Rancho Santa Fe School parent forums to return next year

Last year a group of Rancho Santa Fe School District parents rallied to create more parent involvement in the district and, at the June 2 RSF School District board meeting, the board heard an update about the accomplishments in the first year of the parent forum.

The parent forum is a committee under the school to support parent engagement and positive parent-school collaboration around student success. This is different from the RSF Education Foundation, whose goal is to provide a grant to the district through fundraising and to provide volunteers for school community events.

RSF School District Superintendent Lindy Delaney thanked the parent forum committee for its time and efforts as the district works to continue to make R. Roger Rowe School the very best it can be.

“We have tried to make things better with parent engagement. We’ve had knock-down drag-outs, we’ve had laughs, we’ve even had tears,” Delaney said.

Jan Castonguay Shakiba said the parent forum accomplished its goal of creating a platform for parents to identify and discuss important issues that impact the educational experience for all students.

“Our goal was to develop a collaborative process where parent feedback is shared with policy makers and educators and where school policy makers and educators can educate parents,” Castonguay Shakiba said.

Throughout the year the committee hosted forums that were attended on average by 20 to 50 parents—the largest turnout was 50 on the issue of the superintendent’s retirement.

“We believe we made a valid contribution with our efforts this year and would like to continue to build on that moving forward,” Castonguay Shakiba said.

In the coming year, the committee would like to host about three to five forum workshops, form an action plan to address concerns and develop an annual school survey.

At the June 2 meeting, Barbara Edwards, development director for the RSF Education Foundation, provided an update on the foundation, which has committed to providing a $1.5 million grant to the school in 2016-17.

Edwards was hired to the new position in the summer before this school year.

“She is the perfect fit for the job and it’s a big job,” Delaney said of Edwards. “People say over and over again to me, ‘How did we live without it?’”

Edwards said this year was not only the first for the RSF Education Foundation development director but the first year of the foundation’s new organizational structure, first year of the endowment contribution and the first year for the formal nomination process for the 14-member board, which resulted in six new members.

This year the RSF Education Foundation reached its commitment of granting the district $1.3 million.

“We raised the highest cash in door in the education foundation history,” Edwards said.

Edwards noted that due to outstanding pledge commitments they were $65,000 short of their goal and they dipped into their reserves — she said they are fortunate to have such strong reserves.

“We are thrilled to report that this year we had 75 percent participation of parents,” Edwards said.

Edwards also announced that the foundation’s recently-established Lindy Delaney Legacy Fund just surpassed $100,000.