Del Mar school board strikes a blow against kids

By Marsha Sutton

Marsha Sutton

Trustees for the Del Mar Union School District voted last week to cancel a fully funded Spanish program that was up and running, loved by students, and taught by a popular teacher they threw out the door mid-year. Kids first, huh?

The vote was 4 to 1. At least trustee Doug Perkins, the lone dissenter, had the sense to realize that cutting a successful program halfway into the school year was clearly a bad move.

But the others … Are they so caught up in legal wrangling and policy guidelines that they can’t see the forest for the trees?

According to DMUSD superintendent Jim Peabody, the school board had the power to sustain the Spanish program at Del Mar Heights School for the rest of the year. Board members only had to allow the Heights to continue to employ Spanish teacher Mary Zobell, whose contract was set to expire on Jan. 20.

“The board has the option if they so choose … to hire Mary as a temporary employee through the end of the year and continue the program,” Peabody said in an interview before the Jan. 18 board meeting.

Instead, four board members, relying on legal technicalities and a narrow interpretation of arbitrary district guidelines, resorted to a disgraceful display of complete disregard for student interests.

The item on the agenda listed Zobell as one of six contractor agreements needing board approval. “The superintendent recommends board approval/ratification of site performance agreements,” read the summary for all six.

Peabody acknowledged that her employment was technically out of compliance with labor laws, and that he mistakenly approved her contract for the first half of this year. Even so, he appeared to support the continuation of the Spanish program, in both his written recommendation to the board and in his interview with me.

“They were just trying to be creative and I understand that,” said Peabody of the Heights, calling the school’s action an “error of exuberance.”
Heights principal Wendy Wardlow appreciated Peabody’s support for her school’s efforts to find creative ways to offer special programming. Although she acknowledged that the arrangement was problematic and said it was an inadvertent mistake, she held out hope that the school board would find a way to approve the agreement, perhaps as a pilot program as other schools in the district have.

But trustees rejected the contract, even though they had the authority to let it continue.

The issue, as Peabody explained, concerned Zobell’s history with the district as a former employee, as well as the role of the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation in funding salaries for teachers of non-core, Extended Studies Curriculum subjects.

Zobell’s salary this year was funded by the Heights PTA through private donations directly to the school. Normally, PTAs fund programs, not salaries. The item before the board Jan. 18 was to approve $15,000 for Zobell for the period of Jan. 23 through the end of the school year. This was the second half of a one-year contract, one that classified her as an independent contractor.

Zobell taught Spanish during regular school hours at Del Mar Heights as a temporary employee of the district in 2009-2010, according to Peabody, which he said makes her ineligible to work as an independent contractor by the same employer in the future.

Last school year, 2010-2011, Spanish was taught as an after-school program rather than during the school day.

This year, the Heights wanted to integrate Spanish back into regular school hours, so all children could benefit from the language instruction, not just those who paid for after-school enrichment. So the school’s PTA provided funds to hire Zobell as an independent contractor.

“They were just trying to add to the kids’ programs,” Peabody said. “They really wanted to get the program up and running again. But we can’t be out of compliance on the labor code.”

Professional expert
The original performance agreement was approved at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, to run through Jan. 20, 2012. Peabody said he approved it, but added, “I probably should have paid closer attention.”

To continue Zobell’s employment through the end of the school year, the Heights submitted an item for the Jan. board meeting to extend her contract. It is this extension that the board denied.

Peabody was made aware of the problem by parent Beth Westburg, a Del Mar Hills School parent who raised the issue during public comment at the November 2011 school board meeting after noticing a donation on the agenda of $20,000 for the Heights for a professional expert. “So I just asked what that was,” she said.

After learning it was for a Spanish program instructor, Westburg said she asked some follow-up questions of the district, “because we wanted to see what they were doing so we could copy it.” Others have challenged that contention, saying the Heights has been specifically targeted and repeatedly harassed.

“It looks like they did the right thing,” Westburg said of the vote. “I feel bad for the parents, but I feel bad for all parents in the district. We’re all losing ESC.”

