Following the announcement of Turlock Unified School District’s first and only facilities planner and safety coordinator Roger Smith's retirement earlier this month, the Board of Trustees hosted a special meeting Monday to determine his replacement.
Martell Taylor, who currently works for Sodexo at The Webb Schools in Claremont, was elected to take over after Smith leaves and is anticipated to relocate and start at the district later this week.
As TUSD’s first and only facilities planner and safety coordinator, Smith started working in the district in March 1990. Smith said that the most challenging part of his position over the years was obtaining grant eligibility and funding for school projects through the State.
“Governor Brown has stated the complexity of the current state program, involving up to 10 state agencies, punishes small school districts and favors large school districts that have facilities planning departments,” said Smith.
Another challenge that Smith said he encountered throughout his time spent at TUSD was unifying Turlock Joint Elementary School District and Turlock Joint Union High School District.
“As with any major change in organization and operations, the two Boards were hesitant and sometimes uncomfortable in merging into a unified district,” said Smith. “The Chatom and Keyes Union School Districts raised concerns regarding the changes and did not want to be part of a single district governed by one board.”
Despite the difficulties, Smith said his favorite part of the position was coordinating and collaborating with staff and the community to develop school facilities that are designed for the future of education, a task he said was the “most rewarding feature of planning.”
“Facilitating solutions to problems is the best part of planning work,” said Smith.
Smith said that he hopes to see TUSD achieve the ambitious goals set by General Obligation Bond Measures N and O, which were both passed earlier this month.
“Improving safety and security at all school sites, renovating facilities to modern and accessible standards and achieving STEM educational programs are goals for TUSD’s future,” said Smith.
Prior to his work at TUSD, Smith was the City of Turlock Senior Planner and Planning Manager from 1986 to 1990, and the Stanislaus Area Association of Governments Planner from 1977 to 1986, which included time spent as the Circuit Rider Planner and City Planner for the Cities of Patterson and Waterford from 1982 to 1986, Environmental Planner, Air Quality Planner, Transportation Planner and Housing Planner. He was also drafted into the United States Army from 1971 to 1972.
Smith said that he would “like to take some time off” after half of a decade of continuous work. He said that although he has already received numerous offers for financial and planning consulting work, he is currently exploring a return to his original career goal: investigative journalism.