By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
Sue McCann could tell you about every nickel and dime of the Garden Grove Unified School District.
A GGUSD staple since 1980, McCann is the assistant superintendent of business services which means she knows and directs where the money goes.
It goes to books,
buildings, classrooms, teachers, programs, technology, pays for supplies, food and so much more.
At the end of this year, McCann will be retiring from the district and her post will be filled by Rick Nakano, also a GGUSD veteran and someone McCann feels more than confident in.
While it has been a long road trying to balance budgets and pushing the pennies around, McCann is happy for it.
“You’re never bored from a lack of work, there is always something happening,” said McCann, “I haven’t even had time to think about what I’ll do when retired. Haven’t figured that out yet.”
But she has won the plaudits of her co-workers.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Sue [even] prior to my position as superintendent,” said Laura Schwalm, GGUSD’s superintendent.
“I could not have asked for someone better or more absolutely focused to the fact that we are stewards of the community’s resources to be used for the children. She is the finest business person … possibly in the state and has done an outstanding job to make sure the future generation can take up her place.”
Although she ended up right where she belonged, McCann didn’t start off there.
When she joined the GGUSD work force, McCann was directing food services.
Back then, the district was staring down the barrel of declining enrollment and closing campuses.
“There were nine that year,” said McCann.
For McCann, in food services, that meant reworking the kitchens and the whole food service department. Those changes had to happen in about three months while still feeding up to 40,000 kids every day, maybe three times a day.
Now, all school sites are up and running and all will be undergoing construction at some point in the next four years, thanks to the improvements bond, Measure A.
“We have accomplished so much,” said McCann, “The best thing about this job is really the team I work with that makes all this happen. I know it sounds cliché, but really, the people I have around me here make work not like work at all.”
For all the triumphs, there are still trials.
“These last four, five years have been hardest,” said McCann, referring the budget woes passed down from the state.
The most commonly heard refrain has been “what can be cut when there is nothing left to be cut from?”
On top of trying to make ends meet on a seriously slimmed-down budget, there are still day-to-day things that have to get taken care of.
“Bills, repairs, dealing with vandalism . . . this all falls under my jurisdiction,” said McCann.
Coming up with ways to execute ideas before they get thought of is also under her umbrella.
“So, when we see or hear about something in technology or a way to move information in this department, we try to find an execution plan before it even gets to the school board for approval. That way, when they ask about it, we already have something for them to look at and understand,” said McCann, “We always try to stay a few steps ahead.”
At the end of the day and the end of her tenure, McCann is happy to have worked with the people she is with and confident in leaving her post.
“You should never feel that no one can do it if they aren’t you. If you do, then how can it be done when you’re gone? If you start thinking of yourself as indispensible, then you might need to come down a peg or two, you know,” said McCaan.