Although the contract was out of compliance with labor codes, Peabody said the district could have resolved the problem by hiring Zobell as an employee. But the board needed to weigh in on this, he said, because employees teaching non-core subjects like ESC are funded by the foundation and not normally by private donations directly to schools through the PTA.

The frustration for parents at the Heights is that many feel their school’s contribution to the foundation exceeds the resources they receive in return, since the money raised for the DMSEF is distributed to the district’s eight schools based more upon enrollment numbers than per-school contributions.

“The Heights feels they raise more money than they get back,” Peabody said. “They’re right. They get about 80 percent back. I understand their position.”

But he said with district-wide fundraising the money is spread around. “It is not a dollar-for-dollar exchange,” he said. “Some schools make out better than other schools on what they get back.”

Children come second
Forcing parents to donate to a foundation that distributes money unevenly, on programs for other schools, is an unfair policy in need of change.

Making matters worse, parents are being coerced into giving money to the foundation for teachers’ salaries, when the school board betrayed parents’ trust by doling out to employees, in individual $1,000 bonuses, about $500,000 the district received last year in Federal Education Jobs Fund money.

While other districts used the Jobs Fund money to save temporary teachers’ jobs or to offset the impact of statewide budget cuts to the general fund, Del Mar, alone among local school districts, gave all employees cash.

Had the DMUSD contributed the money to support the ESC program, that $500,000 could have saved the Spanish program and many others. It’s galling for the board to tell parents to give money to the foundation for ESC teachers, when the district won’t even support the ESC program with free money from the feds.

Denying a fully-funded program of enormous value for students — at a time when intensified demand for foreign language instruction for young pupils is at an all-time high — is not just idiotic, it’s shameful.

But this is about more than cutting a Spanish program. Bashing Del Mar Heights and shuttering innovative programs that parent and staff ingenuity have put in place has become jolly sport for far too many in this district.

This recent debacle seems more like a punitive measure meant to send the message that independent-minded schools do not dare step out of line.

Lingering hostility toward Heights programs, policies and personnel translates into suspicion and resentment over every original idea Wardlow and her team might develop.

The Heights raises more than its share of money for the foundation, has an inventive principal who collaborates with staff to develop creative programs that sometimes drift outside standard operating procedures, and engages actively involved parents who show fierce loyalty toward the school, admiration for its dedicated teachers and zeal for innovation in learning.

People are punished for this kind of behavior in highly politicized bureaucracies like public education, not rewarded.

Although they are no longer learning Spanish, there’s one lesson kids can comprehend quite well: The best interests of children will come in second every time to a system that supports blind allegiance to petty positions and narrow-minded attitudes.

Marsha Sutton can be reached at SuttComm@san.rr.com.

Related posts:

  1. Spanish program ends at Del Mar Heights school after board vote
  2. Fundraising going strong in Del Mar Union School District
  3. Del Mar school district board discusses emergency preparedness plan
  4. Del Mar Union School District trustees extend Peabody’s contract
  5. Education fund’s mission hasn’t changed

Short URL: http://www.delmartimes.net/?p=30979

Posted by Staff on Jan 26, 2012. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, Education Matters. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

42 Comments for “Del Mar school board strikes a blow against kids”

  1. Community member

    With this article, dear Marsha has removed all doubt of her bias in our little school district. Certainly her every piece will need to be understood as being focused through this lens.

  2. abc

    Every time the article says "children" add "Del Mar Heights". Every time it says "students" add "Del Mar Heights." Every time it says "school" add "Del Mar Heights." Ditto "parents." You get the idea. it will become perfectly clear why the board voted the way it did. They have to consider ALL the children, something that Sutton does not even mention.

    • CAtherine

      This response makes me feel sad – why can't we as parents support a new program in one school – who knows… maybe next year Del Mar Hills will have the support as well. Why such envy? Is it because Del Mar Hills enrollment is low? because everyone would rather go to Del Mar Heights?

  3. Staff

    With this article, dear Marsha has removed all doubt of her bias in our little school district. Certainly her every piece will need to be understood as being focused through this lens.
    — Community member

  4. hilltopper

    sorry abc – have to disagree – this business about ALL the children is a red herring.

