HAYWARD — Jesus Armas, newly appointed interim trustee of Hayward schools, said solving the district's budgetary problems is a critical issue he will face in coming months, but it is not his main concern.

"The goal should not be to solve the fiscal crisis, but rather to solve the fiscal crisis as a means of reaching the true goal, which is to help educate our young people," he said.

Armas, 56, was appointed in a 3-1 vote by board members. Armas will complete the term of Sarah Gonzales, who resigned from the board last month, citing health and family reasons.

Board President Paul Frumkin, who made the motion to appoint Armas at a special meeting on Wednesday, said that while many of the 10 candidates interviewed on Wednesday were impressive and all showed "a lot of heart," the experience of the former Hayward city manager made him the strongest contender.

Armas was city manager for 14 years, and currently is on the governing boards for Moreau Catholic High School, Eden Housing and the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center. He has been a Hayward resident for more than 20 years.

He was involved in working toward the passage of Measure I, the school bond responsible for new construction at five Hayward campuses, as well as the development of Stonebrae and the new Burbank elementary schools.


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Armas intends to seek a permanent spot on the board in the November election, when three seats will be available.

"I have always been very interested in education," he said, "but given my prior job, I could not serve."

He told board members that the district "is facing formidable challenges, and that may be an understatement," but that his experience at City Hall makes him well-suited for the task.

Immediate duties the school board faces are cutting $18 million from a $180 million budget, and finding a new superintendent.

"The magnitude of (the budget deficit) may be different, and some of the constraints that the state imposes are different (than with the city), but when you have people of good will working together, you can find solutions," he said.

Trustee Luis Reynoso did not vote to appoint Armas because of a potential conflict of interest, and a lack of disclosure of the potential conflict. Armas' wife works as a human resources manager for the district.

"I cannot think of a scenario that would not create a conflict," he said. "There is nothing in this district that is not HR-related."

Mary Hernandez, the district's legal counsel, said it will not pose a problem if Armas recuses himself from decisions that will have a direct impact on his wife, such as one affecting her wage or promotion.

"It is a narrow definition, and not something that is on a philosophical level," she said.

Armas is slated to serve at his first board meeting on Wednesday.

Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Contact him at 510-293-2473. Read our blog at www.ibabuzz.com/hayword.