Scheerhorn to resign in September | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Scheerhorn to resign in September

William Ferchland

The superintendent of Lake Tahoe Unified School District announced Wednesday she will resign in September to take the same position in Southern California.

Diane Scheerhorn, 56, accepted an offer from Centralia School District in north Orange County to succeed Superintendent Bobbi Mahler, who will retire Aug. 13.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to become a member of the Centralia School District family,” Scheerhorn said. “I look forward to reaping the rewards of this new position as well as meeting the challenges that come with it.”

Scheerhorn’s last day at LTUSD is Sept. 2. She has been with the district four years.

Board of education members will meet Monday in closed session to release Scheerhorn from her contract. Scheerhorn was signed until June 2006 for an annual salary of $127,000.

The district now has an option of having an interim superintendent, hiring a replacement before the first day of school Sept. 7 or making a hire in a few months, said Human Resources Director Beth Delacour.

Many were surprised by the news. Carol Murdock, president of the teachers’ union, was shocked and saddened.

“I’m disappointed because I think we’ve been working in the right direction as a district,” Murdock said. “She has been somebody who has been receptive and open to new ideas.”

Board President Wendy David was away on vacation and couldn’t be reached for comment. Board member Barbara Bannar was cautious in her statements.

“We’re going to attempt to turn it into a positive and create a school district the community wants,” she said.

Bannar wouldn’t comment if Scheerhorn’s departure would mean a consolidation of the superintendent and assistant superintendent positions, which has been supported by many in the community.

Board member Sue Novasel said options now exist for the board.

“Certainly this is a time when we need to be looking at some cost cutting but we can’t be too fast, we can’t act randomly,” Novasel said. “This is the most important decision a school board can make on who leads our school district.

“I can say Diane had a really hard road to hoe in this school district,” Novasel added.

It has been a mostly difficult four years for Scheerhorn. A steady decline of students equated to a loss of money from the equally financially struggling state. During the past five years, more than $5 million and a battalion worth of employees have been cut from the district.

In April, a parcel tax worth an annual $3.2 million for the general fund was struck down by voters. As a result two elementary schools closed, fees increased and teachers laid off.

“I know this really looks as a challenging time for the school district but I want parents, staff and the community to know we have all the pieces in order for a successful opening for the 2004-05 school year,” Scheerhorn said, while giving thanks to friends and colleagues in South Shore.

In a press release compiled by the district, Irv Trinkle, school board president of Centralia School District, described Scheerhorn as a “proven leader with a truly noteworthy track record.”

The district has 5,400 students in nine kindergarten to sixth-grade schools. Its Web site states it was the first California district to provide free textbooks to students.

In September 2000, Scheerhorn agreed to a three-year contract at a starting salary of $100,000. She earned an annual salary of $95,720 during her four years with Gaylord Community Schools in Michigan.

Before Gaylord, Scheerhorn was with Byron Area Schools, also in Michigan, where she was a teacher for 18 years before becoming superintendent for three.

Scheerhorn said she and husband Steve will keep their Tahoe house. Their daughter, Lindsay, is a student at Western Michigan University.

– E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com.


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