    It is NOT necessary, IMHO, to consider ALL the children in EVERY situation. This position of yours that we must make all children in all schools perfectly equal in resources is not only unrealistic, it smacks of the worst kind of centralized control and a slavish, bureaucratic adherence to those regulations that advance the private agendas, removing from the local schools any incentive to innovate, create, and otherwise provide, as the Heights has been doing for years, a superior educational program.

    Instead of lowering the standards of the district by degrading the Heights program, why not try to raise the standards of the district by emulating their successes?

    But as I say, this business of ALL the children is just a red herring. It has nothing to do with students or Spanish or education and everything to do with petty small town politics – an years old effort by a small but persistent group to undermine and sabotage the Heights programs.

    Sutton is one of the few voices in this community who is willing to call a spade a spade, to say that the emperor has no clothes, to endure the personal attacks that accrue to this kind of reportage, to stand in favor of common sense and against hypocrisy and deception.

    Oh but I suppose I have to agree with you ABC in one sense – ALL the children should sometimes be considered; because ALL the children are diminished by this kind of rancorous nonsense. And ALL the children deserve better of those who should be their role models.

  5. Hilltopper

    Dear Staff (I assume not Staff at the Heights) – accusations of bias is the last and poorest defense you could forward in opposition to the narrative presented by Sutton. It is a shotgun approach – a broad accusation unsupported by specifics – an attempt to discredit the truth of what was written by attacking the character of the writer. Is an ad hominem attack the best argument that can be fielded against this well researched articulate piece?

    BTW, bear in mind, STAFF, that it is, after all, an opinion piece. She is not required by any journalistic standard to be unbiased, or uncritical. Quite the contrary, she is required to expose and be critical of what she sees as faults, flaws, bad policies and bad decisions – and has been doing so to great effect to the benefit of this community for well over a decade.

    You are both, you and Sutton, entitled to your own opinions. Hers, agree or not, was well written, and her thesis well supported. Your was a brief, if inarticulate, attack on her character and integrity.

    BANG! Messenger shot. The message survives unblemished.

    • Max

      Haha bravo! But good luck convincing people that "bias" is allowed to exist in an editorial. Loaded language is a great offense. Reason seems to be a poor defense.

  6. Educator

    Bravo! Marsha Sutton is right on target. The parents of the other schools could support programs if they wanted. The school gave BONUSES with money other districts used to support ESC and innovative programs. Is the best we can do really just meet the lowest common denominator of the State "standards"? The Heights paid for and created a language program, which should be at every school, and instead of being applauded they get shot down? Bizzarre. How can the district ever get great principals if it only rewards the robotic uncreative ones? How can we have the kind of programs that would be the educational envy of other districts?

  7. DMUSD parent

    This was a carefully planned program that was accepted by the board as an after school program. When it became clear that the program was taking place during school by a person previously employed by the school district as a teacher and paid for by site based funding and not the the DMSEF this was against rules set in place (and known by both Sutton and the principal.) The Heights parents have been encouraged to not pay their share into the DMSEF and instead pay extra monies to their PTA for site based funding – which the DMUSD is trying to get away from to create equality in their schools programs.
    The principal and the teachers at the Heights knows the rules as does Katherine White. Why they chose to pursue the use of an extra teacher (for really that is what this program uses) and mislead their parents against the current rules in place is an issue that the DMUSD board should look into.

    The Heights can still have a Spanish program but it will either be after school not in addition to the programs provided with ESC funds. The DMUSD board plans on looking into whether all the schools that desire a language program can get one something through their ESC programs. The DMUSD board must consider fairness throughout the district, not just to the school(s) with the richest parents.

    Marsha's BFF with the principal of this school, her children attended this school and she lives in this school's area. I don't remember if she was at the Board meeting. She has a bias for this school which enables her to take a fair and balanced approach. I wish that Karen Billings, who was at the board meeting, had been able to write an article regarding this issue.

