John Baker, the outgoing president of the South San Francisco Unified School District (SSFUSD) board of trustees, received a standing ovation along with commendations from local, county, and state officials, after bidding farewell to his colleagues and members of the community at the school board’s December 15, 2022, meeting.
Baker, who opted not to run for reelection, gave way instead to Amanda Anthony, who was sworn in after winning 70% of the vote in the November 8 election.
“Congratulations, Amanda, you’ve got so much to which to look forward,” said Baker. “This job can bring you much pride.”
He went on to recount some of the school board’s achievements over the years including:
- A new memorandum of understanding between SSFUSD and the police department to regulate interactions between school liaison officers and high school students;
- The district’s renewed focus on equity to deliver resources to underserved students;
- Adoption of next generation science standards; and
- Passage of Measure T, a new $436 million bond measure to repair and renovate SSFUSD schools.
“It’s important for new board members to remember what a trustee does,” Baker said, encapsulating the role of an elected school board member. “You’re here to govern, not administrate. The board sets the limits, the floors, the ceilings of where the district should be and then hires one person, the superintendent, to run the district within those rules.
“Trustees need to be advocates for our students,” he continued. “They should make sure that the community and the state provide all that schools need to do their jobs. Trustees need to be the eyes and ears for the professionals in the district, the lookouts for icebergs or red flags that will impede progress. Trustees need to beg, borrow, barter, and acquire every bit of funding needed to provide the best education for our students.”
Growing emotional, Baker said he would miss visiting classrooms and seeing students play at recess. He then thanked his fellow board members, likening them to a second family, and the district’s employees before addressing SSFUSD Superintendent Dr. Shawnterra Moore directly.
“Shawnterra, I can’t put into words how privileged this community is to have you. Your compassion for education, your dignity, and especially your love for the students are all so inspiring. People often overuse the term, ‘It was an honor to work with you.’ But, Shawnterra, I am indeed honored to have had you as a colleague. You are one of the most amazing women I have ever met.”
Baker is the father of two children in SSFUSD schools, a middle schooler and a 2022 high school graduate. He was appointed to the board in January 2016, elected in November 2016, and re-elected in 2018. He first became school board president in December 2018 and has also served as vice president and board clerk.
Prior to his appointment as a trustee, Baker was a member of the board of the South San Francisco Public Library, the SSF Housing Authority, and the SamTrans Citizens Advisory Committee.
He works as a grant administrator, holds a Master of Public Administration degree from San Francisco State University (SFSU), and is a graduate of the California School Board Association's (CSBA) Masters in Governance program.