By Tim Hunt
School trustees move decisivelyUploaded: Jan 12, 2017
The decisive move by the Pleasanton school trustees to fire Superintendent Rick Rubino after just six months on the job signals that trustees are serious about bringing the right leadership to the district.
Trustees placed Rubino on leave after an emergency weekend meeting the week before Christmas. They met twice subsequently before announcing he had been fired and Micaela Ochoa will serve as interim superintendent.
I have no clue what the reason was for firing Rubino “with concern”, but obviously it was of great concern to all board members. The timely decision by the unified board sends the right message that they made a mistake in the hire and needed to rectify it and get the right leader in place.
Cutting him loose cost a pretty pile of money-- $256,000 plus benefits—but we should trust the board members that it was right call for the future of the district. And, the decisive action will cost far less than the district has spent on the mess with former Principal Jon Vranesh that still has pending legal action.
Here’s hoping they get it right on the do-over.
We have been fortunate to have a number of effective and long-serving school trustees.
One of them, who had long been out of the public eye, passed on Dec. 21 in Paris, Tennessee. Dr. Geraldine Donaldson was 95 and her life was celebrated last week. She was our neighbor, two doors down for decades and moved to Paris with her son Robert in 2013. For many years, she could be seen daily walking her dog around our very big block.
Her medical practice as both a pedestrian and allergist kept her inside, but she loved the outdoors. Backpacking was one of her favorite activities as former Pleasanton schools chief Bill Berck said at the memorial service. Geraldine was a member of the board that recruited him.
They both belonged to a backpacking group and spent many hours riding together before and after those trips. Their conversations were interesting because they came from opposite sides of the political spectrum and loved to challenge each other, Bill said. As anyone who knew her will testify, she was a very bright person.
Geraldine and her family moved to Pleasanton in 1957 and she was elected to the school board in 1961. She won re-election many times, serving into the early 1980s. Those were critical years as Pleasanton started to grow rapidly, requiring new schools and recruiting additional teachers. Berck remembered how she consistently urged her colleagues to offer the best teacher salaries they could afford so they can attract quality staff.
He also noted how well prepared she was despite the mounds of material that the district staff prepared for each meeting and the demands of her professional career. Her colleagues leaned on her for her expertise.
She, along with her colleagues in those decades, created the foundation for the quality schools that Pleasanton is known for today.