    DMUSD parents, please support DMSEF financially if you want music, art, science, PE, technology and hopefully, Spanish. The DMUSD board spoke clearly that these programs need to be funded through the Foundation, and equally (though not necessarily the same) throughout the district.

    • DMUSD parent

      Meant to say that Ms. Sutton has a bias towards the Heights which does not enable her to take a fair and unbiased view of Del Mar Heights School.

      For a more balanced view, please read Karen Billing's article. Glad to see Karen's was the article the Del Mar TImes chose for its front page.

    • Carmel Valley Mom

      I really like your idea:

      "Why they chose to pursue the use of an extra teacher (for really that is what this program uses) and mislead their parents against the current rules in place is an issue that the DMUSD board should look into."

      And thank you for letting us all know about Marsha's relationship with Wardlow. Now I see her article in totally different light. For heavens' sake, we are a public school district. Complaining about the bureaucracy, which is notoriously cumbersome in the state of California, is like complaining that it rains too much in Seattle. Sure, one needs not accept all the consequences of this bureaucracy, but fighting it takes a lot of time, patience, and research into the laws. Why Wardlow decided not to play by the rules is the really interesting question here. Thank you for bringing it up.

  8. disappointed parent

    I sat in the recent board meeting and was ashamed and embarrassed for the parents who applauded when the decision was made to end the spanish program. If we are all supposed to be working toward the same goal of educating ALL of our children, then why put so much negative energy into ending a pilot program at one school which could have been implemented in all schools eventually. Ms. Sutton was right on with her piece on stopping the spanish program. She may seem biased toward the Heights, but I was in the meeting and there was a considerable amount of animosity in that board meeting against the Heights, and for what – because the school wanted to create a spanish program!
    I have always donated the requested amount to DMUSD and paid extra to have my children learn spanish after school. I have always been fully in support of sharing the money amongst all school from the DMUSD fund. After witnessing the negative energies of other parents in this district, I have no doubt that they are not the least bit interested in the well being of any children but their own. I also felt let down by the board, and offended by their flippant comments, like 'we get it – spanish is 'muy bueno'. Ever since coming out of that meeting, I have been disappointed in our board and many of the parents who worked to end this program. I no longer have interest in donating to DMSEF, and I doubt that I shall donate any money this year.

    • DMUSD Parent

      I don't believe there was any real parent group who worked to end this program. I was in the audience at the meeting also. What I applauded was the support of the Foundation as the tool for such programs. If the Heights wants to spend their ESC funds on Spanish instead of say, PE or music instruction, they should be allowed to do so. What should be discouraged is say efforts by a school to send a letter asking parents to only send to the DMSEF half the amount they ask for and at the same time send a letter from the PTA asking for the other half in order to pay for a special program/teacher.

      Certain actions by the Del Mar Heights DMSEF representatives, it's PTA president, certain parents at the school, and it's principal have created a feeling from parents from the other schools in the district that the Heights believes itself to deserve more than the other schools and not play by the same rules. There was no organized effort against the Heights and there was no group of parents who worked to end this program.

      • Community member

        Agreed. The idea that a school would make a concerted effort to undercut the DMSEF in favor of money for their own students was an unfortunate and offensive choice.

        I also agree that each school site should be able to determine what they want to put their ESC money into. If the Heights wants to have Spanish instead of technology, for example… I say, let them. Perhaps this part of the ESC policy should be revisited so that schools can customize as they see fit.

        However, going rogue and circumventing established policy while simultaneously undercutting the ESC funding for the district should not be allowed. The board did the right thing.

      • disappointed parent

        I think there are two separate issues here. One is that learning a second language should be mandatory and we should be able to work as a school district to set some kind of policy in place which would enable all children the opportunity to learn a second language. Leaving foreign language as an option from ESC fund or an after school program limits the amount of children who will get this exposure. If we want to raise culturally sensitive and forward thinking children, we must incorporate a second language into the standard curriculum.
        This leads to the second issue – how to pay for it when we are in tough financial times. Why can't we ask for changes in how PTA money is spent? Why must we continue to get bogged down in policy?

