LBUSD extends superintendent’s contract through 2025-26 school year

The Long Beach Unified School District offered Superintended Jill Baker a one-year contract extension at Wednesday evening’s Board of Education meeting, which will keep her in the district’s top position through the 2025-26 school year.

“This extends the contract by one year. It does not increase the salary or salary schedule,” said LBUSD Chief Business and Financial Officer Yumi Takahashi.

Baker had been on a four-year contract that was due to expire in the 2024-25 school year, and this extension adds another year to the end of that agreement.

“The rules around doing these are complicated but I consider this just a request for us to decide whether we want the superintendent’s contract to be renewed and I wholeheartedly do,” said LBUSD board member Doug Otto. “I support and champion everything we’re doing in this district and I’m happy to make the motion.”

Baker took over the LBUSD at a time of great turmoil, with her promotion followed almost immediately by the COVID-19 pandemic. She also had to deal with labor disputes with both of the district’s major unions, the Teachers Association of Long Beach and the local chapter of the California Schools Employees Association, which the district successfully concluded with new agreements last spring.

Board of Education meeting format changes

As the school district prepares to enter its 138th school year, it does so with women in power and looking to make some changes to how its meetings are run. LBUSD superintendent Baker and newly appointed LBUSD Board President Megan Kerr have both been talking a lot for the last two years about adjusting the LBUSD board meeting formats so that there’s less time spent on roll call votes and more time spent on talking about students and what’s happening in classes.

Starting with this week’s meeting, the format has changed so that most of the votes on regular items will occur with one vote, as opposed to several consecutive unanimous yes votes, which is what normally happened.

“For the last two years we’ve been talking about transitioning our focus to student outcomes,” said Kerr. “What we primarily want the public to hear at these meetings is around student outcomes—what our students are learning and doing.”

Baker called it “an opportunity to reimagine what we want our board meetings to be” and said she’s glad to see the board “prioritizing time for talking about students and the progress they’re making.”

Going forward, instead of multiple personnel reports and business reports being voted on individually, they will be approved as one batch of items on a consent calendar.

“There’s always an opportunity for a board member to engage in further discussion and take something out of that calendar,” said Baker, who added, “Each meeting will have staff presenting data and telling the story of what’s happening in classes.”

The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Sept. 7.

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