REGION — Three of the five board seats at San Dieguito Union High School District are up for election this November, which means major leadership changes could be on their way. Adding to the mix and momentum is the search for a new permanent superintendent, with the expectation that one will be hired in October.
Incumbent board trustees John Salazar and Amy Herman have opted not to run for re-election, while Maureen “Mo” Muir has tossed her hat back in the ring.
In a statement emailed to The Coast News, the two-term Salazar, who often votes against the board majority, explained that it’s time to give someone else a shot. He advocates for turnover, “fresh ideas” and term limits — which the district does not impose — and hopes at least one parent of a district student will get elected.
Salazar wrote, “… I have tried to fight for our students and taxpayers, but the Teachers Union controls the board. The massive 12.5% pay raise that was voted for on a 3-2 vote [with Salazar and Muir against] is why we are nearing bankruptcy. This pay raise, which was not just for teachers but administrators too, depleted our reserves. We have a revolving door of administrators who took the massive retroactive pay raise and left.
“Taxpayers and students need an independent representative who will look out for their interests as I have always strived to do.”
Running for Salazar’s Trustee Area No. 3 seat, which covers Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and Cardiff, are educator and parent Melisse C. Mossy and instructional designer and editor Rhea A. Stewart.
Muir aims to defend her Trustee Area No. 1 (mainly Encinitas north of Cardiff) seat against Amy Flicker, a commissioner and PTA member.
In a statement, Muir wrote, “… I have been a tireless advocate for our families and students, helped facilitate grants for the district’s college night, made sure concerns brought to the Board’s attention were addressed, helped co-found our district’s first Safety and Wellness Committee, and successfully pushed for more transparency to increase accountability to our community.”
Muir noted that a second term would allow her “to ensure that students’ needs are always prioritized, that innovation, best practices and success are our benchmarks, and that our board exercises fiscal prudence to meet our 21st century students’ needs.”
Herman will not be seeking re-election and did not submit a statement in time for publication as to why she’s relinquishing the Trustee Area No. 5 (Carmel Valley) spot that’s she’s held since 2010. Vying for the seat are outspoken parent Lea Wolf, whose candidacy is described at the county registrar as a businesswoman, educator and advocate; Cheryl James-Ward, listed as an educator, professor and mother; and Kristin Gibson, described as a board member of Del Mar Union School District.
Joyce Dalessandro and President Beth Hergesheimer’s seats are not up for grabs until 2020, although there is a petition circulating to recall Dalessandro. The Coast News will cover all the candidates in more detail as the election draws nearer.
In other district news, the search for a permanent superintendent continues with executive-search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates at the helm. Larry Perondi, retired superintendent of Oceanside Unified School District, has been running San Dieguito on an interim basis since July 1. Perondi replaced Eric Dill, who resigned on May 25.
The district expects to interview the final candidates in mid-September.
As part of its search process this summer, Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates conducted a “State of the District” analysis based on feedback from administrators and other staff, parents, students and community members. From polling 241 individuals, the firm found the following percentages of people strongly agreed or agreed with these statements, which were part of a survey:
- 53% “The district is heading in the right direction.”
- 61% “District schools are safe.”
- 78% “Students are on track to be college and career ready.”
- 47% “Teachers personalize instructional strategies to address individual learning needs, special education and gifted.”
- 81% “The district has high standards for student performance.”
- 51% “The district is fiscally responsible.”
- 45% “There is transparent communication from the District.”
In a nod to increasing transparency, the last board meeting on Aug. 16 was video recorded. The board voted unanimously to post that video, as well as all future ones, online within 72 business hours. In May, the board voted 3-2, with Hergesheimer and Dalessandro opposed, to install a camera for the purpose of recording board meetings and then sharing the footage with the public.
Students head back to class for the start of the new school year on Tuesday, Aug. 28.