The San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) board discussed the possibility of imposing term limits on the governing board at its April 21 meeting. The item was on the agenda at the request of trustee John Salazar.
SDUHSD Superintendent Rick Schmitt said if the board decided to move forward on term limits, it could be placed on a future agenda and the board could work together to develop a resolution.
If the board chooses not to pursue term limits, a citizen’s group could go through the initiative process with the San Diego County Registrar of Voters to place the item on the ballot for an upcoming election.
At this time, the board decided not to move forward with changing its policies.
Salazar, in favor of term limits, said he didn’t think it was possible to change any of the board’s minds but wanted to bring the issue up.
“We don’t have a lot of diversity on this board and I thought if we had term limits, we would be able to have more diversity. We don’t really reflect, I don’t believe, the student population or the parents. Only one of us has a child in school. I’m not saying that I think (being a parent) should be a requirement of being on the school board…but I think it would be a good thing to have maybe more parents on the board.”
In addition to the possibility of adding diversity to the board, Salazar said if there were mandatory openings on the board, more people might be encouraged to run. In the last election cycle, SDUHSD did have an incumbent who was not re-elected but Salazar said that is very rare.
“I feel like this school district does have a wall around it just because the barrier to entry is difficult,” Salazar said. “This would be like putting a revolving door in.”
Trustee Mo Muir said Salazar raised a lot of good points and she agreed that parents make valuable board members as they are more in touch with what’s going on and more invested.
“When you have skin in the game it makes a big difference,” said Muir, who is the only board member with a child in the district, at La Costa Canyon.
Trustee Amy Herman said even if there were term limits, it wouldn’t necessarily guarantee that more parents would be on the board.
SDUHSD Board Vice President Joyce Dalessandro, who has been on the board for 20 years, said there’s a great deal to be said for incumbency and the commitment that goes along with it.
“Every single outstanding board member is completely in touch, visits every single school, goes into classrooms, talks with parents, gets involved with different aspects with what’s happening at different schools. It takes a huge amount of work, no question about that, but it is done,” Dalessandro said. “The board members who have been on the board awhile do that all the time, that’s part of the job, to know the kids, to know the curriculum, to know what the principals are all about, who’s doing what where. It’s the job, we’re expected to do that. And we do, all the time.”
Two of the five SDUHSD seats are up for election in November, those held by Dalessandro and President Beth Hergesheimer. The filing deadline for candidates is Aug. 12.