Meet the Candidates in San Dieguito’s Area 3

SDUHSD candidates Sheila King and Jane Lea Smith.
(Karen Billing)

The San Dieguito Union High School District’s Area 3 seat represents the communities of Solana Beach, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Cardiff and Encinitas. Candidates Daniel Hale, Sheila King and Jane Lea Smith will seek election this November. Daniel Hale could not be reached to participate.

Meet the candidates (in alphabetical order), in their own words:

Sheila King
(Copyright of Sheila King)

Sheila King
My name is Sheila King. I am running for San Dieguito Union High School District, School Board, Area 3. I am a mom of three teenage boys; one who graduated from La Costa Canyon High School and two that are still in the district. I am a small business owner and resident of Encinitas for over 20 years. I’m the wife of a Navy Veteran ER physician. I am a child and veteran advocate, having volunteered at the Juvenile Detention Center, and VA Hospital. I am running as independent candidate, which means I am not funded by unions or special interest. I will put students, parents, and taxpayers first.

I am excited for the opportunity to serve our SDUHSD community and to represent your voice as we work together to promote policies that foster academic excellence, sound fiscal management and school environments where every student can safely thrive.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the district?
I feel the biggest issue facing our district is a lack of leadership at the board and superintendent level. School board meetings have become political battlegrounds, this is happening across the country, not just in our district. We need to get the politics off our school board and focus on educating our children in the best way possible.

It goes without saying, we must prioritize fiscal management.

We know that students have experienced learning loss during the pandemic. We need to provide academic resources to every student. We need to remain focused on mental health, it is essential that we provide resources for at-risk students. This goes hand in hand with school safety. Campus safety for our students and staff must be the highest priority. We need to move forward with a solid vision, showing respect, kindness, and civility to each other.

What do you think about how the board currently functions and what can you bring to this board?
The current board seems divided, and I believe they are doing the best they can with a four-person board and an interim superintendent. I don’t expect that we will see much in the way of meaningful change until after the elections. Once this happens, we can move forward as a district and focus on bringing forth meaningful policy to address the many challenges that we are facing as a district. I look forward to the opportunity to bring non-political unity and cohesiveness to the board.

Jane Lea Smith
(Copyright of Jane Lea Smith)

Jane Lea Smith
Our family moved to Del Mar in 2008, drawn by the excellent schools in the area. Our daughter attended Earl Warren Middle School and has just graduated from Canyon Crest Academy. I currently serve as Vice President of Administration for the Canyon Crest Academy Foundation.

Professionally, I spent over 16 years as a special education teacher and school administrator. During that time, I worked with families, specialists, advocates and other educators to provide research-based individualized instruction to students with special needs. In 2010, I translated my analytical skills into a new career as a researcher. I now own my own business, supporting clients in the design of safe and effective medical devices. In my role, I work as part of a team to achieve the best outcomes for both the company and the device user.

I hold a Master’s Degree in Special Education and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the district?
Our district is suffering from a crisis of leadership. We are on our fourth superintendent in two years and have seen two board member resignations during that time. The instability created by these changes in leadership is confusing for faculty, staff and administrators, and it diminishes our ability to provide a world-class education for students.

One of a school board’s most important responsibilities is to select and hold accountable the right superintendent for the district, and this should be the first priority of our new board. To find the best leader, we need a nationwide search for an extraordinary, proven public education leader who has experience with high performing schools and understands our diverse community culture. Our next superintendent must work with the board to rebuild trust through respectful collaboration with families, students, faculty and staff. These relationships will be essential as the district works toward fiscal responsibility and transparency.

What do you think about how the board currently functions and what can you bring to this board?
A five-member board offers the promise of varied perspectives, with each trustee’s contributions providing value and ultimately yielding the best decisions. However, our current four-member board is not operating as a unified body focused on education of students. Though it’s important to respect laws, the current practice of including an attorney in all board meetings creates unnecessary costs and sows distrust about motives.

I bring leadership and teamwork experience from my roles in school administration, business management and non-profit governance. To restore professionalism, role delineation, and focus on students—and to eliminate the ever-present attorney—all trustees should complete governance training through the California School Boards Association. I also propose a series of workshops to re-center the board on our district’s public education mission and create a set of guiding principles for governing with integrity, including rules for inclusive community engagement and procedures for building consensus and prioritizing agenda items.