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One trustee abstains in vote on new schools chief

San Diego Unified School District trustee Shelia Jackson abstained Tuesday when the Board of Education approved the promotion of Bill Kowba from interim superintendent to superintendent and his contract.

Both items were approved by 4-0 votes.

Jackson declined to comment on her decision to abstain. Kowba has otherwise drawn praise from other board members and staff.

There was some criticism among the public that the hiring process was not thorough and discouraged more qualified individuals from applying.

Kowba, a 58-year-old former Navy admiral, succeeds Terry Grier, who left for Houston last year.

The board approved what member John Lee Evans described as “a no-frills contract” that will pay Kowba $250,000 annually, $19,000 less than that given to his predecessor.

Kowba will also be provided a $10,000 car allowance, but will be subject to the same five furlough days and corresponding salary reduction faced by every other district employee.