Each expression of gratitude shook Bowman to tears as he accepted certificates, plaques and resolutions honoring his educational career, which included seven years as the district’s superintendent.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” State Sen. Carol Liu asked Bowman as Deputy Supt. Joel Shapiro handed him a box of tissues.
Bowman later acknowledged that it would be difficult for him to transition into retirement, but he pledged to continue his efforts in public service through community organizations.
“You know, it’s kind of hard to hang up the old spurs after 44 years of work,” he said.
Among the speakers expressing their appreciation for Bowman’s work was Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, who previously served as president of the Board of Education before he was elected to the Assembly in 2006.
Krekorian praised Bowman for developing partnerships with the city and community organizations, improving student achievement and building up a reserve fund that gave the district more stability than most others throughout the state.
“His leadership and his vision and his teamwork, really, was instrumental in turning the district around,” Krekorian said, explaining that the district was in a state of financial turmoil when Bowman took over.
One in four teachers had received layoff notices, and the district had a shortfall that topped $3 million when Bowman took the job in 2002.
Since then, Bowman has navigated the district through a recovery process that has involved the creation of committees and nurturing a reserve fund that has been instrumental in protecting Burbank Unified from making sweeping reductions this year, Krekorian said.