Sarah Neal is the new president of the Rancho Santa Fe School District board, the gavel passing from outgoing president Tyler Seltzer.
At the board’s Dec. 13 meeting, Neal was elected in a 3-2 vote with board members Scott Kahn and Seltzer opposed. New board members Kali Kim and Jee Manghani were also sworn-in.
“I’m definitely honored for the support,” Neal said. “I regret not having the support of my other two board members, I hope to earn your support over the next year.”
Elected to the board in 2016, Neal has served as the school board’s clerk this year.
“Sarah has not been given an opportunity to lead since she’s been on the board,” said Kim, who nominated Neal. “She has strong community support and in her two years that she’s been on the board she has pushed for a governance calendar, she’s was the one who pushed for goal setting and when we were looking at the gym she was the one who pushed to make sure that we knew if the gym was safe or not and made sure we had all the facts.”
Manghani said any of the senior board members would do a “stellar” job in the role that rotates every year, however, after meeting with the new Superintendent Donna Tripi, he felt Neal would be most suited for the post this year. Tripi expressed the importance she places on a school master plan to help guide kids toward achieving high results.
“Sarah has been asking for a master plan for the last couple of years and that’s on her heart, that’s a strong desire,” Manghani said. “I think having Donna and Sarah work together as board president and superintendent (on a master plan) they will realize a lot of synergy with that.”
Prior to Neal’s nomination, Seltzer had nominated Kahn for the president position, citing his board experience, “outstanding” business and academic background, and his ability to be a “great ear to folks across the opinion spectrum in our wonderful community and that spectrum is broad.”
After his motion was not seconded, Seltzer apologized to Kahn, “I think you deserved better than that.”
Manghani nominated Kahn for vice president but Kahn declined the nomination. Kahn said he thinks that what the board is looking for is a “fresh new look” and it would be better for him to work outside of the vice president role. Seltzer was then voted the vice president, nominated by Neal, and Kim was voted the new clerk.
Manghani thanked Seltzer for his thoughtful leadership and for stepping up to be president over the last six months, following the resignation of both the superintendent and board president Todd Frank.
“It’s been a few crazy months and your expertise and experience has guided the school through a tumultuous time,” Manghani said.