Independent committee exploring parent engagement at Rancho Santa Fe School


A group called the Parent Engagement Exploratory Committee has been formed independently to determine how parents want to partner with R. Roger Rowe School and what such an organization and structure would entail.

Parent Diana Knickrehm, who has been studying the possibility of bringing back a parent-teacher organization, described the need for the committee during a special meeting before the Rancho Santa Fe School Board’s closed session on May 7.

“With all the advantages of the best schools and none of the limitations of the worst, our school should be among the top schools in the nation,” Knickrehm said. “Looking at what top schools do that we don’t, our research shows a clear opportunity. Top schools overwhelmingly have parent organizations that are open to all parents and represent all parents in a dynamic partnership, enhancing all aspects of school and student life.”

Knickrehm said while the school and parents know they need to do better, she isn’t exactly sure what this structure would be like at the school. She said a PTA could be best practice or it could not, and the Rancho Santa Fe Education Foundation, which serves so well for fundraising and volunteer events, may or may not accommodate the scope needed in an organization representing all parents.

The Parent Engagement Exploratory Committee would find out what would be the best solution for the school. Knickrehm said they have agreed they are not set on a specific outcome and plan to be fully collaborative with Superintendent Lindy Delaney and the board.

“The school board is a big part of the decision-making process and the success of everything at the school,” Knickrehm told the board. “We need you to help make this successful and get us to the best solution.”

In addition to the parent group’s efforts, the Foundation has been considering increasing parent participation. The Foundation had planned two town hall meetings on May 13 (after press time for this edition) to unveil its new organizational changes, which includes a new Community Connection arm designed for more parent involvement.

The parent engagement issue was raised again during public comment at the regular board meeting later that night by parent Sarah Neal. Neal referred to items on the closed agendas, such as the district’s possible purchase of the Association-owned “Hat” parcel, a piece of land next to the Mimosa property the district owns.

“I just think families might want to be involved in open meetings to learn about the overall strategic plan and facilities,” Neal said. “That’s something the Parent Engagement Exploratory Committee could take on.”

Delaney said that the district has been in the process of developing a facilities needs assessment that will be discussed at the June 4 board meeting, so there will be an opportunity for parents to weigh in.