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Cambria's school district superintendent steps down amid dissension

Tyler Pratt/KCBX News
Outgoing Coast Unified School District superintendent Victoria Schumacher hugs a colleague after announcing she is retiring.

Cambria’s Coast Unified School District’s superintendent has resigned. After four years on the job, Victoria Schumacher will leave her post at the beginning of 2019. The move comes after almost all of the district’s teachers voted no-confidence in Schumacher earlier in the year, and follows a recent school board evaluation of her performance.

The district's school board called a special meeting Tuesday night to make a decision on Schumacher's future employment in closed session. As the boardroom of Cambria Union Grammar School gradually filled with teachers, staff, and parents, many played games with each other, like an iPhone version of charades, waiting on the board to announce their verdict. Others played cards. But even though the games, much of the conversation revolved around the same confusion the Cambria school community say they’ve felt for a while now: unexplained are classroom cuts, teacher assignments and a hemorrhaging student population.

“As part of our letter of no confidence that 97 percent of the teachers signed was that we really can’t trust and can't’ understand where this district is going," said Emily Mills, a teacher at Santa Lucia Middle School. “And we don't understand what the vision is, and it seems like Dr. Schumacher doesn’t either and that’s what really frustrates us.”

After an hour of deliberation, the board and superintendent filed back in. Schumacher, who was absent from the last public meeting and hasn’t responded to KCBX News requests for comment or an interview, finally spoke.

“At this time, our district has new needs emerging,” Schumacher said. “That is why at the end of January 2nd, 2019, I will pass the torch to new leadership and embrace the many opportunities that await me in retirement.”

Several members of the audience held hands tightly and smiled as they listened to the announcement they hoped Schumacher would make.

“It has been my honor to serve our incredible community as superintendent,” Schumacher said. “I’m very proud that we as a school district have made significant gains in student achievement.”

The school board quickly wrapped their session and passed out copies of Schumacher's retirement agreement. After stepping down, she will use her remaining sick leave and retire from the district on June 30th of next year. The district will pay her a final severance payment of three months of her salary, an amount which is not immediately publically available. But according to public pensions and pay database, Transparent California, Schumacher made more than $236,000 dollars in 2016. The board will immediately begin working to appoint an interim superintendent or a permanent replacement.

Teacher Emily Mills said she hopes that next candidate, “can think outside the box, has a vision to really bring this community together, and serve these children who so deserve someone who really cares about and understands that they are our future.”

The school board will meet again Thursday for regularly-scheduled business.

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