After the "Big Kahuna," what's next?
In a district-wide email dated May 25, 2018, the San Dieguito Board president Beth Hergesheimer announced that Superintendent Dill will resign as superintendent at the end of this school year to pursue a position in the Bay Area, approximately a year and a half before his contract ends. His resignation marks the end of his controversial two-year term for which 40% of the Trustees felt he should not be hired. The superintendent is the Board's only direct hire for the district.
Dalessandro, Hergesheimer and Herman hired him without conducting a search during the optimal time recommended by the search firms interviewed, the beginning of the calendar year. Instead, the board majority approved a partial search during the fall election season, but no viable candidate was found. Instead of spending around $12,000 to conduct a full search at the beginning of 2017, they hired Dill. Poway, which did conduct a full search, had approximately 90 applicants from which to choose. Poway's Board was ultimately presented with 11 finalists. San Dieguito's Board, by comparison, chose not to conduct a full search to try to reach a board consensus and instead had only 1 candidate to consider - Dill. Dalessandro, Hergesheimer and Herman have been criticized for deeming Dill the most qualified and best superintendent candidate even though he had no teaching experience, no teaching credential and no administrative credential. The CA Education Code requires both a teaching and administrative credential, but the board majority instead decided to waive the state requirements to bring him on board to the surprise of many.
And now, over a year before his contract ends, and with a looming $8+ million projected deficit, Dill has decided to leave the district only a few months before the school year ends. Is the Board having a déjà vu moment? Roughly this same time in 2016, his predecessor Schmitt resigned.
Given that the district was not able to bridge the deficit gap last year and has another large deficit projected this year, is he abandoning a sinking ship before the numbers catch up? Already the projected budget shows that the district is not on track to keeping the recommended minimum reserve of 4.5%.
Will the Board do it right this time around and conduct a full search? A special board meeting at 6 pm on May 29th has been called to address this sudden resignation. Hopefully Hergesheimer has not taken it upon herself to make a decision about his replacement behind closed doors and that the discussion for his replacement will be done solely through a publicly noticed meeting.
Despite all appearances, board members are not allowed to give direction to the Superintendent or make decisions about this hire without a vote of the Board. The Board has even approved this language as part of all Superintendent Contracts.
Prior to the Board meeting on Tuesday, May 29th to determine options, we recommend that the Board not only approve the hiring of a search firm, but that it also commit to establishing a vision for the future of the District to help it decide what type of educational leader they want to hire to implement the vision.
This district suffers from a lack of innovation, falling rankings of all of our schools and a significant operational deficit that needs cleaning up, not covering up. The lack of vision, direction and policy update and implementation will just set up another Superintendent to fail.
School Board Members, we would like to remind you of your job. You chose to run for office, get elected, stay in office, take pay and benefits from the taxpayers, so yes you chose this job. As Board members, you also have responsibilities per the CSBA (CA School Board Association):
Establishing an effective and efficient structure
Providing community leadership as advocates for children, the school district and public schools
Create a vision, then hire someone capable of doing it with both a financial and educational background skilled in working with the district's constituents. Over the past two years, the Superintendent seemed to struggle with continuous public comments. The continued questions about the district’s operational deficit perceived by taxpayers to be caused by the potentially unsustainable 12.5% record-breaking raises to all district staff (administrators, certificated and classified), which also impact the district's contributions to the state pensions, this all despite the district’s then projected operational deficit and Governor Brown’s warning that district’s should be more conservative in their expenditures due to the likelihood of another future economic downturn.
Highlights of other issues plaguing the District caused by a lack of direction and an ineffective structure:
the slip in state and national rankings of all schools
the decline of test scores at Torrey Pines HS
the decline of test scores of Special Ed Students at all schools
controversy of the unexpected resignation of a loved AP Physics teacher
the new California School Dashboard shows major weaknesses in our High Schools for our vulnerable student groups and in math across the board.
the lack of understanding and real conversation by the school board on the direct impact of over burdened class sizes on both Students and Teachers (actual vs. average)
the continuing and heavy burdens put on parents to fundraise for site needs such as paper, technology, curriculum and other basic essentials while retro-active raises continue to be given to staff already under binding contracts and already the highest paid in all of San Diego County.
the failure of the district's budget to include the true real costs to run the district's athletic programs or school sites (because it expects the families to pay for certain operational costs, and in some cases possibly for substitutes and/or school site improvements)
the failure of the school board to discern that CalPERS and CalSTRS are directly tied to employee compensation and an increase in compensation will also create a burdensome increase in expenses if not balanced properly.
six figure salaries for administrative assistants (CalPERS)
ongoing problems with special education because of the lack of courses and curriculum for the special education tracks,
the expenditure of nearly $1 million on a facility for the district’s special education students in the adult transition program that could not fit most of the adults that work in or are enrolled in the program
the recommendation to turn over the $10 million dollar athletic fields built on property in La Costa Valley to the City of Carlsbad, even though most of the residents in the City of Carlsbad are not paying for the Prop AA bond (only roughly 15,000 of nearly 90,000 voters in the City of Carlsbad reside in the district's boundaries)
questions about the priority of the district to spend money on the athletic fields at La Cost Valley instead of renovating Sunset High School. Renovations for Sunset were originally slated for 2035, and was only changed after parents and taxpayers questioned the delay.
WE NEED a superintendent search to find an outside person with a proven track record of uplifting all students and a balanced approach to the complexities of running a high performing school district like SDUHSD.
Our new superintendent should have the state required credentials and be selected because of a a record of success, not simply because of a record of working in the district.
Our new superintendent will have compassion, common sense, high moral courage, and the ability to make tough decisions for the best interest of all students.
Our new superintendent will champion the needs of our most vulnerable students (those that are struggling and those in our special education programs) and provide these students the resources (physical, mental and human) that they need to grow into productive members of our communities.
Our new superintendent needs to be able to treat all stakeholders with respect and hold all district staff to the same high standards that we hold our students.
Our new superintendent needs to be adamant that all activities approved on our public facilities and all district business must be ethical and transparent to give all students equal access.
Our new superintendent needs to do a thorough accounting to determine if the current operational budget is sustainable, because the deficit gaps caused by the record making 12.5% raises are not being closed at the end of the year like we have been told.
Our new superintendent needs to bring innovative programs so that our district does not fall behind other districts in its ability to reach and help struggling students, empower gifted students, and ensure programming and financial parity to our schools.
In 2014, John Deasy (former LAUSD Superintendent) did an interview with NPR, which offers a lot of value insights and lessons to be learned so that problems can be avoided instead of created. Per Deasy:
"I certainly am responsible and consequential for my style of leadership and my agenda, which was students' rights first," he tells host Steve Inskeep. That agenda, he says, "definitely made some adults uncomfortable." ..
Tuesday May 29, 2018 - 6:00 pm at the District Office
If not you, then who?