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RSF School board approves new superintendent contract

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The Rancho Santa Fe School District board meeting on Dec. 13.
(Karen Billing)

The Rancho Santa Fe School District board approved a three-year contract for new superintendent Donna Tripi at its Dec. 13 meeting. Tripi, who has over 30 years of experience in education, has been the principal of La Jolla Elementary School since 1999.

Tripi will be paid $190,000 in annual salary plus benefits and her first day on the job will be Jan. 1, 2019.

Tripi was selected as the finalist after a search conducted over the last six months and resulted in a field of 23 candidates that included applicants from public and private school systems throughout California and from out of state. While Tripi’s accomplishments include high test scores and her school receiving multiple honors such as the California Distinguished School Award, President Sarah Neal said her support of Tripi was based more on her leadership qualities.

“What I really saw that was impressive with Donna was her long-term leadership in a community which is very similar to ours, her clear commitment to being student-centered and her success at supporting teachers as professionals who we can really count on to develop our students,” Neal said. “Those qualities really made her stand out.”

The vote to approve Tripi’s contract was 3-0 with two abstentions—new board members Jee Manghani and Kali Kim abstained from the vote as they were not involved in the interview process. Neal noted that the board did not want to stop the important business of selecting a superintendent due to a board vacancy and worked with what Vice President Tyler Seltzer called “focused urgency.” Both Manghani and Kim did have the opportunity to meet with Tripi and stated their support for her superintendency.

“I was impressed by her knowledge and also her collaborative demeanor,” Kim said. “I think that knowledge and demeanor will enable her to repeat at our school what she’s demonstrated at La Jolla Elementary with not only with the academic success but also the successful character development, through her implementation of an inclusive learning environment in the classroom. I’m excited to see what she’s going to do.”

At the Dec. 13 meeting, board members expressed their appreciation for the leadership of interim superintendent Kim Pinkerton over the last five months. Pinkerton will now return to her role as elementary school principal. Neal said she was impressed by Pinkerton’s communication skills, professionalism and the team atmosphere she created during the transitional period.

“My responsibility has always been to focus on the students, the staff and the parents of our school community and I’ll continue to keep that in mind,” Pinkerton said. “We find ourselves at another point in time where change is upon us and it’s my hope that we can come together to build up our school, whereby we continuously support our staff, who in turn take care of the little people placed in our charge. The little people should always be in the forefront of everything we do.”