LBUSD board recognizes outgoing members Meyer and Williams for service

Doug Otto will take over Meyer’s seat to represent District 4, Erik Miller leads to replace Williams in District 2.

Outgoing+LBUSD+board-member+Jon+Meyer+%28left%29+and+outgoing+LBUSD+board-member+Felton+Williams+%28right%29

Photo Courtesy LBUSD

Outgoing LBUSD board-member Jon Meyer (left) and outgoing LBUSD board-member Felton Williams (right)

The Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) Board of Education officially recognized two of its members for their service before their imminent retirements in December. Jon Meyer has represented District 4– consisting of schools in the southeast side of Long Beach– for 17 years and Felton Williams has represented District 2 on the west side of Long Beach for 16 years.

Voters elected Doug Otto to replace Meyer as District 4 representative in March. And though Nov. 3 election results are not yet official, Erik Miller currently leads his opponent Tonia Reyes Uranga by more than 950 votes to assume Williams’s seat in representing District 4.

See related story: Erik Miller leads Tonia Reyes Uranga in early results for LBUSD board seat

Williams served as president– a position that rotates annually among board members– five times during his four terms on the board. He just joined LBUSD following a higher-education career, including administrative positions at Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Dominguez Hills and Long Beach City College, among others.

Board Member Megan Kerr read a resolution highlighting Williams’s role in LBUSD’s strategic planning, its Academic and Career Success Initiative, and other efforts to create equitable opportunities for all students regardless of ethnicity, culture, language challenges, or socioeconomic background. Williams also helped students access advanced-placement and ethnic-studies courses.

“His optimism, tenacity and genuine concern and care for children will be missed,” Kerr said.

Williams’s service on the executive committee of the Council of Great City Schools in Washington D.C. brought national honor and recognition to LBUSD, Kerr added. He was also awarded a National Urban Educator Green Gardener award in 2017.

Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert joined the meeting to commend both outgoing board members, Williams particularly.

“[I want] to acknowledge the incredible and really immeasurable contribution both of them have made to the education of tens of thousands of students,” Haubert said. “Many of our students, by the way, live below the poverty line, many are foster children. We believe all of them deserve the best possible education and that’s why Dr. Williams and Jon Meyer ran for school board in the first place.”

LBUSD district map (Courtesy City of LB)

Haubert further noted William’s contribution to Long Beach’s criminal-justice system, which he said is not well known.

The prosecutor’s office has partnered with LBUSD for the past decade, Haubert said, especially connecting children who come through his office with mentors in the community.

“I’ll be working with the school district on gang intervention programs that help keep kids in school and away from gangs,” Haubert said, adding that gang involvement contributes to truancy.

Williams has helped with Haubert over the past 10 years through his knowledge and experience, Haubert said.

“There’s really no way to describe the advice that I’ve gotten from Dr. Williams every month of every year that we’ve been partnering together,” he said. “He has shared with me his experience as a Black man, as a person growing up in Southern California [and] what the criminal-justice system means to him.”

Williams’s guidance has allowed many of those arrested, find alternatives to incarceration, Haubert said.

In expressing his thanks, Williams said his experience as an African American man during the 1950s and 60s gave him a “vivid understanding” of the inequities of basic structures, which shaped his focus as a board member.

“I’ve been extremely pleased to see the development of an equity policy unfolding,” Williams said. “I feel fortunate in the lessons that I’ve learned and I hope I’ve been able to make a contribution.”

He noted that going forward he will be busy serving as president of the nascent African American Cultural Center of Long Beach.

Like Williams, Meyer has served on the LBUSD board for four terms and three times as its president.

Board President Diana Craighead noted that Meyer previously worked for 42 years as a teacher and coach at several Long Beach schools and educator at Long Beach City College. He is also among four generations of Meyers to attend or teach in LBUSD schools.

Meyer helped the board navigate difficult circumstances such as the 2008 recession, helping LBUSD achieve its status as a “high-functioning organization that is respected nationally and internationally for striving to serve all students no matter what challenges they face,” Craighead said.

“His unwavering and encouraging leadership [helped] keep the school district centered first and foremost on the well-being of students,” she added.

Meyer stressed his appreciation for the friendship of his colleagues.

“I’m proud of our board,” he said. “Every one of our board members puts students first and student outcomes above everything else.”

Incoming LBUSD District 4 board member Doug Otto (left) with outgoing board member Jon Meyer in an undated photo. (Courtesy Doug Otto)

Meyer and his successor Otto just completed visiting every school in District 4, spending an hour with each principal, Meyer said.

“He was really impressed with the quality of our principals,” Meyer said. “He’ll be able to sit on the board and come in at full speed in terms of his knowledge of our schools.”

Craighead said this was only the first of multiple “goodbyes” to the two outgoing members. The board has two more meetings in December before Meyer and Williams officially retire.

“We intend to acknowledge you at each of those meetings,” Craighead said.