By Miriam Raftery
December 1, 2008 (East San Diego County) — Terry Ryan, former superintendent of the Grossmont Union High School District, died November 24 at his home in
Rancho Bernardo. Battling brain cancer, Ryan resigned from his position
at the GUHSD 18 months ago.
"He worked hard to improve relations with the teachers after what had been
an extremely difficult and contentious two years of negotiations", recalled
GUHSD board member Richard Hoy, who praised Ryan for supporting public education. "The
passage of Prop H, the first bond in over 36 years, was due in no small measure
to his leadership and vision. The students of the district will benefit
from new construction and renovations for many years to come. I would extend
my condolences and prayers to his family during this difficult time."
Ryan had a 37-year career in education, serving in the Grossmont, Santee,
Valley Center and Bonsall School Districts as well as with the San Diego County
Office of Education.
He co-founded the Valley Center Kiwanis Club and served as its first president.
"He made a great contribution to the VC schools", former Valley Center superintendent
Harry Weinberg said, according to the Valley News Roadrunner. He set up a
system of accountability and raised student achievement.
Ryan's tenure at the GUHSD was marred by controversies including a contentious
labor dispute with the teacher's union as well as his opposition to a charter
proposal by Steele Canyon High School; the latter led to a vote of no confidence
by a large majority of the district's teachers, the East County Californian reported.
"There is no question that Terry Ryan was a dedicated educator", recalled
Doug Deane, Chair of the Education Committee for the San Diego East County
Chamber of Commerce. However he observed, Superintendent Ryan's legacy
is tainted by the contentiousness and infighting among the Governing Board
members during his stay in the district, and it is difficult for some to separate
his accomplishments from that controversy." But he added, "It is clear
that Superintendent Ryan was responsible for the District's passing of the
Proposition H bond measure, which started the revitalization of what had once
been a leading high school district in the County, and which had decayed substantially
during the 1980s and 1990s. The residents of the District owe Terry
Ryan a debt of gratitude for beginning that rebuilding process, which will
be furthered by the passing of Proposition U."
Former GUHSD Board Chair Larry Urdahl said in an interview shortly before
Ryan's retirement, "What's never reported is the good job Terry Ryan is doing." He
cited formation of an East County Gang Task force and the Grossmont Educational
Foundation as examples.
Ryan himself believed his greatest accomplishments at the GUHSD were improved
test scores and passage of the bond measure. "We're really pleased about
the continuous academic progress that we're seeing", he said in an interview
with this reporter shortly before his retirement announcement. Asked
about labor controversies amid a time of budget crunches, he concluded, "It's
hard to be popular and well-liked when you're cutting your district's budget
by one-fourth, but it's a responsibility that we have to the taxpayers and
citizens of this community to be financially solvent."
Services are pending. Donations may be made in Ryan's name to the Grossmont
Union High School District, Terry K. Ryan Future Teacher Scholarship Fund,
P.O. Box 1043, La Mesa, CA 91944.