Carmel Valley News

Meet the Solana Beach School District candidates

The Solana Beach School District has four candidates seeking to fill three open positions on the board. Meet the candidates in their own words (in alphabetical order):

Gaylin Allbaugh Courtesy

Gaylin Allbaugh

I am currently serving my second year as the Solana Beach Schools Foundation site co-president at Solana Highlands. In this role, I am tasked with meeting our fundraising goals so that our students can continue to benefit from our award-winning STREAM curriculum and programs. I am so proud that our school has exceeded our fundraising goals during my time as site president. I also served as PTA president at Solana Highlands for two years and have led many different programs and events at Solana Highlands and Solana Pacific over the past eight years.

In addition to my volunteer work, I have worked at Fortune 500 companies including Hewlett-Packard Company and Xerox Corp. for over 20 years as a product manager with budget accountability.

My husband and I have lived in the district since 1999. We have four children (three of which are students in our Solana Beach schools and our oldest is an 8th grader at Carmel Valley Middle School).

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the district and what do you hope to bring to the board?

The biggest issue facing the Solana Beach School Board is the tightening budget. Our district is facing rapidly increasing expenditures required to be paid to the state retirement systems in the coming year(s) as well as new areas of spending to ensure we are addressing the emotional needs of our students. We must recognize and adapt to the growing diversity across the seven school sites in our district and above all, we must continue to safeguard the academic success of our students which has made our district truly a sought-after community. There will be hard decisions to make.

The budget and policy decisions that will come before our board in the short term must be driven with an accurate sense of what is going on within our schools as well as a policy of open communication and transparency. I have been and will continue to be present in our schools, spending time with our students and talking with our families, teachers and community members to ensure that all viewpoints are fairly represented including our most valuable stakeholders - our Solana Beach students.

With my years of volunteer leadership in our schools and the relationships that I have been so fortunate to have made with the families and staff across our district, I am ideally positioned to provide a genuine and lasting connection to our school programs, curriculum, and most importantly, the students that our board is serving. 

Our children have thrived in our Solana Beach schools, and I want to make sure the legacy of our great schools perseveres for generations to come. My campaign has the support of the Solana Beach Teachers Association. For more information, visit

Vicki King Courtesy

Vicki King

I have served on the Solana Beach School Board for 12 years and am running for re-election because I am committed to our community, schools, and doing what’s best for kids.

I am an attorney, small business owner, and executive and career coach. While serving, our board has championed an innovative child nutrition program, an award-winning STREAM program, a preschool scholarship program, and social and emotional wellness programs.

During my time as board president, voters passed Measure JJ, our first ever-general obligation bond. I am grateful for the overwhelming community support for the bond, allowing for modernization of facilities.

I have made decisions during financially challenging times as well as times of abundance, always centered in what is best for kids. I am proudly endorsed by the Solana Beach Teacher’s Association, current board members, past superintendents, as well as community members.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the district and what do you hope to bring to the board?

We are fortunate to be in a district that provides an excellent educational experience for students and faces more opportunities than challenges. However, over the last few years we have experienced accelerated growth in the Pacific Highlands Ranch community, along with declining enrollment in Solana Santa Fe and our Carmel Valley schools. We are using creative and collaborative thinking and solutions to address this growth and the needs of every student and family in Pacific Highlands Ranch, as well as the decreasing student population in other communities.

If elected for another term, I will continue to prioritize small class size, nurture innovative programs, preserve fiscal responsibility and work to retain and attract our dedicated and exceptional teachers and staff. I will also bring the experience, perspective, and commitment necessary to address all issues facing our district. During the time I have served as a governing board member, parent and volunteer in our community, I have had the vision, tenacity and collaborative work style to get things done. I have gained perspective through experiences as a career coach and parent of two children who have gone through our district, middle school, high school and college and I see the foundational skills students need to be successful.

Students benefit most when they have a combination of academic knowledge and skills like critical thinking, knowing how to build relationships, and learning what it takes to be a leader. I will work to prepare our students to be our next generation leaders, and make tough decisions centered in what matters most: what is best for kids. I am committed to our community, schools and kids and would be honored to serve on the Solana Beach School Board for another term.