      • local parent

        Is it true a letter was sent to discourage participation in DMSEF?

        • DMUSD Mom

          Unfortunately, the answer to that question is yes. Two flyers went out from Heights. One was for a PTA donation of $400. The other was for a Foundation donation of $400, half of what the Foundation appeal is supposed to be.

        • JPDM

          Not that I ever received! I have 2 children at the Heights. This appears to be misleading information being spread around the district.

    • Concerned Parent

      Dear disappointed parent,
      The DMSEF should not be the one punished (or the kids that benefit from the DMSEF's funds) because some community member are overzealous with their own ideas of education. Our Foundation is a model for other communities across the state who would do anything to have the type of ESC program that we are able to have through generous parent contributions. By not contributing to the DMSEF, you are letting the bad guys win, and keeping our children from the level of education that they deserve. You may not have an interest in contributing to the DMSEF but you still have a parental obligation to do so.

  9. Karen B

    Dear DMUSD parent, this is Karen Billing. Just so you know I did write an article on what happened at the meeting. It was on the front page of the paper this week and is online here:
    http://www.delmartimes.net/2012/01/19/spanish-pro...

  10. DMUSD Parent

    It became clear this fall that DM Heights had a Spanish program that was extremely unusual for the following reasons:
    –the teacher was not a DMUSD employee
    –the classes were going on during the school day
    –the teacher's salary was paid for by the school's PTA

    If the program had been allowed to continue, it would mean that other schools in the district would be free to follow the same model, and they would have.

    One school might choose to hire a Chinese specialist and teach Chinese language classes during the day. One school might chose to hire a math specialist to teach advanced math classes. One school might choose to hire additional teacher's aides and effectively reduce class size. The DMSEF would have become irrelevant within a few months, and our certificated ESC teachers would have been laid off. Some schools might choose to fund art or science or music or technology or PE, but wouldn't be required to have the classes taught by certificated teachers who are employees of the DMUSD.

    This wasn't a decision about a single program. This was a decision about what the rules are in the school district. These are rules that have been in place for years and they are clearly communicated by the board and the administrators at the district office. If Marsha Sutton disagrees with these rules, that's a perfectly reasonable thing to write about in her column. That's not what this article is about, though. This article is creating drama where there wasn't much before, and stirring in additional grievances. Marsha Sutton has accused the DMUSD of having lots of drama, and has complimented the Solana Beach school district for having so little. I don't see how we can reduce the level of drama if articles with this tone continue to be published by the Carmel Valley News.

    • Hilltopper

      Sutton is not the cause of the drama. She is an effect of the drama. She is the mirror being held up to those who create and propagate this unnecessary and unproductive drama and allow the interests of the students to be subordinated to other agenda.

      To paraphrase the bard: "The fault, dear Parent, is not in the press, but in ourselves."

  11. Hilltopper

    Wow – another gratuitous shot at the messenger. Is that all you got?

    Over more than a decade, in addition to writing many article lauding the achievements of the DMUSD, Sutton has exposed incompetence, hypocrisy, poor leadership, and bad decision making in this district – much to the great benefit of this community.

    I'm sure she is well used to the ad hominem attacks that accompany any writer who runs afoul of entrenched interests and bureaucracies that would prefer to run the show without the knowledge, oversight, or participation of the public – and won't lose any sleep over them. These attacks are, of course, the hallmark of a column which has hit the target. She can wear your opprobrium as a badge of honor.

    Democracy and freedom of the press can be ever so inconvenient at times, can't it?

    You represent the politics of division and destruction. The Spanish program was destroyed. Would that half as much effort been put into finding a way to continue it – I'm sure that it would still be in place today.

    But finding solutions to make this successful program continue was not on the agenda. Finishing it off was the objective.

    And THAT is what I gathered from Sutton's column – a point which the naysayers conveniently overlook. At the end of the day the kids lost because the adults were more interested in their personal agendas than in engineering a solution for the students.

