Longest serving Antioch School Board member, Claire Smith, steps down suddenly

Claire Smith

Claire Smith

By Nick Goodrich

A surprising announcement came during the Antioch Unified School District’s Board meeting on Wednesday night, March 23rd. Longtime board member Claire Smith announced at the beginning of the meeting that this would be her last, as a member of the Board.

Smith informed those in attendance that she would be moving to join family in Southern California, and therefore would resign as a member of the Board, effective after the meeting. She stated that, as the Board is currently experiencing a time of transition due to a Superintendent vacancy and the recent appointment of new member Fernando Navarro, she had kept her intentions under wraps in order to avoid shaking things up even more.

Smith has served a total of 21 years on the School Board, making her the longest continuous office holder in the history of Antioch, according to fellow board member Walter Ruehlig. She has been known for making tough decisions and presenting a strong face throughout her tenure, all while keeping the well-being of the School District’s children foremost in her decision-making, he shared.

An outpouring of support for Smith came from her fellow Board Members, Board staff, and those in attendance following her announcement, capped by a standing ovation. Ruehlig summed up her service on the board, by stating “She didn’t always make the easy choice, but she always made the right one.”

The Board will now begin the process of searching for Smith’s replacement, electing later in the meeting to go through the appointment process rather than a vote, which would cost the District several thousand extra dollars.

Smith is the second Antioch School Board member to resign in the past year. Barbara Cowan resigned 0n September 23rd, stating she would be moving to Oregon. Navarro is her replacement. In addition, Don Gill announced his resignation as Superintendent, effective this June, the same night. He was later placed on what has amounted to as paid, administrative leave. The Board hired a search firm, earlier this month, to help with his replacement.

Smith’s seat is up for election in November. So anyone appointed would serve about six or seven months on the board.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

the attachments to this post:

Claire Smith

One Comment to “Longest serving Antioch School Board member, Claire Smith, steps down suddenly”

  1. Arne says:

    Claire Smith has been an outstanding Trustee of the AUSD. While it is a loss for the AUSD, she is making the right decision that family comes first.

    Claire, thank you for the 21 years of service you have provided to the AUSD that brought in Deer Valley High School, Black Diamond & Dallas Ranch Middle Schools, five elementary schools, Dozier-Libbey Medical High School, numerous academies and a the increased student population from when you were first on the board!!

Leave a Reply