Scripps Ranch Schools Committee (SRSC)
Incoming Superintendent Meets With Schools Committee
San Diego Unified School District superintendent-designate Cindy Marten asked to meet with the Scripps Ranch Schools Committee to learn more about the schools in our community. She was invited to the April meeting to introduce herself and answer questions, and the entire meeting was devoted to this purpose.
Ms. Marten began with an explanation of how she came to be appointed superintendent and why she accepted the position, despite a process she felt was inappropriate because it did not have community outreach and input. In essence, she felt that her personal philosophy of focusing on the needs of students and fostering a sense of community, along with her relationships with key parties—including the San Diego Educators Association and the mayor—aligned her skill set with the needs of the district at this time.
Ms. Marten fielded a number of questions that had been posed by committee members. The first priority was about the equity of district funding for Scripps Ranch schools. In general, Ms. Marten indicated that the district needs to establish priorities—with students at the core—and align spending toward these priorities, although she noted the difference between equity and equal.
Ms. Marten had recently met with principals and foundation chairs and recognizes that parents in Scripps Ranch have been closing the financial gap through foundations. She said it was not reasonable for the district to provide so limited funding that parents must provide for basic needs.
She addressed a question about providing supplemental services for low-income students because Scripps Ranch schools do not meet the threshold for any Title I funds, and she encouraged the schools to ask for funding of specific needs. In general, Ms. Marten indicated that her focus is not to dwell on the problem but to find an immediate solution, and she gave examples from her tenure as principal at Central Elementary School.
Another question addressed academic autonomy agreements, as have been developed in other clusters in the district. Ms. Marten felt that the desire for school and cluster autonomy stemmed from a history of top-down administration. She believes in a grassroots, bottom-up process, with support from the district, which she felt could abrogate the need for autonomy.
Ms. Marten acknowledged that communication was an issue for the district and believed that ineffective communication was central to the reason why the district as a whole is in Program Improvement. In answering a question regarding traffic safety issues at school sites, she noted that she has a long history with Mayor Filner, which dates back to her days as a student in SDUSD. She said a good partnership with the mayor will aid in a number of district concerns, including traffic.
In response to a query on technology, Ms. Marten said that the district had started an Information Technology Task Force and was including corporate partners, such as Hewlett-Packard and Qualcomm.
Finally, in regards to the district’s financial solvency, Ms. Marten indicated that while district staff members were nervous about the future, she felt confident that realigning the district priorities and leveraging community partnerships would help find solutions to the ongoing budget issue.
Schools Committee Meetings
The Schools Committee does not meet June through August but resumes in September. Meetings are on the third Wednesday of the month at 4:30 pm in the Scripps Ranch Library’s seminar room.
Tamara Hurley, SRSC Legislative Analyst