School board member Shelia Jackson said today that she is dropping out of the race for county supervisor, but brushed off rumors that she would also leave her current post at San Diego Unified.

Jackson, who recently served as the president of the board, was slated to be in the running against at least one other Democratic contender, state Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, and possibly City Councilwoman Donna Frye, in a bid to unseat longtime incumbent Ron Roberts, a Republican.

Representing some of the poorest areas of San Diego Unified, Jackson was often a dissenting voice on the board until her reelection in 2008, which ushered in a new board majority backed by labor unions that tapped her as its president. Her exit from the supervisors’ race was long rumored, but Jackson had not confirmed those rumors until today.

However, Jackson denied another set of rumors — that she might leave the school board entirely for financial reasons. If Jackson left, it could leave the political balance of the board up in the air.

Jackson, a military retiree who works as a substitute teacher in other school districts, has sometimes criticized the low salary that comes with serving on the school board — $1,500 per month — for a job that is supposed to be part time but often spans days, nights and weekends. She said it makes the job unavailable to working class people.

Gloria Cooper, a church leader with the nonprofit San Diego Organizing Project, said Jackson had talked about quitting the board because “she needed a real income,” but hadn’t decided whether or not to leave the board before the winter holidays. Her words echoed another school district source who declined to be identified, who believed that Jackson had already decided to leave.

Jackson, who is out of town this week, said of her rumored departure, “Don’t believe all that you hear. That’s not true.” She would stay on the school board for her entire term. But she added that the paycheck is still a problem “for anyone that wants to be an independent voice.”


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