This past Thursday evening proved to be one of the longer school board meeting of the school year; pushing over 4 hours.
There has been a lot of interest on the following topics so we wanted to provide a brief recap of what our team heard:
Tina Douglas gave an update on the Athletic Transportation Crisis. The district has 4 buses available for afternoon athletic transportation. Obviously, this is not enough to transport all of the students to and from competitions. So, in addition to the district’s buses, the district contracts with outside vendors for this service.
Unfortunately, in January 2018, two (2) local bus companies shut down their operations leaving the district with only one vendor (2 bus companies recently merged) and creating a shortage of busses available for use. The transportation department is working diligently to remedy this situation including contracting with new vendors. Hopefully, this problem will be resolved quickly. In the meantime, the district has waived their transportation policies to allow students, parents and carpools to transport students to their competitions.
Lastly, the board discussed returning transportation fees back to the foundations/parents since the District is unable to provide transportation at this time.
Side note: As we have covered in the past, the District is not allowed to charge fees for athletic transportation that is associated with School Sponsored Activities (CIF Sports). At the Watchdog, we would like to see changes around how athletic budgets are developed, funded and communicated to the public so we can support our Students in a meaningful way.
There was a lot of comments and discussions about student safety. Parents, students, foundations, law enforcement, Mark Miller, Tina Douglas and Eric Dill commented on different aspects of student safety.
One Student comment caught our attention. Her comment was about a struggling friend. The Student stated that she reached out to Superintendent Dill twice and he never responded to her. She would like to have additional student education regarding student wellness issues, possibly as a part of the required health class. Later in the meeting, community members noticed that Dill turned to her in the audience and said he had forwarded the email to the Principal to handle.
Side Note: There are many complaints that communications sent to Superintendent Dill are not answered or acknowledged. A true leader who puts Student’s first would have, at a minimum, let her know he was in receipt of her correspondence and has forwarded it to the Principal for response. The second failure occurred when he did not absorb his lack of judgement as a leader and continued the failure by pushing blame for the poor behavior on to his staff (the Principal). (This dialog will be able to be heard next month when the audio of the meeting is posted at roughly 2 hours into the meeting.)
Tina Douglas informed us that the district has received a very thorough report on how to make the school sites safer. The most important change will be behavior. For instance, ALL visitors to the school campus must sign in at the front office and wear a badge while on campus. In addition to behavioral changes, the district is looking to add additional fencing to SDA and TP as these are the most open campuses. The fencing project will be discussed at the next several board meetings as the district moves forward on these items. Work will be completed during the summer. In addition, gates, doors, etc. will be repaired and/or replaced as needed.
It was noted during the Board meeting that Torrey Pines High School will act as the beta site for cameras before they outfit other schools. Additionally, it was stated that TPHS foundation has generously offered to provide financial support to the district in adding cameras to Torrey Pines High School.
Board member, Maureen Muir, asked that the Board discuss at the next board meeting having a Community Resource Officer at each high school.
It was confirmed that Naviance is going away District Wide. But, it is going to be replaced with Californiacolleges.edu. After rigorous review and study, the district believes this program to be a better solution for the needs of our District.
The district made it clear that the PSAT is optional and each site can make an independent decision on whether to offer the test, whom to offer the test and when to offer the test. If the test is offered during the school day, then the school can ask for a donation. If the school site offers the test on a weekend, then the school can charge a mandatory fee. If you would like the PSAT at your school site next year, contact your principal, site council, school board, and the foundations and let them know so this can be included in next year’s budget.
Side Note: There is continued optimism about the financial health of the District by District Staff. We have prepared a graphic (Table 1) that shows the comparison of projected vs. actual expenditures (over/under) revenue (education speak for net income). Over the past 7 years, the district budgets a worst case scenario and ends the year in a much better position. District staff is optimistic that this year will end much better than current projected deficit of $8.3 million.