Valley News -

By Jeff Pack

Farnbach returns to TVUSD board replacing Skumawitz


Last updated 8/16/2019 at 10:14am

Temecula Valley Unified School District photo

Julie Farnbach is sworn in by Superintendent Timothy Ritter during the Aug. 6 meeting of the Temecula Valley Unified School District's Board of Education. Farnbach was appointed to fill a vacancy in District 4 when Trustee Adam Skumawitz chose to resign from the seat in June to avoid a conflict of interest.

Julie Farnbach, who served on the Temecula Valley Unified School District's Board of Education from 2014 to 2018, was appointed during the TVUSD board meeting Aug. 6, to fill a vacancy created by District 4 Trustee Adam Skumawitz' resignation in June.

Skumawitz, who assumed the seat after being elected in 2018, made the decision to resign his seat after learning he could be found in violation of Government Code 1090 in regard to the employment status of his wife.

"Government Code 1090 is easier to understand when it relates to the promotion of a spouse of a board member," Skumawitz said in a released statement at the time of his resignation. "For example, a board member's spouse being promoted from teacher to principal would be a violation. ... As it relates to me specifically, my wife reduced her contract from full-time to part-time after the birth of our third child. With our son now reaching preschool age, it was time for her to return to full-time employment with the school district."

His wife, Jen, who worked as a two-day-a-week counselor in the TVUSD district this school year, was offered a full-time position in the same role.

That's when he was notified that if she accepted the job, he would be found in violation of the code. Rather than fight the law, he chose instead to support his wife's career.

"When I heard about Adam's resignation I felt awful, for him and for the district," Farnbach said. "Because I had mentored him and endorsed his campaign, I felt obligated to help. Knowing that I was available to serve for another year made the decision to apply very simple. If I was needed, I would step up and fill the void. I made that decision within a matter of days, before learning anything about the appointment process, without knowing if anyone else would apply."

Farnbach said that after serving four years on the board, she chose not to run again because she and her husband had planned to leave the area following the graduation of their youngest son.

"His sisters are grown and gone, so it's the right time for us to downsize and relocate closer to work in Irvine," Farnbach said. "Then my husband's company was bought out in April. In June we decided to tweak our plans a little bit and wait one more year before putting our house on the market."

The TVUSD Board of Education interviewed 11 eligible candidates during the public session of the Aug. 6 meeting and chose Farnbach for the position that same night.

She was sworn in, and her appointment was effective immediately.

Farnbach said she is ready to get to work.

"There is always more work to do," she said. "My goal has always been to help Temecula families give their kids the best education possible because education is the launch pad of life and the key to maintaining our freedom as Americans. John Adams said, 'Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.'"

She said TVUSD has made some great strides over the years.

"I hope to help the district continue to refine its efforts to meet everyone's needs within the limits of our ever-changing revenue stream," Farnbach said. "Along the way, I will continue to advocate for clear, respectful two-way communication between stakeholders in order to build effective, trusting relationships. Those relationships are essential to meeting our student's needs."

Farnbach said she and Skumawitz share a similar desire to serve.

"I think we both have a similar outlook and desire to serve," she said. "When you're invested in your community, you want what's best for it, not just for your own children but for everyone else's. I share Adam's dedication to fiscal responsibility, to supporting teachers and students in their classrooms, to connecting with parents and community members and truly listening to their concerns, and to communicating those concerns to district staff so they can meet the expectations of their customers, the parents."

However, she will serve her time on the board as an individual representative with her own perspectives.

"Each board member is charged with being an independent voice in order to provide a diversity of thought and balanced perspectives to our group decisions," Farnbach said. "While Adam and I may agree on many things, I am not here to function as a placeholder nor to parrot what he might say. I will represent our area of town like I did before, openly and honestly, to the best of my ability."

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected]


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