County schools' superintendent announces retirement
Will not seek re-election when term ends in December 2014
SAN BERNARDINO • San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Gary Thomas announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election and is retiring at the end of his current term in December 2014.
Thomas began his first full term as superintendent in January 2011, according to a news release from the County Superintendent of Schools’ office. Thomas spent the prior two years filling out the term of former County Superintendent Herbert Fischer after being appointed to the position by the County Board of Education in August 2008.
“This has been a difficult decision to come by, especially because of all the outstanding support I have received from county schools’ staff during my tenure,” Thomas said in a written statement. “It has been a privilege to work with all of you to serve students, families and educators throughout the county. You are the most committed group of professionals I have ever worked with, and I have been honored to serve as your county superintendent.”
Reducing countywide dropout rates has been a priority for the organization during Thomas’ administration, according to the release. The countywide dropout rate was 13.4 percent for 2011-12 (the most recently reported data), down from 26.3 percent when Thomas took office.
County Schools purchased a new administrative facility under Thomas’ leadership in 2011. The 52,000-square-foot building at 760 Brier Drive in San Bernardino houses business services and human resources staff. The Roy C. Hill Education Center, which includes the superintendent’s office, education support services and student services, is currently undergoing modernization. Once the project is complete in November, SBCSS will no longer lease administrative facilities — a long-term cost-cutting goal for Thomas.
Thomas’ tenure was also marred by consecutive years of statewide budget cuts to public education — $20 billion over the course of four years, the release states. Due to the passage of Proposition 30, the 2013-14 state budget marked the first in several years where K-12 public schools did not see drastic cuts or cash deferrals. While some districts still face fiscal challenges, county schools’ budget is stable and the organization is providing leadership to districts with the new Local Control Funding Formula.
“It’s been important for me to see the office through these challenging fiscal times and work toward a structure to sustain the organization moving into the future,” he said. “I believe we have achieved that. I could not be more proud of the accomplishments of county office staff, our district administrators, teachers and support staff.”
The county superintendent is the chief executive officer of the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools office, which has an annual operating budget of $215 million. The office oversees more than 2,000 employees and provides support to 33 school districts for grades K-12 and roughly 414,000 students attending more than 540 schools in the county, according to the release.
The filing period for candidates to the position will be Feb. 10 to March 7, according to Michael Scarpello, director of the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters.
For more information, visit www.sbcss.k12.ca.us.
Brooke Self may be reached at 750-951-6232 or BSelf@VVDailyPress.com. You may also find her on Twitter at @BrookeSelf.