Del Mar school board addresses ‘perceived lack of confidence’

By Matt Liebowitz

Staff Writer

Del Mar Union School District board of trustees discussed what they called the community’s “perceived lack of confidence” in the district’s goals and objectives at a special meeting on Dec. 2.

The meeting began with input from several audience members who voiced frustration with what they believe is the board’s stagnant, misguided approach regarding the time-sensitive need to relocate the district office and maintenance operations. The school district must find a new home for its office, currently located at 225 9th Street in Del Mar, by May 2011.

“I’m concerned,” said Amy Caterina, a Del Mar Hills Academy parent and member of the Save Our Del Mar Schools committee (SOS), a group formed to lobby against the district closing any school to save money. “I feel we have become so fractured, we’re not functioning.”

“I voted for those of you who ran on a platform of fiscal responsibly,” Caterina said. “I regret my vote, and I wish I could have it back.”

Liz Shopes, an SOS member and Hills parent, backed Caterina.

“There’s a lack of solid information on the cost savings of closing or restructuring a school,” she said. “We need a school board and an administration that provides real facts and honest figures. We need a board that can make strategic decisions that will bring us out of the angry mosh pit this has become.”

Karen Holty, Ocean Air School administrative assistant, pared her argument against the board to a single pointed question, calling the board out on not having presented any options yet regarding either school closure or purchasing new property.

“What are your goals?” she asked. “What goals have you presented to us?”

Board member Annette Easton was the first to respond.

“Ultimately I know we all want the same things,” she told the audience. “We want an excelling school district and to get out of this muck we’re in. It’s not healthy for our children or anyone in this community.

“We need to look and see what changes we need to make to correct the rumors and misinformation that’s out there,” she added. “We need to look at the big picture to ensure the district is moving in the direction that we want.”

“We’re seeing the reaping of what we’ve sown,” board member Comischell Rodriguez said. “It’s sad to continue to see things happen in our district without some kind of solution we’re offering as a board. My concern is that we don’t have goals and objectives in place.”

Superintendent Sharon McClain called for the board to discuss its strategic plan at its next meeting. “If there’s something we’re not doing right, then we need to correct that,” she said.