Roger Brossmer had already been teaching science for a full year at Downey High School when he got his master's in education from UC-Santa Barbara in 1995. He was to teach the subject at DHS for eight years. Then, in relatively rapid succession, he became vice principal of the Downey Adult School in 2002, principal in 2004 (when Kathy Gorman retired), and, in a title realignment, director of adult education in 2008.This July 1, when he takes over the functions which for the last seven years have been performed by another high achiever, assistant superintendent of personnel relations Stan Hanstad, it will mean the close of another 8-year involvement in one place. Hanstad is retiring at the end of June. Brossmer's new title: senior director of personnel services. The title downgrade is a concession to the district's belt-tightening measures. Nevertheless, it doesn't represent a diminution of duties at the position. If anything, Brossmer said, again as a cost saving measure, duties have increased. Brossmer's record of achievement at the adult school speaks for itself: he reversed an operating loss of more than $1 million annually and realized over $4 million in reserve accounts for the district, despite current economic pressures and decreased state funding; increased attendance from 12,000 students per year in 2003-04 to 18,000 per year in 2008-09, in the process increasing the overall school budget from $6.4 million to $10.5 million, earning for the adult school recognition as "the fastest growing adult school in California" in each of the school years from 2006-07 through 2008-09, and ranking as the 15th largest adult school in the state; and, among other things, added 10 healthcare career programs, training 2,000 students to enter the healthcare workforce in the past 5 years. He has thus re-branded the school's image as a learning institution His promotion by any measure is a hugely significant one, and Brossmer says it calls for a grasp of board policy, the key provisions (and nuances) of the contractual agreements with the three DUSD unions, and the ramifications of the budget. "My relationship with the unions can be critical," he said, "as well as the right staffing quality and quantity." He was the victim of a prank after his promotion was announced, as well as that of his replacement, Phil Davis, director of support programs and career-technical education. Coming to his office one day, Brossmer found Davis' paraphernalia everywhere where his should have been: hanging on the walls were Davis' certificates, family photos were those of Davis, the nameplates and business cards were Davis'-his staff had switched everything! He has been spending the last several weeks poring over the paperwork, and getting his feet wet in the negotiations with the unions that culminated in the recent signing of the master agreement with the teachers' union. In this connection, he can't say enough about the help and mentoring he has got from Hanstad "He doesn't mind taking a backseat and letting me at times to handle the negotiations and going out of his way to make sure I get up to speed. The district staff, too, has also been very helpful," he said. Brossmer has also had to concurrently fulfill his responsibilities as a Downey City Council member. Elected in 2008 to the City Council, he says his years on the Planning Commission (he calls it the 'minor leagues' of local politics) prepared him for his City Council gig. He says he's happy with the direction the city is taking and, despite the tough economic times, there are bright spots "we can be proud of," specifically: the opening of Kaiser Permanente, an increasingly vibrant downtown (Porto's Bakery, Verizon, and other new developments in the area) and not to mention Tesla. "I'm confident that we'll have a deal on this," he said. Born in 1971 in Downey, Brossmer attended Grades 1-12 in Gig Harbor, Wash., water-skiing in the summer and snow-skiing in the winter. Those were normal, happy times, he said, growing up right smack in the middle of Puget Sound, in the shadow of Mt. Rainier, and surrounded by 'lakes' and enabling them to enjoy riding on powerboats. Thus his choice of a major in aquatic biology at UC-Santa Barbara for his bachelor's degree. His favorite subject was math, he said. He said his parents, particularly his mom, exerted a heavy influence on him. Their advice: "You get out what you put in"; "There are no guarantees in life, and not all paychecks are guaranteed"; "Not all jobs are 9-5 jobs"; and "If you've got to do something, give it your all!" "I'd already started the Relay for Life two years before my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer," Brossmer said. "This gave my efforts a whole new meaning. Running the event was a good outlet for me. She succumbed to the dreaded disease at age 58, and she never got to enjoy her longed-for retirement. I am still very active in it: I'm active for her." "And I learned another valuable lesson from all this: because there are no guarantees, you've got to enjoy what you've got. If you've got an opportunity to do something, do it. Don't live with regrets." His current reading focuses on management matters and leadership, he said. In fact, a small group consisting of "a few of us administrators has developed into an informal impromptu discussion group, exchanging information and ideas whenever and wherever we meet." Books read and discussed include Daniel H. Pink's "A Whole New Mind" and "Drive" (on the true elements of motivation), Jeffrey Marx's "Season of Life" (on the journey to manhood), and Stephen M. R. Covey's "The Speed of Trust". He says he'll suggest that they formalize the group and invite others willing to invest a little time discussing the ideas in a group setting. The writings represent new insights into behavior, etc., and are truly "eye-opening," he said. (The members of the informal group include high school principals Tom Houts and John Harris, Davis, Robert Jagielski, and himself.). Whatever else the future holds for Brossmer, it's clear he's someone to reckon with.
********** Published: May 7, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 3