Del Mar Union School board authorizes district plan

Del Mar Union School District trustees on Jan. 27 approved a 2009-2010 Strategic Plan that details the way the district works — and can continue to work — to uphold its mission.

Developed by district office employees, individual school principals, staff and parents, the plan aims to keep the district on track to provide a “rigorous, inspiring and nurturing education program that is continually evolving to develop well-rounded individuals who embrace learning for life and are prepared to meet the challenges of the future.”

The document includes information on enrollment, demographics, district resources, evaluation and achievement factors, such as California Standards Testing and Academic Performance Index scores.

“We always had information in 20 different places so it’s nice to have it all in one place,” said Superintendent Sharon McClain, noting the board-approved version will be available online at

The plan also includes a section on appraisals of district functions with goals and recommended actions on curriculum, school climate, effective relationships with school partners and effective use of financial resources.

McClain said the plan creates a “plumb (vertical) line” of what an exemplary program would look like for district comparison.

The final report, with its recommendations on how the district can meet that line, was developed over the last few months.

“All the teachers participated and really appreciated being able to give their input,” said Torrey Hills Principal Susan Paul.

Sage Canyon Principal Peg LaRose said that it was exciting to see 56 people in the school’s multi-purpose room contributing their ideas. She said when compared to what the other district schools had come up with, she realized that “we’re a whole lot more alike than we’re different.”

In that way, she said, the plan really represents a united vision for the district.

Board president Comischell Rodriguez agreed.

“It’s very cool how all the ideas came together,” she said.

Trustees’ questions about the plan focused mainly on recommendations for financial resources.

Trustee Steven McDowell did not like the use of the word “should” in the suggestion that the district “should maintain the available reserves recommended by the School Services of California for basic aid school districts.”

The recommended reserve level is the property tax amount in addition to the revenue limit state guarantee paid by the state per student.

At McDowell’s request, the language was changed to: “The district will continue to explore maintaining available reserves ...” instead of “should.”

One recommendation that garnered board interest was that the district explore budgeting “in arrears,” meaning the process of balancing the budget to the current, not projected funding level.

Any excess funds received in the current year are carried forward to the following year and are accounted for as available funds for program expansion or deficit reduction.