Del Mar Union School District creates budget task force

The Del Mar Union School District Board of Trustees is forming a financial task force to come up with short- and long-term cost-saving solutions for the district.

With the district facing what Superintendent Sharon McClain said could be more than a $2.5 million shortage, the task force will provide input on possible cuts that could be made during the current school year, as well as future school years.

The task force will include one appointee made by each of the five board trustees, one appointee from all eight schools’ PTAs, one principal and one appointee each from the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation, classified employees association and the district office cabinet.

The group will develop a plan and present it to the superintendent, who will then present it to the board.

“I don’t think (this assignment) will be as arduous as the 7-11 Committee’s, but the (task force) will meet more than twice,” Trustee Doug Perkins said. “We’ll see how the community reacts.”

School board members say they hope the task force’s suggestions will help them with budget decisions that need to be made by March 15.

McClain initially proposed a 20-person group that would include four teachers, four classified staff members, two principals, two PTA presidents, two foundation members, two from the superintendent’s cabinet, two board members, two community members and a facilitator.

But trustees did not support her recommendation, instead preferring Perkins’ idea, which included more community members. During public comment, parents also asked that the task force involve more community members.

“The makeup is of crucial importance,” Sage Canyon parent Janet Handzell said. "(The task force) needs to represent the population.”

A letter from parent Susan Miller read into the record said that putting too many district employees on the task force might be a conflict of interest as they might not want to slash their own budgets. She wrote that the task force could tap into the community’s resources of “many sharp business minds.”

Del Mar Hills parent Vanessa Black said: “Put together the right way, it can be one of the most powerful things we’ve had in a long time. They can find out what needs to be done to make the district stronger.”

At the superintendent’s urging, the board added a principal and classified employee representation.

“There are 250 classified employees who would not be represented,” McClain said. “I think there should be a classified employee on (the task force).”