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Board Could Approve Fiscal Committee This Month

New Superintendent Dr. Jeff Wilson. Mitch Lehman Photo

The San Marino School Board is considering establishing a fiscal resources task force that, if approved at a future meeting, will research possible future revenue sources as the district enters the 2019-20 school year facing a $2.5 million structural deficit.

The idea was presented at Tuesday’s board meeting by Superintendent Dr. Jeff Wilson as a vehicle to “examine all options and opportunities” to uncover monies that will hopefully move the SMUSD towards equilibrium.

The task force would be comprised of between 10–20 members including a board member, community members, teachers and staff members with the goal of providing a report by March 30, 2020.

“Let’s acknowledge that there are cycles the district goes though and sometimes there is less money we can spend,” Board President Lisa Link said. “What can we do to stabilize or subsidize our revenue sources? That is what this is about and it is something that Dr. Wilson as our new superintendent wants to do.”

The board will hear a second reading on the proposal at its August 27 meeting.

On the same subject, it was announced that the district has established what Wilson called an expenditure review team that consists of Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Julie Boucher, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Linda de la Torre and the new superintendent.

“We will be looking at all expenditures and will come to [the school board] with recommendations for cost-cutting,” Wilson explained. “We are considering all things and will be turning over every rock.”

The board also directed Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Jason Kurtenbach to task the Academics Advisory Committee with studying the Universal Design for Learning (UDL), an educational system that ideally improves the educational process by “eliminating barriers.”

“This program puts the tag ‘disabled’ on the curriculum, not the learner,” said Kurtenbach, quoting a supporter of the system. “What traditions do we have here that help or hinder students from learning?”

“We all have different learning styles,” said Wilson, who is familiar with UDL. “It can be as simple as some of us read better in the morning and some of us read better at night. Some of us learn on podcasts and some of us on Twitter. We need to find something that will help kids academically and then behaviorally. I recommend this to become the construct of what the AAC does this year. Focus on UDL. If some of the other items fit into it, fine.”

Other board members suggested CTE Pathways, dual enrollment and college admissions as other potential fodder for the AAC.

Tuesday wasn’t Wilson’s first rodeo as superintendent. On Friday, August 9, the board, cabinet and the superintendent met in open session for six hours to carry out some board governance exercises and strategic planning.

“We had a very useful session facilitated by Leadership Associates about best practices that support effective governance,” said Link. “The board, with input from Superintendent Wilson and the cabinet, started the process of evaluating board protocols and discussing effective methods of governance. Each cabinet member also made a presentation about their 2019-20 goals and areas of focus in their respective areas of educational services, human resources, business services and technology services.”

The next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 27 at 7:30 p.m.

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