Past RSF superintendent to stay on as consultant to school district

R. Roger Rowe School.
(Karen Billing)

Rancho Santa Fe School Distrct’s former superintendent Lindy Delaney, who retired in 2016, will remain on as a consultant as the district goes through a leadership transition with new Superintendent Tom Bennett.

The board brought Delaney back to the district in December as they went through their superintendent search, approving a contract not to exceed $25,000. In March, the board upped the contract from $25,000 to $50,000.

At the June 15 board meeting, the board approved a new agreement with Delaney at an hourly rate of $150 through Oct. 31. Per the agreement she will provide onboarding assistance for the new superintendent, coaching and mentoring, and other services as determined by the board.

As a new superintendent, Bennett said he is coming in with a lot of leadership pieces missing or brand new —the district has a new middle school principal with Kelly Stine, is in the process of hiring a new elementary school principal, and that night approved the new director of special education Nicole Devlin from the Escondido Union School District.

He said Delaney helps by offering a historical perspective, given she was Rancho Santa Fe’s superintendent for 12 years and spent a total of 30 years in the district as an administrator, coach and teacher—first hired as a teacher by Dr. R. Roger Rowe.

“The one thing I really appreciate about the relationship with Lindy is that she doesn’t force herself on any types of decisions, she understands her role as a consultant,” said Bennett, who himself worked as an educational consultant after leaving his position as head of school at Santa Fe Christian Schools. “Frankly, it’s a real value at a very important transitional time at the school and in the district.”

After her retirement in 2016, Delaney also served as a special advisor to former superintendent David Jaffe for the first five months of his term.

During public comment, parent Nadelle Kijewski spoke out against the use of public funds on this kind of consultant service, without financial parameters. She said transparency and honesty is needed as the board’s relationship with Delaney has been behind closed doors: “Decision makers should either be voted on or accessible to all public stakeholders,” she said.

RSF School Board President John Tree said he understood the concerns about the agreement. Without revealing confidential information, he said while in her advisory role, Delaney helped the district through some fairly challenging times over the last few months: “Lindy Delaney has been instrumental in getting us through this past year.”

Despite the compliments given to the former superintendent at the last board meeting, Tree said on her way out there were some things that the board did not have confidence in her to get done that Delaney helped with. He also shared some criticism for the superintendent search firm that the board hired: “We ended up relying on Lindy more than the search firm in terms of vetting candidates.” Tree said without her counsel, he’s not sure they would’ve ended up where they did with the hire of Bennett.

While the agreement does not have a financial cap on it, Tree said Delaney’s contract will be brief, to get Bennett “standing on his own two feet quickly” in regard to his transition into public education.

In his remarks, Trustee Paul Seitz said Delaney has been helpful this year in dealing with what he described as a “fractured” school. He said he hears the concerns that it is a lot of money to spend on an outside consultant but the board’s thought process is “to get her in and get her out as fast as we can.”