superseded the need to complete or reveal the details of the board’s evaluation of her performance, the board said, something they’d been wrangling with for months amid fierce opposition to her from outspoken staff members, teachers and parents.

Some of those people spoke passionately about their concerns Sept. 6 prior to another of the board’s closed sessions on the topic. They told of their dissatisfaction with Schumacher’s management style, leadership ability and other factors that they felt made her the wrong superintendent for Coast.

In June, 97 percent of Coast Unified teachers delivered a vote of “no confidence” in Schumacher’s “ability to lead this district as superintendent.”

In that vote, 38 teachers agreed with that statement, one disagreed and three abstained.

Nearly 50 people showed up for the Tuesday meeting, which has been rescheduled from its originally scheduled time Thursday, and announcement of the results of the board’s negotiations. Many audience members stayed throughout the nearly one hour that the board was sequestered in another building. Again, the audience included community members, parents, district staff members, teachers and a few students.

While the trustees finalized the agreement and voted, most of the audience members remained in the room. The room was quiet and the atmosphere respectful after the announcement. None of the other board members spoke.

As audience members left, some said they were grateful to the board for the decision, as it would allow the financially challenged district to move in a better direction and concentrate on what’s best for the students.

With the decision, the school district became the third Cambria agency in less than three weeks to announce that it would be seeking a new leader.

The last day on the job for Cambria Community Services District’s former general manager Jerry Gruber was Sept. 27, after he and the district board inked a hard-fought separation agreement on Sept. 13. And Bob Sayers has retired voluntarily as the much-lauded administrator of the Cambria Community Healthcare District; his final day on that job was Sept. 25.

Schumacher will receive a lump sum severance equal to her current gross monthly salary for three months, minus all required taxes and deductions. That replaces an 18-month buyout clause in her current contract.

According to Transparent California, Schumacher’s total annual pay and benefits in 2015 were approximately $255,976, including $6,915.64 in “other pay.” In 2016, her salary and benefits dropped to about $236,871, but statistics for other pay were not provided to the website.

After the meeting, Board President Samuel Shalhoub said he didn’t “have an exact dollar value (for the severance payment) at this moment, but that information may be available at a future date.”

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