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SMUSD Board Sets Goals at Meeting

The San Marino School Board met at the Huntington Library on Monday, Aug. 1, to establish plans for the upcoming school year.

The meeting was facilitated by a professional leadership consultant from the California School Boards Association, Sepideh Yeoh, and the board was able to decide on four main goals, which were discussed at the regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting on Tuesday night.

“The Board continues to want to ensure that the San Marino Unified School District is offering our students a world class education,” said Board President Jeanie Caldwell. “Student performance, however, is measured not just by test scores and college acceptances. We believe that SMUSD graduates should become top-tier global citizens.”

Caldwell also said that the board must continue to focus on the district’s finances.

“As you are aware, the cost of an SMUSD education exceeds the ADA funding we receive from the state,” Caldwell said. “The existing programs are provided by ADA funding and supplemental funding provided through the community in the form of donations to the San Marino Schools Foundation, PTAs, two parcel taxes and one capital bond. Ongoing focus to the costs of education and the relevant funding is required to ensure sustainability. Additionally, there is no mechanism in the state’s budget to care for the school infrastructure. Our schools were greatly improved through the foresight of the community in the late ‘90s with the approval of the construction bond. Unfortunately, we are approaching the end of the useful life of much of that work — and need to find an acceptable way of addressing how we care for those buildings since the funding for such work is not provided as part of the state’s provided educational budget.”

Caldwell also emphasized the district’s desire to be service driven.

“It isn’t that ‘good service’ isn’t present today,” Caldwell said. “Rather, the goal is to ensure that we consider and re-consider it in every element.”

Caldwell stated that another goal is “to ensure that everyone within the district feels valued and appreciated. As with our service focus, it isn’t that this isn’t already the case, we just want to be intentional about the focus,” Caldwell said.

“We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful group of employees within the SMUSD; we want them to know how much we appreciate what they do.”

The timing for the meeting was important, as it set the direction for staff planning which followed the retreat. Superintendent Linda de la Torre and the district management team held a two-day offsite meeting on the Tuesday and Wednesday of that week to establish plans to achieve the Board’s goals.

Caldwell also explained to her fellow board members and representatives of the district’s cabinet some lessons that she learned during a summer vacation in Normandy, France, that included study of World War II’s D-Day invasion.

“I was focused on the monumental task of D-Day, the planning required, the many failed plans, the controllable and uncontrollable factors and maybe most importantly, the effectiveness of the teams, Germany vs. Allied,” said Caldwell. “The lessons were gathered from a lot of the reading I did in preparation for the trip — but were curated to fit with concepts that the Board was addressing on a much lesser, but no less important in scale.”

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