Julie Westcott O'Dell Courtesy

Julie Westcott O’Dell

I have practiced law full time for 18 years. I moved to Solana Beach a little more than five years ago because of the reputation of the Solana Beach School District. I am vested in this school district and want to ensure that the school district maintains the level of excellence and serves all students.

My two children attend Solana Ranch Elementary School. I have been a committed volunteer for several years, ranging from being a dedicated classroom volunteer to assisting with the yearbook. I have first-hand experience and knowledge of what occurs in the class and how our teachers and staff impact each student to teach the curriculum and support their emotional and social growth. It really does take a village.

I am proud to have the endorsement of the Solana Beach Teachers Association to be a member of the Solana Beach School Board.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the district and what do you hope to bring to the board?

As parents may be aware, the board’s contract negotiations last year with the teachers were difficult. During the process, many teachers (even some parents) felt they were not heard and, as a result, not supported. Our school district will always face challenges, including budget and fiscal issues. I believe we need to encourage parents to remain active and vested in our district and ensure our teachers feel supported.

I want to maintain and grow our district’s tradition of excellence coupled with supportive classroom environments. There are three main strengths I would bring if elected to be a member of the Solana Beach School Board: (1) effective communication; (2) fresh perspective; and (3) advocacy. I know how to listen to understand the positions of others and communicate on sensitive/difficult topics to reach resolutions.

There will always be differences in opinions. However, when there is dialogue and a relationship of trust, hard decisions can be made while maintaining the support of our teachers to best serve our children. I also bring a fresh perspective and diverse viewpoint to examine solutions for existing challenges and develop strategies for the future. This means being creative and thoughtful so that decisions and actions are made with intent. I would explore areas where we could improve and grow, but I would not make changes for the sake of change.

As a practicing attorney, I know how to advocate for our district’s interests. As just one example, protecting our funding scheme at the state level is, and will continue to be, very important. No one will advocate for our children, our district, and our community more than me.

Debra Schade Courtesy

Debra Schade

I am passionate about the Solana Beach School District. A 25-year resident of Solana Beach I have had the honor to serve on the school board for the past 16 years. I am currently board president and serve as the vice president of the San Diego County School Boards Association. I am an elected state delegate for the California School Boards Association representing school board members in San Diego and Imperial County.

I have a doctorate in public health and 35 years in education, research, technology and business. I have three sons and the fortunate experience and perspective of being a parent in our district.

I am seeking re-election because I have the passion, commitment and experience to continue to make a difference for our students. I pledge to always put CHILDREN FIRST in all decisions and work every day to maintain Solana Beach School District’s reputation of excellence.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the district and what do you hope to bring to the board?

The greatest challenge facing our district is funding. California school budgets continue to be impacted by rising special education costs and the current acceleration of employee pension obligations. The district has been able to weather these challenges due to healthy district reserves, however, we are currently deficit spending and looking at ways to control district budgets to ensure the long-term financial health of our schools. As president of the board I have been working in Sacramento for full and fair funding for California public schools.

A significant accomplishment during my tenure on the board has been leading our STREAM initiative. I was an early advocate for the importance of STEM education and recognized the significance of quality instruction for elementary students at a time when most educators were focused on the impact of STEM in high schools. Our district STREAM program inspires creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication in an ever-changing world. More importantly, our project-based learning celebrates the struggle and provides opportunities for students to apply their learning in real world applications. In 2016 our STREAM program was recognized with a California School Boards Association Golden Bell Award for instructional innovation.

My top priorities for the next four years:

· Providing an academically rigorous education, rich in diversity, meeting each child’s individual needs in a safe and supportive learning environment.

· Strengthen and develop support, communication and cooperative partnership between all stakeholders that cultivates academic achievement for ALL students.

· Continue excellent academic programs by maintaining small class sizes, recruiting and retention of outstanding staff, managing growth and voter-approved modernization projects, providing sound fiscal responsibility and transparency for long term financial health of district.

I pledge to ENGAGE, EDUCATE and INNOVATE to provide the highest quality child-centered education for ALL students. I am supported by community leaders, parents, teachers and district employees. Read more of my story at

Get the Del Mar Times in your inbox