As the administration of Mayor Anthony A. Williams winds to a close, his right-hand man, like the rest of the executive staff, is plotting his next move. Speculation about a possible political future for City Administrator Robert Bobb has run rampant ever since his boss said “No mas.” Most of the buzz was about a possible Bobb Squared mayoral run.
Now it’s time to add another possibility to the list of Bobb career possibilities: a run for school-board president.
On May 2, Bobb invited a handful of local education leaders to breakfast at the J.W. Marriott, ostensibly to talk about one of his passions: improving urban schools. Two of those munching on bacon and eggs were representatives of EdAction, a group of D.C. education professionals focused on recruiting and electing high-caliber candidates for the D.C. Board of Education. The group was behind the successful bids of former school board member Julie Mikuta and current board member Victor Reinoso.
EdAction member Abigail Smith, of Teach for America, is pretty clear about Bobb’s table talk. “He certainly was interested in what we were doing and what we are looking for in candidates,” says Smith. “The impression was he is open to lots of different options after he leaves [his current job].”
Kaya Henderson of the New Teacher Project broke bread with Bobb that morning, but she was reluctant to say how much of the meeting involved talk of a possible Bobb candidacy. “He is taking a broad look at what his life will look like, post–city administrator,” she says.
Other sources say a run for the school-board presidency is among the options being weighed by Bobb. The breakfast meeting involved more political talk that the participants are letting on, these sources say.
Bobb would bring some experience to an education job—he’s a 2005 graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy, a rigorous executive management program designed to prepare senior executives to lead urban public school systems. Last spring, rumors swirled that he was being considered for the top schools job in his old stomping grounds of Oakland, Calif. At the time, he denied ever being a candidate for the job.
A superintendent’s job would certainly appeal to his pocketbook more than heading the Board of Education. In 2004, D.C. Public Schools Superintendent Clifford B. Janey signed a three-year contract that will pay him $250,000 per year plus performance bonuses. The school-board presidency, on the other hand, is a part-time position that pays $16,000. Bobb’s current $185,000 salary is the highest in the Wilson Building, according to city records.
As usual, Bobb is tight-lipped about his plans. He has a very logical explanation for breakfast with EdAction. “I wanted to talk to some people who know a lot about urban education,” he says. “Every one knows I have a strong interest in the schools.” Asked whether he was exploring a run for school-board president, Bobb says, “When I get ready to do something new, I’ll call you all and make an announcement.”
He refused to rule out a run for the school-board presidency but did rule out one future job prospect: He says he will not serve as city administrator under the next mayor.