San Dieguito Union High School board hopefuls discuss budget

San Dieguito Union High School District candidates Andrew Brown, Amy Herman, John Salazar, Sandra Timmons and Barbara Switzer Groth. Photo: Karen Billing
San Dieguito Union High School District candidates Andrew Brown, Amy Herman, John Salazar, Sandra Timmons and Barbara Switzer Groth. Photo: Karen Billing

Six compete for three seats in San Dieguito Union district

By Karen Billing

Staff Writer

In one of the more competitive races on the Nov. 2 ballot, the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) has six candidates vying for three open seats. To help voters make an informed decision, the League of Women Voters held a candidate forum on Oct. 13 at Torrey Pines High School. Candidates Barbara Switzer Groth (incumbent), Amy Herman, Sandra Timmons, John Salazar and Andrew Brown participated in the forum. Candidate Rick Shea did not attend the forum because he was out of the country.

The forum

About 30 people were in attendance at the forum and submitted questions for the candidates. The tight and challenging budget was brought up as one of the biggest issues the incoming board members will face and they were asked how they would address making cuts.

Timmons said that cuts need to be made as far away from the classroom as possible and every program, be it football or band, needs to be considered equally. She said that, overall, the district has been doing a good job in trimming wherever possible without impacting students.

“There’s no fat to cut, guys,” she said. “You can’t get blood from a turnip.”

Groth agreed with her assessment and said they know the situation is going to be “horrible” but that the cuts will continue to be a shared pain.

Herman said as they go through the process of cuts, programs need to be kept in place that offer students the best education and keep them safe.

“Each school has to look at their priorities and keep funding activities that engage all students,” Herman said.

Salazar said it’s a board member’s job to make tough cuts and “stand up to the heat.” He said that the district would have to be creative and continue to look for ways to bring in money, such as advertising.

‘The unfortunate reality is that advertising is more and more prevalent in our lives and schools may have to take advantage of that. I’m open to it,” Salazar said. “We have to look at reality and the reality is we need money. But it has to be tasteful.”

Brown said he doesn’t mind advertising on playing fields or scoreboards but he “doesn’t want it all over the place.”

Timmons said they have to be careful with advertising because school is not a voluntary process and the children have to be there.

“We have to be careful about selling them short.” Timmons said. “More money is always lovely but our students’ success is what’s important.”

Groth said they have approved advertisements on fields but they all face inward. The people who see them are attending events voluntarily. She said that she does not want to see product placement all over campuses.

The candidates were asked about political endorsements and their place in school board elections as the Republican Party is endorsing Salazar and Brown.

Groth said that it’s important for board members to remain non-partisan so that they can act without an agenda.

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