Four candidates are vying for two open seats on the San Dieguito Union High School District Board of Trustees in the Nov. 6 election: Joyce Dalessandro (incumbent), Beth Gergesheimer (incumbent), Graham Ledger and Steve McDowell. Below are candidate photos, bios and answers to two questions given to them by this newspaper.
Name: Joyce Dalessandro
Years lived in school district:
President, San Dieguito Union High School District Board of Trustees. After completing my bachelor’s degree at Cornell University, I did my graduate work at Columbia University, receiving an M.A. specializing in curriculum development.
I have been involved in many activities during the years that I have lived in this community. I am a past president of the Torrey Pines High School Parent Association and represented parents on the district’s Strategic Planning Committee and on the Torrey Pines Site Council. I was a member of the founding team for the TPHS Foundation and served as the vice president for business fundraising. I have also served as treasurer of both Grad Nite and Dollars for Scholars, as well as actively participating in and heading many other committees and projects.
In 1994, I was selected by Redbook Magazine as “Volunteer of the Year” for my work at Torrey Pines High School. I was first elected to the San Dieguito Union High School District Board of Trustees in 1996 and am completing my fourth term. I currently serve as board president. I have completed leadership training by the California School Boards Association to earn my Master’s in Boardsmanship and Master’s of Governance. As a member of the board I have been involved in numerous district/community liaison committees, advisory committees, and task forces.
1.) What do you think are the biggest issues facing the school district?
Without question, the biggest issues that the school district currently faces are budgetary. More than ever, education dollars are scarce and must be wisely allocated.
The top two issues are:
- Preserving the sound fiscal practices that have served the district so well and continuing to implement cost saving measures, district-wide, so that not a single hard-fought education dollar is wasted.
- Finding new and creative solutions within current and future budget constraints to avoid program cuts as well as championing the addition of innovative programs which further enhance learning opportunities available to our students.
2.) Do you have any suggestions as to how the biggest issues in your answer for #1 should be addressed by the board?
Our board has already established a solid foundation for dealing with the challenging fiscal issues that we have faced these past four years. We are very conservative with regard to our expenditures, maximizing our dollars in every way that we can while prudently planning for the future. We have been at the cutting edge of community partnerships, shared-use agreements, and conservation programs. We have cost-cutting measures in place in every department in every school. We manage our precious dollars through belt-tightening, streamlining, creativity, and outstanding cooperation among students, parents and parent organizations, teachers, staff, and school administrators.
We must continue with these sound principles to ensure that our district continues on solid financial footing. What we have accomplished, and will continue to pursue, include:
•Preservation of the General Fund Reserve. In spite of $38 million in cuts and lost revenue to the district over the past five years, our General Fund reserve is currently at $13 million. This has kept, and will continue to keep, our district out of the red;
•Continuation of the budget reduction process that keeps cuts as far away from the classroom as possible, while preserving a full school year and all academic programs;
•Continuation of our focus on improving student achievement, thus preserving our standing as one of the top school districts in the state and in the nation;
•Retention of the best and brightest teaching staff without resorting to massive layoffs.
It is important to both preserve and build on what our community values in our school district. We have been and will continue to be known for high academic performance, fiscal responsibility, and incredibly positive working relationships with staff and community.