The Rancho Santa Fe School District board elected Scott Kahn as the new board president at its organizational meeting on Dec. 19. This will be Kahn’s first time in the leadership position; he has been a board member since 2016.
Past board clerk Kali Kim was elected as the new vice president and Jee Manghani was named the new board clerk. After the gavel was passed, Kahn and Manghani thanked outgoing president Sarah Neal for navigating the board through what was a difficult and at times contentious year for the district.
“I really enjoyed my time serving in this position…we made some difficult decisions and I think we accomplished a lot this year as a district and also as a board,” Neal said. “I absolutely support Scott and I think having a (leadership) rotation is good.”
At the organizational meeting, the board was set to approve a change in its meeting time schedule for the 2020 school year, moving from the practice of alternating meetings between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to all 9 a.m. morning meetings.
Teacher Amanda Valentine, representing the RSF Faculty Association, requested that the board not change meeting times in an effort to “promote transparency and open dialogue about what is best for students.”
After the faculty association found out about the proposed changes, Valentine said they sent a survey out to the teaching staff and asked what times work best for them to attend—95 percent of those surveyed had a preference for 5 p.m. meetings or the alternating schedule.
“(At 9 a.m.), teachers can not attend because they will be working, not to mention many working parents will be unable to attend,” Valentine said. “It is important in public school districts that teachers are stakeholders in matters of curriculum, safety and more. In order to be valued stakeholders, teachers need to be able to attend school board meetings.”
With the absence of a big issue, Kahn said that public attendance remains pretty much the same whether meetings are held at 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. Kahn was in favor of moving to all 9 a.m. meetings as he has heard feedback from parents that 5 p.m. is more disruptive for their schedules. Board member Tyler Seltzer said that meeting times should be what’s best for the board and for their productivity, “I think we have overwhelmingly better meetings at 9 a.m.,” Seltzer said.
Manghani preferred all evening meetings and believed they should stay with 5 p.m. or an alternating schedule as gesture of goodwill to the staff, to continue to provide them an outlet to communicate with the board. During the discussions on layoffs earlier in the year, Manghani said he remembers a morning meeting in which staff was coming in periodically throughout the meeting when they could during breaks.
Neal said she appreciated the input received from the staff survey and said that in order to make the change to all 9 a.m. meetings they should have parent outreach, possibly included in the end of the school year parent survey. Neal voted to keep the board meeting schedule consistent to “demonstrate that everyone’s voice is valuable.”
“It is a working meeting of the board but we are here to serve the community,” she said.
The board voted 3-2 in favor of keeping the alternating schedule, with Kahn and Seltzer opposed.