Longtime Pasadena Unified School District Board Member Trustee Scott Phelps told Pasadena Now on Wednesday that he does not plan to run for re-election in District 7 this November.
District 7 includes part of the East Arroyo and all of the Linda Vista, San Rafael and Madison Heights areas of the City of Pasadena.
“I suppose given that I will have served seventeen and a half years on the board when I leave next December, one could ask why I stayed so long rather than why this is my last term,” Phelps said. “I stayed long because it was worth the battles to support the good service of district staff and its families and students. It was worth it to try to do right by all of them for as long as possible.”
Phelps said he was glad he remained on the board long enough to see a negative trend in PUSD reverse itself. When Phelps became board president in 2014, he was concerned that the previous three PUSD superintendencies lasted five years, four years and three years, respectively.
“We were going in the wrong direction,” Phelps said. “PUSD had used search firms and wide searches for each one of those superintendents. I was disenchanted with search firms, so I decided to support a promotion from within.”
“Dr. McDonald was our Chief Academic Officer at the time, and he was promoted by the board to superintendent. I am happy to say that the decline in the tenures of superintendents has been reversed, as he is now in the 8th year of his tenure. This is the longest since Dr. Vignes served as superintendent from 1992 to 2000. Stability in a district administration is important for all involved, and so this is a positive accomplishment in my opinion. It wasn’t easy, as holding a majority together to support district staff is not an easy thing in the face of the district’s critics including those on the board. As a majority, we managed to do this and also to do the difficult job of fending off the push by some to close schools that a higher number of families have chosen for their children. As many in the general public said at the time, it defied common sense, especially as these were schools that have desirable integration, but the ideologues are strong so it took quite an effort.”
Phelps has dedicated his 33-year professional career to education. After graduating from Caltech in 1989 with a Master of Science in Geophysics, he taught math and science courses at Pasadena and John Muir high schools from 1989 to 2004.
At Muir he was a founding staff member and coordinator of one of the academies. Since 2004, Scott Phelps has taught math and science courses at the University of La Verne, Mt. San Antonio College, Chaffey College and Cal Poly Pomona.
Phelps has also taught in the College of Education at Cal State LA and served as an advisor to teacher credential candidates at Claremont Graduate University, Cal State Northridge and Mt. St. Mary’s College. Scott Phelps has also worked as a consultant in the program evaluation of schools and districts across California.
According to a partial list of his accomplishments on district’s website, Phelps worked hard in support of Measure CC, the parcel tax for PUSD that garnered 54% approval in 2010.
He successfully fought to remove Jackson Elementary and Norma Coombs Elementary from a school closure list in 2010.
He also supported increased funding for dedicated elementary science teachers at PUSD’s STEM elementary schools and voted to increase funding for the International Baccalaureate programs at Willard and Blair.
Phelps also pushed an effort to increase PCC offerings at John Muir HS and wrote the board’s Resolution 2266 in support which the board adopted in December of 2013. He has followed up and advocated for the restoration of the dual enrollment program when he learned that it was suspended in the fall of 2017.
In 2015, he supported PUSD staff leadership’s successful efforts to save San Rafael Elementary from closure via geologic trenching that proved there were no active earthquake faults at the school.