Doane Yawyer: Cars

Principal is appointed as Merced high school district trustee

ATWATER — Trustees deferred any action Wednesday night on a raise and contract for the Merced Union High School District's superintendent. The board, however, unanimously appointed Kurt Kollmann to replace Trustee Tim O'Neill on the five-member governing body.

After the meeting, board President Sam Spangler said last-minute details on a three-year contract for Superintendent Scott Scambray needed to be discussed more by the board. Trustee Dave Honey said all issues dealing with Scambray's contract have not been settled.

Under the proposed contract, Scambray would earn $191,227 for the year.

Kollmann will be seated at the September board meeting. Also vying for the board opening was Mary P. Shay. Trustee candidate Tony Slaton withdrew his name from consideration Friday. The board interviewed all three candidates during a meeting in July but delayed the appointment until this week.

Kollmann, principal of Valley Community School operated by the Merced County Office of Education, is a former assistant principal at Atwater and Golden Valley high schools who has spent 25 years in education.

"Thank you for this opportunity," Kollmann told the board. "I look forward to serving."

The role of the school board, Kollmann said in his candidate information sheet, is to continue to ensure all students have opportunities to learn in a safe, clean environment. He said the board's primary function is to set policy that will benefit the stakeholders of the district as well as oversee the financial standing of the school district.

High school trustees earn $400 a month for attending meetings and receive medical, dental and vision insurance for themselves and their families. O'Neill, a trustee for six years, resigned June 30 to devote more time to his business.

By appointing a provisional replacement, the board will save $45,000 to $50,000 in special election costs.

The proposed three-year contract for Scambray would see his pay rise to $196,964 in the 2012-13 school year and $202,873 for the 2013-14 school year.

Scambray was hired in May 2008 to replace retiring Superintendent Bob Fore. In his first three-year contract, Scambray was paid $175,000 in his first year and $185,658 for the school year that ended in June.

A contingent of California School Employees Association members who are classified or nonteaching district employees packed the boardroom at the Castle Commerce Center to protest the possibility of Scambray getting a raise.

The strongest words on the subject came from CSEA union representative Laurie Mitchell.

"How dare you consider a raise in these troubled times?" Mitchell asked trustees. "So few have so much and so many have so few, when all around you see people are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table."

If the raise were granted, she said, trustees would have to answer at election time.

Scambray, 51, is a native of Fresno who was an administrator at Southern California schools for 13 years. He is a graduate of Bullard High School, Fresno City College and California State University, Fresno, and had been assistant superintendent for accountability at the Val Verde Unified School District in Southern California.

Also deferred Wednesday night was any action on a proposal to promote George Sziraki from assistant superintendent of educational services to deputy superintendent.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or