Board Majority Weakness; Hurting District.
We are lopsided in the District, and we need to get back to balance.
This starts with our Weak Board Majority. They do not know what to do or how to set the direction. They continue to look to a superintendent who has no administrative or teaching credential to tell them what they can and can’t do. (Let’s not forget that to hire the current superintendent, the board had to waive these state requirements). This Weak Board Majority has set up Dill to fail as the Superintendent. Leaders do not set their people up to fail.
The superintendent is THEIR employee who they have the responsibility for hiring under state law. That hierarchy is clearly misunderstood by the Weak Board Majority. Their continued failure to understand their duties as elected officials to provide fiduciary oversite, vision and overall supervision has created a District that has fallen victim to rudderless leadership.
And what happens when there is rudderless leadership? A 3-2 vote approves a budget with a known multi-million dollar operational deficit; the extent of which was not even clear to the 3 votes who approved.
Now we are left to wonder what is the real budget. Del Mar Times captured the meeting minutes best (the District is not nearly as transparent as it should be with public meetings) explaining the concerns about the particulars of the budget. If we look at it from a comparison perspective we will see between the 2015-2016 Unaudited Actuals to the 2017-2018 Proposed budget we have increased revenues by $2.9M and increased expenses by $14.5M.
The rudderless leadership has created a death spiral of spending in the District compounded with questionable outcomes. For example:
Lack of planning caused the district to throw 1/2 Million dollars in May to purchase “interim” housing as a permanent classroom solution for students without knowing how many students would actually use the facility. Turns out, this new facility cannot even fit the students scheduled to attend classes there in 4 weeks. This “custom designed” facility to meet the students’ needs had a locking room to “calm” the students (possibly in violation of state law), used fluorescent lighting (which many parents said causes problems for their students), hardly any windows and other poor features that failed to meet the needs of students with disabilities despite someone supposedly “customizing” it for their needs.
Whoever did this didn’t seem to know what they were doing, but someone did know what they were doing when they designed the middle school classrooms right next door with LED lighting, lots of windows, and other wonderful features. I guess someone forgot about the students with disabilities?
Poor results at LCC and Torrey Pines were pointed out at a recent Board Meeting (where majority of students with disabilities attend), asking that there be an annual goal included in the LCAP to make sure the district focused on turning things around.
This didn’t happen. The LCAP, which is the district’s annual plan to improve outcomes, was silent on what it wanted to do to help these students. It did state that it had considered the input of the special ed committee so that it looked like it cared, but almost every person on this committee stated that no one affiliated with the creation of the LCAP came to their meetings. SDUHSD has over 1,300 students or roughly 13% of its student population, but no annual plan to help turn things around at the two high schools where most of the students attend.
The LCAP states that the district’s mission is: "To Provide a World-Class Education for All Students: Engaged, Inspired, Prepared” but this doesn’t seem to apply to the educational programming for students with disabilities. So, every year, every month, parents beg to send their students elsewhere, sometimes requiring their students to be on a bus an hour a day and ripped from all their social connections and familiar neighborhood so that their children can get educated. A parent asked at a board meeting why the district isn’t doing regular audits to determine the patterns of the requests so that it can better serve the students’ needs and in the process retain the districts’ funds. What better way to stop the hemorrhaging of taxpayers’ dollars spent placing students outside the district then to actually fix the programs causing them to leave. There was a study conducted by FCMAT and even they pointed out to the District that the problem was structure and planning. Again even an outside agency indicated rudderless leadership was a cause of the demise.
Seems that our board is better at approving contracts than improving outcomes. If you look at the school board meetings so much is about approving contracts; usually contracts they don't understand. There is very little about academic progress and setting the stage for the future success of ALL students.
If the college board measures the success of a school based on the Students that take AP tests (ignoring of course how much money the parents put into tutoring to help their children pass…), then in our District roughly 70% of students take AP exams but only 80% pass. That means that only around half of the students in our district obtain actual AP credit (.7 x .8). The 20% who do not pass of the students who pay for the test get no benefit whatsoever. And yet, our Rudderless Leadership's primary focus seems to be on the 50% of students who pass the AP's because if the perception of the District is good, then the Weak Board Majority is perceived as good.
But what about the other approximately 50% of the district’s students? There is a large population of students who do not take or pass the AP tests. If we drill down into the LCAP we will see a significant number of our students are not meeting A-G requirements and further not proficient in math or english. If properly supported, these students could get great grades, and have the options to go to a CSU or another school of their choosing. A new provision in the California State Budget makes room for California Graduates that are CSU eligible to find a school in the system. This, however, requires vision and planning something we are not sure has happened since Dr. Peggy Lynch was in charge from 8/2001-4/2008. We can no longer use the recession as an excuse for not planning.
Our Weak Board Majority should be ashamed that their rudderless leadership continues to allow students to fail year after year in our student subgroups; our students fail to get diplomas, to get a CSU opportunity. All due to our Rudderless Leadership Weak Board Majority caring more about their stature in a fake reality then about the Students in our Community.
The Parents and Voters in our Community have entrusted you with the responsibility to lead our Community and our District to successful outcomes for ALL our students. Trust us when we say, we live in a community where ALL our students can have a high school diploma and can be CSU eligible and beyond. The Rudderless Leadership is causing a different effect. 2017-2018 is time to get back to what matters and that is the Students. It is time for the Weak Board Majority to either step up or step down.