SDUSD Header
Return to Headlines

Supt. Kowba announces retirement

Bill Kowba
 Bill Kowba

Superintendent Bill Kowba has announced his retirement from the San Diego Unified School District, effective June 30.

Kowba was named Superintendent in June 2010, after serving as interim superintendent following the departures of Terry Grier and Carl Cohn. He also served as the district's Chief Financial Officer, Chief Special Projects Officer and Chief Logistics Officer.

In a statement to the San Diego Unified staff and the community, Kowba said he notified the Board of Education of his decision today. His retirement will come at the end of his three-year contract as Superintendent.

"It is only after extensive reflection with my family and great mixed emotions that I have formally notified the Board of Education of my decision to retire on June 30, 2013," he wrote in a statement to the district's employees and the San Diego Unified community. "In the months ahead, I will have opportunities to thank all of you for your support, loyalty, and commitment to our San Diego Unified mission. But one can never thank enough those who have dedicated themselves to singular sacrifice and collaboration on the incredible journey of the past seven years."

During his tenure as Superintendent, San Diego Unified's record of academic achievement has garnered national attention. The district last year celebrated achieving an overall California Academic Performance Index score of 808, ranking second of just three large California districts that meet the state's target score.

In addition, Kowba's tenure has been marked by expansion of the technology available to students, with iPad tablet computers and Promethian "smart boards" equipping a growing number of classrooms.

These advances have kept student achievement growing throughout his years with the district, despite continual cutbacks in funding. Two successful bond measures during the Kowba era have provided local funding for infrastructure improvements but operating funds have dwindled by millions as a result of state and federal cutbacks. Kowba addressed these challenges in his retirement letter to the Board of Education.

"This tenure has been earmarked by both great resource challenge and solid academic achievement," he wrote. "At center stage, the Board, staff, and community have had to deal with incessant draconian cuts to the state and district budgets triggered by the single deepest and most prolonged economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

"Year after year, we have had to make the most difficult decisions impacting all stakeholder groups. Great collaboration and sacrifice by all have enabled us to accommodate the budget deficits. That said, we must relentlessly address the future year fiscal challenges with balanced, long-term budget solutions."

Still, Kowba said the focus on academics had paid off for students.

"We have been able to maintain a laser focus on academic excellence and not allow the budget woes to distract from our core educational mission. The results speak for themselves," he said.

"This is testimony to one of the hardest working and most dedicated teams that I have ever been associated with in my adult life."

Board of Education President Dr. John Lee Evans thanked Supt. Kowba for his service.

"We congratulate Superintendent Kowba for the stability that he has finally brought to this district," said Evans. "He has shepherded this district through a difficult period with the utmost dignity and human decency, has planned for the future, and has provided a great example for the next superintendent."

Other Board members also lauded Kowba's record at the District.

"As a parent and as a board member," said District D Trustee Richard Barrera, "I just want to thank Bill Kowba for being a role model that I think any of our young people could be proud to look to as an example of how to live your life in a way that makes a difference."

"The candor, with such concern, and how carefully you consider the issues, and how thorough you examine the issues is very impressive and very much appreciated," said Trustee Marne Foster of District E.

"I don't think there is any employee of this district who works harder and cares more about our kids than Bill Kowba," said District C Trustee Scott Barnett.

"While I don't agree, I understand your desire to retire and just as Trustee Foster said, you'll be missed," said Kevin Beiser, District B Trustee.

San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Randy Ward lauded Kowba for his service to San Diego Unified, as well as the other 41 districts in the county. Kowba has chaired the county-wide Achievement Gap Task Force, which is working to ensure that all students are ready for the 21st job market.

"To use a naval analogy, which is fitting given Bill’s background, he provided a stabilizing rudder that guided the district through the rough waters of the state’s fiscal crisis," said Ward. "Bill’s strong leadership has made a difference not only in San Diego Unified, but also across the county."

Before joining the District, Kowba was a career Navy Supply Corps Officer, retiring at the rank of Rear Admiral. Across his extensive military service, he served in ever increasingly responsible leadership positions in the supply chain/logistics and financial management fields. His assignments included three shipboard tours, two Navy Pentagon details, and numerous field activity experiences. Admiral Kowba was the first commander of the Fleet and Industrial Supply Centers. As such, he developed a global network of seven supply centers operating at more than 100 sites and staffed by almost 7,000 logistics, acquisition, and financial professionals.

Bill Kowba was born and raised in Rochester, New York. After completing his undergraduate and graduate degree programs at Saint Bonaventure University and the University of Richmond, he joined the Navy and was commissioned as a Supply Corps Officer. He holds Master Degrees from University of Richmond and Webster University and an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA. Additionally he has completed the Executive Management program at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

The Board of Education has not yet announced a plan for hiring a successor.