As a testimony to his sound leadership, Superintendent Dr. Geoff Yantz has been awarded an additional year on his contract in the South Pasadena Unified School District.
The action was taken during a Board of Education meeting at district headquarters earlier this month.
The year’s extension will keep Yantz in the SPUSD at least until June 30, 2023.
“We recently had our yearly evaluation of our superintendent and he excels in every category that we evaluated him in,” said Board of Education President Suzie Abajian. “He is an incredible liaison between the board and the district. He keeps us informed. He makes incredible building projects happen in such a short time, and so efficiently. He’s a great instructional leader. He has put together an amazing administrative team. We really appreciate everything he does for our district.”
Board Member Ruby Kalra, who has seen two of her children go through the local school system and another on its way, said she’s watched a lot of superintendents over time in the South Pasadena school district and recognizes Yantz’s presence has brought “incredibly positive” results.
During the meeting, she recognized the superintendent for his work in guiding new facilities to be constructed at city campuses, noting it looks like the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) building at South Pasadena High “has been there forever,” even though it opened earlier this year.
Kalra praised Yantz, explaining he’s keenly aware of what’s needed to make the district better, and is always prepared with information for the board to move forward on projects and classroom curriculum.
Over the past three years, Abajian said the school district has added 30 new programs in many fields under Yantz’s leadership and vision.
Michele Kipke, another board member, hopes the district can keep Yantz long after his current contract with the district ends.
“I’m so proud of this district for so many reasons,” she said. “(We rank) in the top five in terms of our test scores, but the culture that we’ve created in the schools, the critical thinking, the 21st century learning tools and strategies, the emphasis on building confidence among our kids – for so many reasons (Yantz is a great superintendent). All that is about the leadership – the leadership at the top. Everybody plays a role obviously in making all of that come together, right? But there’s the orchestra, the conductor is there to provide leadership and set the tone, so that everyone is in step.”
Making eye contact with Yantz seated on the panel at the school board meeting, Kipke continued, “Everyone is in harmony with that goal. It’s just really extraordinary how you lead this district and what you have been able to achieve in five years. And so, I want to thank you for that and I hope we have you for another five years. Can’t thank you enough for all that you do for us.”
Teachers Get a Raise
In other action by the school board, South Pasadena Teachers Association (TASP) has agreed to an on-going 1 percent salary increase.
“The certificated group added one extra work day to the 2019-2020 work year, which amounted to an additional .54 percent given to teachers (1.54 percent total),” explained Dr. Karen Reed, SPUSD assistant superintendent of human resources. “The 1 percent salary increase is effective July 1, 2019. The additional .54 percent is only for one year, 2019-2020. Per the TASP contract, the work year for teachers is 185 days. For 2019-2020 is 186 days.
An on-going 1 percent salary increase was also awarded to the district’s classified staff. “Classified employees had an optional extra workday as well, but their extra day was paid separately,” added Reed.
Certificated management, including site administrators, classified management, directors and confidential employees that are not represented by any bargaining unit, also received a 1 percent on-going salary increase. Geoff Yantz, the district’s superintendent, did not take the 1 percent salary increase.
Board member Robb Zahir commended Reed, for the work she and her staff have done to “bring a nice and quick resolution” in reaching an agreement with all the bargaining units.
Abajian added: “We are glad to be offering our employees a raise while still staying fiscally sound and responsible. Thank you for doing all the work.”
Reed was among those pleased that negotiations with district workers ended successfully. “I know all of our employees, management and teachers alike thank you so much for the raise,” she told the board.
Cabinet Members Receive Raises
After recommending four cabinet members be given one-year extensions on their contract and 1 percent salary increases, the board approved the request from Superintendent Geoff Yantz. Dr. Dennis Lefevre executive director of student support services; Christiane Gervais, assistant superintendent of instructional services; Karen Reed, assistant superintendent human resources; and Dave Lubs, the assistant superintendent of business services all were given adjustments to their contract and salary.
“Dr. Lefevre is just extraordinary,” said Kipke. “I just can’t say enough good things about him. It’s the strongest leadership we’ve had in this department since I’ve been on the board.”
Weighing in on the assessment of special needs children are a parents, many of which gave Lefevre’s department high marks.
Kalra pointed out, “Our families would agree, in light of the fact the recent special needs survey showed there was such a high degree of satisfaction among families, whose students needed services. They felt our district was really meeting those needs.”
Gervais received equally favorable comments from the board for the job she’s doing in guiding the district’s instructional services. “I just can’t thank you for all the work that you do,” said Kipke. “You have helped advance our programs, our curriculum, our innovation in so many extraordinary ways.”
Noted board member Jon Primuth, “Bringing a new curriculum is hard because you have to negotiate with people who already have vested interests…It is not easy, and there have been several innovations the last couple of years, and thank you for keeping all that moving along.”
Abajian called Gervais “an exceptional instructional leader, describing her as an “amazing administrator. You are able to work really well with our teachers and enabled them to feel empowered in the decision-making process. I really appreciate that, so thank you for all that you do.”
Reed, was acknowledged by board members for her ability to keep smiling despite the demands of the job as she was credited for performing at a high level. HR doesn’t always receive the spotlight of other departments, noted some on the board, but is highly critical to the success of the district, especially in meeting the needs of employees.
“I really appreciate the relationship you’ve developed with our bargaining units,” said Abajian. “I thinks it’s amazing that we’ve had contracts every year. We’re not behind in our contract negotiations. Thank you for all that you do.”
Kipke said Reed is “a real pro. You know exactly how to manage these relationships. It’s really quite extraordinary what you are able to do with a very small team. Thank you.”
Lubs, last to be recognized by the board, also received his share of recognition. He was praised by Primuth for “doing an incredible job keeping the numbers organized, keeping us informed with decisions…information, putting it into wonderful PowerPoint presentations and also drilling down deep into the details. He has a mastery of all of that.”
Not only is Lubs good at running the business office, explained Kipke, “but you’re such a damn nice guy. You’re such a valued member of the team, so thank you for everything.”
Lubs works long hours behind the scenes, Abajian thanking him for “running everything in our district so smoothly,” she said. “We don’t see everything that you do on a day-to-day basis, but I know the amount of work that goes into keeping the district going. So we really appreciate the work that you do.”