    • DMUSD Mom

      The Spanish program wasn't destroyed. Spanish just can't be taught during the day. It can be taught after school. Actually, there is Spanish everywhere here in SD! Besides, there IS no Spanish program at any of the District schools; that point was clear in 2009. Best to think in the here and now (with our current set of rules); then if you don't like the current rules, the community can come together to look at different solutions. That way change can come the right way, and the community can be peaceful. All our kids enjoy a great education here! I personally am glad my kids don't share a classroom with 35 other kids!

  12. Hills family

    I am SO appreciative of Marsha's insight and voice of common sense. We're so lucky that she has the guts to say what needs to be said. The continued clueless actions of the DMUSD administration and Board, along with the pettiness of some people in our community, are truly shameful, and the situation can only improve when someone like Marsha shines a bright light on it all. THANK YOU, Marsha for all you do, and please keep on doing it. Our community is indebted to you.

    • Happy Heights Parent

      I was a Del Mar Heights parent. My children are now both enrolled in college. During my days at 'the Heights' we always gave our ask. And, in addition to that I and several of the Del Mar Heights mom's worked tirously to put on 'very' financially successful galas that made into six digits that were split evenly among the Del Mar Schools. I can tell you that it was my experience that 80% of the volunteers were from Del Mar Heights and the remaining 20% from the rest of the elementary schools. It was VERY frustrating to work so hard year after year knowing there were able bodies from the other schools who could have help and carried their own weight. I can tell you when all was said and done it REALLY did not seem fair.

      I have the 'highest regard' for the staff of Del Mar Heights and am convinced our boys have done as well as they have because of there time with these wonderful people. I take the time each year to write the staff a 'Thank You' note. And, I take great offence to you people who damn them for wanting more for the students they ineract with and educate daily.

      Shame, Shame, Shame on YOU!!!!!

      • Get Real

        I see. So because the rest of the district doesn't want to partake of wine-and-cheese socials with the jet set, they are now not merely poor, but also lazy.

        Your attitude is a big part of what is wrong with this district.

  13. DMUSD

    Can we please go back to site specific fundraising? And we don't even live in Del Mar, I am just so tired of all petty arguments.

  14. randomheightsparent

    As a Heights parent, I must first disagree with Ms. Sutton. The Board could not vote to hire Ms. Zobell in violation of established policies for distributing Foundation funds. If that were the only method by which the Spanish program could be continued — and, whether they were right or wrong, the Board and the Heights both believed that under labor law regulations that it was — then the Board had no choice but to do what it did.

    • randomheightsparent

      (Continuing from above) That said, I feel I must address the comments above that indicate that the Heights was withholding money from the Foundation in order to fund its own programs. Nothing could be further from the truth. The parents at the Heights last year made heroic fundraising efforts, raising almost $170,000 for the Foundation. By comparison, this was about the same amount raised by Ocean Air, a very affluent school with almost twice the student population as the Heights. In spite of these efforts, at the end of last year the Heights was informed that only about $120,000 would be coming back to the Heights. There would be no music, no Spanish, and the science program would be reduced. The Heights parents immediately asked if they could give more money to the Foundation to fund these programs. They were told no. Under the guidelines of the Foundation, the Heights could not give money to the Foundation and have it come back to the school.

    • randomheightsparent

      (and continuing…) Coincidentally, at the same time that the Heights was told that it could not give money to the Foundation to get programs, one of the bigger schools in the district had a fundraising event, raising a large amount of money. When I mentioned to a parent there that this would be good for the Foundation, she laughed at me and said: "We aren't giving a penny of it to the Foundation. All our ESC programs are funded. We're using it for things at our own school."

      Rather than guarantee equity among the schools, the current Foundation guidelines actually mandate inequity: Because funds are distributed per student, the larger schools must always have about twice the number of programs as the smaller schools. Once a bigger school has what it feels is a comfortable number of ESC programs, the parents in that school will stop donating to the Foundation. The smaller schools cannot fund these programs at their own sites, because the inertia of the present system makes this a financial impossibility.

