Gilroy schools’ first public information officer has resigned to take a similar job in Sunnyvale that pays $46,000 more a year.
Rachel Zlotziver leaves her Gilroy Unified School District Public post at the end of July.
She was hired in August 2015 with a total compensation package of about $116,000, including a salary of $86,368. During that year, her salary jumped to nearly $94,000.
Zlotziver has shepherded GUSD media and public relations and internal communications efforts through a tough bond measure campaign and an ongoing lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct by a former Gilroy High School teacher.
On Aug. 1, she starts a new job as the coordinator of communications for the Fremont Union High School District at its headquarters office in Sunnyvale.
FUHSD spokesperson Sue Larson did not yet know Zlotziver’s starting salary, but said the position’s pay range begins just shy of $140,000, not including benefits.
GUSD superintendent Debbie Flores said she became emotional when her first choice by far for the district’s first-ever PIO broke the news of her pending departure earlier in July.
“I almost cried when she walked in and told me she was leaving. First I was in shock and then I was just very sad,” Flores said, adding that she is happy for Zlotziver and never tries to stand in the way of a good career move.
At Zlotziver’s new district, retiring communications coordinator Larson said, “We are so excited about having Rachel come, she was an enthusiastic choice of the folks who interviewed her, they were so impressed by her background and experience and skills. I think she will be a great addition to our school district and I really am so sorry for the Gilroy community, we know what it’s like to have a person go some place else.”
The two districts have roughly the same number of students, 11,000 to 12,000, but GUSD is K-12 and FUHSD is made up of five high schools. They are Fremont, Cupertino, Homestead, Lynbrook and Monta Vista.
The district also has a robust adult education program that serves 20,000 learners, according to Larson.
Flores she could not have been more effusive about Zlotziver’s performance.
“I can’t imagine anyone being better than Rachel. She was heads and shoulders above the rest of the (12) applicants,” she said. “She did a great job, worked very well with everyone in the district, it’s a great loss, it will be hard to find someone of her caliber.”
For her part, Zlotziver, 31, had high praise for Flores and the school board, saying “They have been nothing but supportive.”
Her decision to leave was based on the new job’s proximity to her home in San Jose and the fact that the new post is a cabinet-level position, which it was not in Gilroy, giving her better access to district issues at the highest level.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Zlotziver, who also was paid a $200 a month car allowance by GUSD.
“I have made amazing friends here and have wonderful colleagues, it’s a wonderful district (but) this is a good career step.”
Fred Tovar, president of the GUSD Board of Trustees, said in an email that he was “deeply saddened” to hear about the departure. The district, he said, “will not be the same without Rachel. However, we as a board are delighted that she is leaving for a better opportunity. GUSD is grateful to Rachel for her cooperation, hard work and dedication as an exceptional employee. We all benefited from her innovative, spirited, and trend-setting ideas.”
Finding a replacement, Tovar said, “will be a big challenge in itself. I hope that her new employer, and coworkers, know how lucky they are to have such a wonderful and extraordinary individual. Thank you Rachel for your contributions to GUSD and the community! You will be missed. Good luck in all your ventures.”
Trustee Mark Good said, “Rachel has done an exemplary job during her short tenure at the district and we are sorry to see her go. It was a surprise when we were notified that she was leaving.”
During that tenure, Zlotziver, a one-time aid to former state assemblyman Jim Beall, helped guide the district through a difficult but successful $170,000 bond measure campaign in June and was responsible for much of the public-facing materials mailed to voters.
And it was Zlotziver who faced a battery of TV cameras last month when high-profile attorney Gloria Allred filed suit against GUSD and called a press conference at district headquarters in the case of a former teacher caught up in a sexting scandal involving minors.
“Her strength was in her communications skills but also her ability to commit things to writing, she was great under pressure and very responsive,” Flores said.
She credited Zlotziver with creating much-needed and greatly appreciated district recognition programs for staff, students, community partners and parents.
“She dramatically improved our recognition programs and took that to the next level,” the superintendent said.
With the new school year a month away and new teacher orientations coming soon, GUSD officials are looking to hire Zlotziver’s replacement fast. They will accept applications until Aug. 5.