The Rancho Santa Fe School District is looking to deal with several shake-ups following the resignation of Board President Todd Frank, about a month after the voluntary resignation of Superintendent David Jaffe. The board took action to appoint Principal Kim Pinkerton as the interim superintendent on July 23 and at a special meeting on Aug. 3 discussed hiring an interim assistant elementary school principal to help Pinkerton during the transition.
“There is some urgency to filling that position,” said Board Vice President Tyler Seltzer, adding that Pinkerton’s focus will be on filling the superintendent position and it will be important to appoint the best possible candidate for assistant principal as students will be welcomed back to campus on Aug. 27.
Frank’s resignation, with just three months left in his term, was effective Aug. 10, leaving a board vacancy until the Nov. 6 election.
The board will now be working to fill the superintendent seat without a full board, just four board members. In 2016, the board appointed trustee Scott Kahn just four days after the resignation of Richard Burdge in an effort to have a full board for the then-superintendent search to replace retiring superintendent Lindy Delaney.
The board will discuss the next steps in its superintendent search at a special meeting on Friday, Aug. 17 at 9 a.m., including taking action on hiring a search firm.
“It’s really important that we make that decision as soon as possible,” said board member Sarah Neal of selecting a firm from the proposals the district has received.
Kahn said as they move ahead with the search, he wants to make sure the process is very visible so that the community can see what steps are being taken. He suggested having a section on the website devoted to the process. As Pinkerton’s interim superintendent contract must be approved at a regular board meeting, it will not be approved until the Sept. 13 meeting.
Frank submitted his resignation letter to the San Diego County Superintendent of Schools after serving on the board for eight years. In the letter, Frank stated that he had decided not to run again at the end of his term this year and after “careful consideration” decided that this was the most appropriate time to submit his resignation.
Frank did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
At the Aug. 3 special meeting, the board approved the job description and duties for the interim assistant principal as well as the language that will be posted for an internal candidate.
“The exact balance of those duties is going to evolve as Kim sees how much time is taken away for superintendent activities,” Kahn said.
Pinkerton will contact the handful of staff members with administration credentials, and board members Kahn and Neal will participate in interviews this coming week. All three board members (board member Tom Barton was not present) wanted it to be clearly stressed in the job description that the assistant principal position was temporary—the contract will provide that it can be eliminated at any time.
Neal said her concern is more than just the qualifications of the internal candidate but the potential disruption of taking someone out of their regular role in the classroom and putting them into the interim principal position.
“My hope is that there will be minimal disruption to students,” said Neal, noting that it should factor into the board’s decision.
“I’d say that’s probably number one,” agreed Seltzer. “We can deal with disruption, we’ve had one or two in the last month. The board can deal with disruptions, the staff can deal with disruptions, even most parents can deal with disruptions. But we want to make it as least disruptive as possible for the kids.”
As the incumbent Frank is not filing for re-election, there will be extension of the nomination period for the two board seats up for election in November. So far, parent and certified public accounted Kali Kim has pulled papers to run. Any qualified member of the public who is interested in running for the board must file the required paperwork with the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office no later than 5 p.m. on Aug. 15. For more information, visit sdvote.com