    • randomheightsparent

      (to conclude — won't let me post as one post):
      It was under these circumstances of desperation to get some substitute for the lost ESC programs to the children of the Heights that the Spanish program was designed. It was designed to be an appropriate PTA funded program, similar to assemblies, with students attending with their classroom teacher, rather than being taught as they would be by an ESC teacher. Obviously, this wasn't enough, and more needed to be done to distinguish this program from an ESC program.

      However, the line between what is and is not a proper PTA funded program was another frustrating aspect of the Board meeting. The Board members could not articulate what is required to make a program fall on the proper side of the line, going instead with a Justice Stewart "I know it when I see it" approach. This is unacceptable. Parents and schools need to know with certainty that programs they establish will be permitted to continue throughout the school year. Because, at the end of the day, a second grader crying on a Monday morning when she realizes that Spanish will no longer be part of her Mondays is simply unfair.

      • randomheightsparent

        Not lashing out — she's a good friend, and she laughed at the idea that her school would give money to the Foundation when it didn't need to in order to have its ESC programs funded. This is reality, and if you find it inflammatory then you should work to change this reality. You speak of all the schools having the same things, but this is not and can never be the situation under the current distribution system. The bigger schools will always have more programs, and the smaller schools are prohibitted from funding these programs on their own.

        What was particularly frustrating at the last Board meeting was the Board members' lack of awareness of the way funds are distributed among the schools. One of the Board members from a larger school in the district commented "well we still have instruments and band." No, "we" don't. You do. Schools like the Heights will never have music, instrument instruction, or band under the current system.

        No one objects to giving more than their share. What is frustrating is being told that no matter how much you give, there is simply no way to have what other schools have.

        • DMUSD parent

          The Heights could have music and instrument instruction. The principal chooses what the ESC money goes toward. You could easily have had music this year.

          • Parent

            The Board needs to put this on the agenda and explain the rules and how it all works. I know I don't understand it. I would love to have it explained once again and re-evaluated to see if it is in fact equality or if it is unfair. How does one get an item on the agenda? Who sets the agenda?

          • randomheightsparent

            We could only have music if we gave up either art or PE. There was not funding for three positions, and tough choices had to be made. What did your school choose?

          • Community member

            My school kept each of these, but allocated them differently based on grade level. Kindergarteners get much less ESC than 6th graders. I am not privvy to the the details of the principal's discussions, but I get the feeling there is more than one way to skin the cat.

    • Hilltopper

      The Board had a choice. They did not have the choice of continuing the program under the current funding conditions, but – according to Superintendent Peabody – they did have the option of continuing the program under different funding.

      They chose to discontinue it. The unanswered question is – why?

  15. Hilltopper

    According to superintendent Peabody there were legal ways to fund this program and keep it intact for the students.

    Apparently the way it was funded was not proper – although it apparently had the oversight and blessing of the Superintendent.

    The Board had two options:

    1) Adopt the modifications referred to by Peabody to make the program street legal (kids win)
    2) punish the school for whatever it did wrong, and scuttle the program (kids lose)

    Why they chose the latter course is explicable only if you assume some political force which is more intent on its years long campaign of punishing the Heights than it is on providing the students with foreign language education.

  16. Parent

    “The Heights feels they raise more money than they get back,” Peabody said. “They’re right. They get about 80 percent back. I understand their position.”

    So, what do the other schools get? Why do we only know the about the Heights? Surely, they aren't the only ones who get an uneven distribution. They started the conversation, now let's talk.

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    Few people may know that Graves’ disease is one of the most common autoimmune diseases afflicting Americans today. Fewer still may know that the only national non-profit dedicated to its patients is headquartered in Rancho Santa Fe. The Graves’ Disease and Thyroid Foundation, co-chaired by Rancho Santa Fe residents Kathleen Bell Flynn and Steve Flynn, has be […]
  • Candidates seek election to three Rancho Santa Fe special district boards
    Seats on the boards of directors of three special districts that provide such services as water, fire protection, sewage treatment and landscape maintenance are on the ballot in the Nov. 4 election. The three special districts are the Santa Fe Irrigation District, the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District and the Rancho Santa Fe Community Services Distric […]