Dr. Gavin Huntley-Fenner announces decision to step down from school board


Dr. Gavin Huntley-Fenner, a member of the IUSD Board of Education since 2005 and this year’s president, has announced that he will step down from the school board, effective Nov. 21.

“Many of you will recognize that I have always aspired to be a highly visible and hands-on leader,” Huntley-Fenner said in a statement read during the Oct. 1 board meeting. “Recently, with the growth of my business and ongoing demands at home, I find that I am unable to sustain the level of engagement Irvine Unified deserves while continuing to meet my other obligations.”

Acknowledging it was a difficult decision that did not reflect any dissatisfaction with fellow board members or staff, Huntley-Fenner expressed confidence that IUSD “was well positioned to build on its strengths.”

“We have capable, energetic and visionary leadership in Superintendent Terry Walker,” he said. “Our new school board members are off to a fabulous start. Irvine Unified has come through the worst recession in recent memory on solid financial footing. Moreover, we have tremendous opportunities ahead, along with new revenue from the state’s Local Control Funding Formula and Irvine’s own Measure BB.”

Here’s the full text of Huntley-Fenner’s statement:

Dear Irvine Unified Friends and Colleagues:

It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you that I am resigning from the school board effective November 21, 2013.

Many of you will recognize that I have always aspired to be a highly visible and hands-on leader. Recently, with the growth of my business and ongoing demands at home, I find that I am unable to sustain the level of engagement Irvine Unified deserves while continuing to meet my other obligations.

In the end, this decision is based on a standard of commitment for public service. Rest assured it is not related to dissatisfaction with my fellow governing team members or the Irvine Unified staff. On the contrary, I have experienced immense personal satisfaction from my responsibilities as a district leader and from the close relationships I have established with many of you.

Although it is difficult to step away, in large part because I enjoy working with all of you, I am able to leave now because I am confident that IUSD is well positioned to build on its strengths. We have capable, energetic and visionary leadership in Superintendent Terry Walker. Our new school board members are off to a fabulous start. Irvine Unified has come through the worst recession in recent memory on solid financial footing. Moreover, we have tremendous opportunities ahead, along with new revenue from the state’s Local Control Funding Formula and Irvine’s own Measure BB.

I have had the pleasure of being part of a superb team beginning in 2004 and evolving through today. My work with IUSD has been morally uplifting, intellectually stimulating and ultimately a deeply satisfying and fulfilling experience. Through the years I have been on the board, I have always appreciated the positive feedback you’ve given me. This buoyed me through some of the most difficult times, including the implementation of budget cuts. Over the next few weeks, I intend to personally thank as many of you as I possibly can. Yet for now, please accept a general “thank you” for the honor of serving this community.

Whether you are a teacher or classified employee, a board member or a parent volunteer, a custodian or a principal, I will miss working with you in my IUSD family. You are the finest group of professionals I have had the honor to call colleagues. Thank you!

Please think of this as “à bientôt” rather than “sayonara.” Although I am stepping down from the board, I will remain a proud IUSD parent.

Sincerely,

Gavin Huntley-Fenner, Ph.D.
Irvine Unified School District Governing Board, President

 

Dr. Huntley-Fenner has brought a unique perspective to the five-member Board of Education as a scientist with a doctorate in brain and cognitive studies. He’s currently a managing consultant with Huntley-Fenner Advisors, his science and engineering consulting firm, and he’s published research regarding language acquisition and the early development of mathematics.

A founding member of the Irvine Education Partnership Fund Committee and a former member of the Irvine Public Schools Foundation’s executive board, Huntley-Fenner was appointed to fill a school board vacancy in January 2005. He served as board president in 2009 and 2013.

His imminent departure opens up a couple potential paths for his board colleagues, who must decide whether to appoint his replacement or hold a special election to fill the seat. We expect to hear more about that process during the board’s next meeting on Oct. 15.

Also on Tuesday night:

  • The board ratified an agreement between IUSD and Chapter 517 of the California School Employees Association’s Chapter, which represents the district’s classified workers. The agreement increases compensation by 2 percent and includes a one-time payment equal to 1.7 percent of each employee’s pay based on the 2013-14 salary schedule. Contract language also increases the district’s contribution for health benefits. Earlier in the evening, Superintendent Walker noted that IUSD and the Irvine Teachers Association had reached a similar tentative agreement that will be brought forth for a ratification vote at an upcoming board meeting.
  • Board members also approved and adopted a spending plan for funds that were specially allocated by the state for the implementation of the Common Core instructional standards. The plan was discussed at the board’s previous meeting on Sept. 17.