New School Board Members Seated, Form New Majority
The two newest school board members, known as Trustees, were given their oaths of office, last Wednesday night and took their seats at the dais, and soon created a new majority with their first major decision of who would become Board President.
Retired teacher and former teacher’s union president Gary Hack, who was the top vote-getter in the November election was given the oath by School District Superintendent Don Gill, with his wife Diana holding the Bible, by his side and mortgage consultant and former Antioch High School staffer Joy Motts was sworn in by Councilwoman Mary Rocha, who is a former school board member. Joy’s brother Kerry held the Bible for her during the ceremony.
Councilwoman Rocha pointed out to the audience that Mott’s mother, also named Joy, who served on the school board in the 1960’s and 70’s, said her daughter would take her place on the board one day.
“I want to thank everybody and my family who had to stand there and tolerate me during the campaign,” Motts stated. “I am truly honored and look forward to the next four years and the challenges ahead.”
Board President Claire Smith also announced that Motts had resigned from her position at Antioch High School the day before, “so there’s no conflict of interest.” Motts said she will continue working as a mortgage consultant in Antioch.
Hack also offered his brief thanks and comments.
“The Antioch Unified School District is a great school district. It works very well,” he said. “I look forward to working to make it better.”
Superintendent Gill offered his comments to the new members. “I want to welcome you to this board. I know your heart has been involved with the school district,” he shared.
Deer Valley High’s Co-Principals, Clarence Isadore and Scott Bergerhouse, representing the Antioch Management Association, offered their “welcome to this dynamic Antioch School Board.”
Then Rocha stepped to the microphone. “Gary Hack, we go back a long time. When he had hair on his head,” she said. “And it was brown,” Hack added with a laugh.
Board Vice President Walter Ruehlig had to bow out of the meeting, early to make it to his wife’s oath of office ceremony as the new member of the Contra Costa Board of Education, which she was also elected to, last month.
Following the ceremonies, the new board went into closed session then when they returned, the new members took their first votes.
Although President Smith asked to stay on for another year in her position, Motts suggested the position go to Diane Gibson-Gray since she’s been on the board for two years.
She nominated Gibson-Gray, Hack seconded the motion and it passed 5-0. Then Smith was voted in as Vice President of the Board, also on a 5-0 vote. Smith stated that Gibson-Gray would take over as President at the end of the meeting.
Gray responded, “At some point, I figured I’d be shoved into the presidency.”
“Having the President step down to Vice President is good for me, having a tenured member sit next to me,” she added.
Ruehlig complimented Smith.
“Mrs. Smith has done a great job. She knows this district, the players inside and out,” Ruehlig stated. “I do believe in the rotation and everyone should have the opportunity to be president. [Former Trustee] Teri Shaw missed that opportunity, for whatever reason.”
Smith added, “It’s a very equal board.”
The board then made the following committee appointments:
School Board-City Council Representatives – President Gibson-Gray, Vice President Smith
Antioch Youth Council Liaison – Hack
Contra Costa County School Boards – Gibson-Gray will continue serving
CFD-89 (Mello-Roos) Board – Gibson-Gray will continue to serve in the one-year position, Ruehlig will continue to serve, but in the two-year position. Both are Mello-Roos taxpayers.
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