Superintendent Robert Gaskill will be retiring from the in July after a unanimous vote Thursday from the CUSD Governing Board.
After 40 years of service in education, Gaskill discussed his letter of intention to retire to the board with bittersweet conversation.
“If I have any regret, nearly all of my four and a half years here has been to keep the ship afloat,” Gaskill said. “It’s much more fun to sail the ship.”
Gaskill said he realized that he is not leaving the district in the most stable of times, but compared to two years prior they are in a much more sound position.
“It’s been an honor to work with you all,” he said.
The board agreed that Gaskill had become superintendent at a time when severe financial difficulties hit the district.
“You were the right type of superintendent we needed at the right time,” said board member John Moseley. “You’ve been a real steady rock.”
Board President Kirk Riemer said that of the superintendents he has worked with or encountered, Gaskill was the most successful and most openly communicative in times of uncertainty.
“You’ve gotten us through some incredible financial times,” Riemer said. “I almost apologize we couldn’t be in better financial times during your reign.”
Gaskill said he is excited to start a new phase in his life.
“Every step I have been through has been an adventure,” he said.
The board continued to discuss strategies to easing the district’s structural budget deficit.
With an $800,000 ongoing structural deficit, the board has considered various strategies including increasing K-3 class sizes, eliminating counselor positions and cutting funds for athletic programs.
Additionally, as Governor Jerry Brown’s , CUSD will lose $300,000-$400,00, according to Gaskill.
The board has several opinions, sometimes contrasting, regarding how to create revenue and determine budget savings.
Riemer said that a parcel tax is an equitable strategy while Moseley questioned the configuration of the district.
“I know there’s efficiencies we’re not exercising,” Moseley said. “I’m a little slow to come to the public for more when we haven’t done our homework.”
But Gaskill advised the board that the state of the governor’s proposal would not really be known until June.
“Keep your options open as long as you can in an unknown situation,” he said.
The superintendent was specifically referring to the March deadline to notify school employees that they may be receiving pink slips that year. If the deadline passes without any action, there is no longer the option of district layoffs, Gaskill said.
In his first years of teaching, Gaskill said he received a pink slip notice.
“It’s a gut-wrenching thing,” he said. “But keep your options open.”
If pink slips do come into the equation, Gaskill said, the public might ignite an innovative interest in the district's financial pinch.
Principal Mary Streshly said HMBHS is one of the CUSD schools looking at their specific sites to find budget savings.
But when discussions include teachers, Streshly said, the dialogue in the school often becomes stagnant.
“My site is very, very sensitive,” she said. “They literally have to point to each other.”
The board will continue their conversation of strategies for addressing the structural budget deficit with much more intricate detail in the report, Gaskill said.
“You are the protectors of the district budget,” he said.
The next CUSD Governing Board meeting is scheduled for February 9 at 7 p.m. in the District Office.