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I am constantly surprised that so few of the people involved in picking a superintendent for an existing vacancy for the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) and who live within its boundaries, its community members, the district’s bargaining units, its administration, the Administrators Association of San Diego (AASD), etc., don’t remember past SDUSD’s efforts to fill superintendent vacancies. And, the district’s Board of Education is certainly displaying “memory problems” in this regard. I suppose it is easy to justify one’s choices for the selection process to fit what a board at a particular point in time wants, but it would do the board members well, and especially the “search committee” to remember its history.
Bill Kowba, interim superintendent, is eminently qualified to fill the job. Some have said Superintendent Kowba does not have the appropriate background in education for a superintendent’s position. Have they forgotten how that was not an important reason when Mr. Bersin was hired to replace the outgoing superintendent years ago? The board and its search committee decided that Mr. Bersin possessed sufficient other qualities and abilities to lead SDUSD, that Mr. Bersin had the necessary leadership skills based on his vast past experiences that would qualify him for the job. And, so, Mr. Bersin, without background experience in education and in running a school district, was hired to lead the district.
Bill Kowba has more than the necessary experience, skills, and abilities needed to fill the position. He has demonstrated his superior financial abilities time and again, and Bill Kowba’s work history/background makes it obvious that he possesses the skills and leadership abilities to handle the job. But, more importantly, Bill Kowba is a special kind of man these days — even a rare kind of man. He is a man of integrity and honesty, does what he knows is the correct thing to do to in all matters and especially in solving budget problems no matter how painful that process may be, and he has a moral compass that guides him. When difficult decisions were made by him as head of finance in the district, Bill Kowba approached it in the best way possible. Kowba carefully considered input from a wide variety of sources. He then did what he could do in his position, some things that had to be done, including informing his staff of layoffs, possible demotions, etc., in a timely and humane fashion. He was fair and cared about those working for and with him. Bill Kowba’s input to the board earlier on should have been more carefully listened to and implemented.
The district has a severe budget crisis. Bill Kowba has the skills, knowledge, and ability to solve its problems without politics getting in the way. His brilliant abilities in finance, his excellent leadership skills and ability to find the best possible solutions to major problems facing the district need to be recognized by the district. Mr. Kowba should be the number one choice for the superintendent position at this critical point in time. Do not waste thousands and thousands of dollars in a job search. Kowba can do the job superbly. Put politics aside and be farseeing. This time, bow to Mr. Kowba’s financial expertise. Pay close attention to what he has to say. He knows what he is doing. Prepare Mr. Kowba’s contract today.
Alex Youngs is the Retired Operations Specialist at San Diego Unified School District