By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
Inviting comments and suggestions from a wide spectrum of the community, the Garden Grove Unified School District Board of Education held a rare all-day session Saturday.
The main topic of the extended meeting, which began at 10 a.m., was to hear from the public about the replacement of retiring Superintendent Laura Schwalm. She is stepping down this summer after 14 years as head of Orange County’s third-largest public school system.
“We are meeting not only to get input about the selection of a new superintendent,” said Board President George West, “but also to help the board form a new mission statement for the district as we go forward.”
In approximately half-hour sessions, the board met with representatives of employee organizations, parent groups, student government, community leaders and others.
Among the topics raised at the meeting were whether the GGUSD should hire a superintendent from within the district staff, as well as matters related to school security, education for those who might not be college-bound and the diversity of the district.
No action was taken at Saturday’s meeting, but the selection of a new superintendent is a closed session item on the agenda for Tuesday’s regular meeting of the GGUSD.
Schwalm is leaving a district that’s experienced a sharp increase in statewide test scores and which was recognized in 2004 as winner of the Broad Prize for Urban Education after being a finalist in 2003.
The district is in a period of transition, as several of its longest-serving and high-ranking leaders move into retirement. Last month Sue McCann, the GGUSD’s top financial officer, announced that she would be stepping down.
The GGUSD serves most of Garden Grove as well as parts of Anaheim, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Santa Ana, Stanton and Westminster.