Del Mar school district Superintendent McClain’s proposals bumped

Del Mar Union School District Superintendent Sharon McClain’s proposed budget-saving measures were removed from the agenda of the March 10 meeting and moved to March 24 after an outcry from the public that there was not enough time to review them.

McClain’s proposals, which included boundary adjustments for Sage Canyon and using the Del Mar Hills campus as an early childhood education center, were posted online with 24 hours notice instead of the 72 hours required for a regular board meeting.

Trustee Annette Easton said she was even caught by surprise by McClain’s suggestions.

McClain said legal counsel advised her that it was appropriate to put her suggestions on the agenda.

“I was just trying to get as much information to the board in as timely a way as possible,” said McClain, noting her recommendations came from a request made by the board at its Feb. 24 meeting.

Board members said they did not remember making that request, and Easton said there was some kind of miscommunication.

Although the item was taken off the agenda, many parents were there to speak out against the superintendent’s suggestions.

McClain’s proposed boundary adjustments included moving Palacios and Meadows Del Mar from the Sage Canyon boundary to the Ashley Falls boundary to lower the enrollment at Sage Canyon for the 2010-11 school year.

Many Sage Canyon parents were opposed to the boundary change — many said they had already been through the adjustment that brought them to Sage from Ashley Falls in 2002.

Katrina DeRoche, a Sage parent and Torrey Hills aide, said splitting up the community is too high a cost for families for the savings of $136,000 that a boundary change would bring. She said there were other ways the district can save money.

“We should be looking at redistributing funds instead of children,” DeRoche said.

McClain’s proposal to combine the Hills and Heights, with the Hills becoming an early childhood education center for preschool and kindergarten, and Heights housing grades first through sixth, was one the 7-11 Committee looked at and did not consider a strong recommendation. The cost savings for the proposal would be $296,600.

Liz Shopes said she and several Del Mar Hills parents went to support McClain at that week’s Del Mar City Council meeting when she requested a lease extension for the Shores property. Shortly after the City Council meeting, she said she was disappointed to hear that McClain wanted to close the Hills and make it a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten only.

“You just couldn’t stand the thought that the Hills might not close,” Shopes said to McClain.

Hills parent Glenda Dorian said her community has been “teased and tormented” by the constant on-and-off discussions of school closure. “I feel like the red-headed stepchild — it’s completely unfair,” said Dorian, near tears. “To be told that this (school closure) is possible again is unbelievable.”