Trustees speed up hiring schedule on Hills principal


Questions remain over school’s future

Addressing parent and staff concerns over the lack of a permanent principal at Del Mar Hills Academy, school board trustees on Oct. 1, approved an aggressive schedule for the naming of a new principal to replace acting principal Vince Jewell.

“This is a critical management decision,” said Del Mar Hills PTA President Kerry Traylor before the school board’s approval. “We see no reason our 333 students can’t have the permanent leadership that every other school in the district has.”

Superintendent Sharon McClain agreed.

“I’m recommending we name a fulltime principal now,” said McClain. “We need stability and someone whose sole focus is Del Mar Hills. We’ve heard that clearly from parents.”

The approved hiring timeline includes interviews for the position scheduled for next week with a new principal hopefully named by Oct. 22.

Traylor also asked the board to address rumors that district offices might be moved to either Del Mar Hills or nearby Del Mar Heights School and how that might affect potential principal candidates for Del Mar Hills.

“What implication does this have for the school and the quality of candidates?” asked Traylor. ‘How will you handle those questions?”

“We have to immediately meet the needs of this community,” responded McClain. “All of these other decisions are in the future.”

District officials continue to fend off rumors concerning the viability of the two schools, saying those discussions will be part of future strategic planning and budget discussions.

Budget concerns prompted the temporary hire last week of a new financial advisor for the district and speculation has been widespread in the community over the fate of the schools. The two schools sit within one mile of each other off Del Mar Heights Road, and their combined student population does not equal the number of students at several of the district’s individual Carmel Valley Schools.

Previous school board discussions have hinted at possibly combining Del Mar Hills and Del Mar Heights School into one school. One scenario has the schools sharing a principal with kindergarten through third grade classes being held at one school, and fourth through sixth grade classes being held at the other.

When asked about the issue shortly before the start of last week’s meeting, McClain said all options remain on the table including a possible closure of one of the two schools.

Leaving soon

Del Mar Hills has been without a permanent principal since August, when longtime principal Laurie Francis announced she was leaving to assume the same position at Carmel Valley Middle School. Jewell, the former superintendent of the Cardiff School District, has been acting as temporary principal for the school, but he announced last week that he would stay only until the district’s Thanksgiving break.

The district has been passively recruiting for a new principal through ads in education trade papers both in print and online. But according to Facilities Director Rodger Smith, the district has so far only been collecting resumes - 11 in total.

McClain said that if the appropriate principal were not located within the next month, another interim principal would have to be named.

“If we don’t find a good candidate that fits this site, we will have to go out and find another one,” she said. “I’m not willing to take someone who is not perfect.”