October 2010 home page

  Meet the Candidates

Five for School Board
Sherryl Parks | Kalamath Drive


Douglas Rafner

Kristin Gibson

Steven McDowell



The Five Candidates


Scott Wooden




Jason Maletic


Below are the questions Sherryl Parks solicited from each of the five
Del Mar School Board Candidates. 
Click to find the candidates' answers.

1. Why are you running?  ANSWERS

2. How long have you lived here?  ANSWERS

3. What committees have you served on locally or in your profession?  ANSWERS

4. Why do you think you are qualified to be on the DM School Board?  ANSWERS

5. What do you see as key issues?  ANSWERS

1. Why are you running?  top

Kristin Gibson: My most important role is as a mother, and that entails working to ensure my child has the best academic experience possible. Secondly, as an educator, I am passionate about our public school system. I’ve spent my career thus far serving children, their families, and their teachers. As a school board member, I’ll be able to use my skills and knowledge to do so in a new capacity.

Jason Maletic: I am running for the DMUSB so that I can donate my time to helping the school district leverage their resources to provide the best education for students of the district.

Steven McDowell: I want to continue serving the Del Mar Union School District - the cornerstone of our community and neighborhoods - and our wonderful children whose educational achievements make Del Mar the top performing elementary school district in San Diego County. Four years ago there was a need to restore DMUSD’s relationship with the Del Mar community which opposed potential commercial development of the old Del Mar Shores School and Park site and to end costly litigation regarding the property. There was also a need for board members who could conduct sound financial analysis and review comprehensive financial statements. Another need was to improve the flexibility of board policies so students could remain at their original school.

Since the successful sale of the Shores to the City of Del Mar with funds raised from the community, the property has become public open space for future generations. As the invested sale proceeds grow while commercial property values continue to decline, the District’s purchasing power has increased as we seek to find a more suitable home for our administrative offices. I want to help complete this important project.

The District is financially stronger today than it was four years ago. Board oversights of contracts and judicious cost cutting have made a difference in these hard economic times. Knowing how to read school financials is not a skill learned overnight. This is an important skill that I want to continue to provide to the District.
We have worked hard to make District policies better aligned with parent requests regarding where they want their children to go to school. More work is needed, and I want to be part of it.

Douglas Rafner: I am running for the Del Mar Union School board because I know I can help to get the district back on the track of educational excellence. As a mediator, I know the importance true communication has on any issue. While some on this Board promised transparency and communication with the public in their decision-making, the record reflects that nothing could be less transparent than what has occurred over the past 4 years. I know I can do better.

The degree of micro-management, which is commonplace for this board, has deteriorated the relationship with the teachers and stifled the ability of the administrative staff to perform their work.

I recognize the role a board needs to play in order to allow the district to work toward a unified goal of academic excellence and I will work to fulfill that role.
The current board has created an atmosphere of divisiveness within our school communities. I can, and will, re-unite the communities in our district with the common goal of ensuring the best education possible for our children.

Scott Wooden: I was shocked and saddened by the resignation of Principal Gary Wilson in November 2009. That opened my eyes to the extent of this board’s micromanagement. I spoke at that board meeting and stated I would be watching their actions. I saw schools pitted against schools and parents against parents, making ESC fundraising more difficult. I saw the crumbling of stability and the deterioration of relationships between the board, administrators and teachers. I saw how all the district’s top administrators have left. I spoke to the board again and watched in disgust as this board fired Superintendent McClain, someone they hired less than two years before. The board had lost all remaining respect in this community. At that point I decided to run. We need to restore the “3 R’s” to this district – responsibility, relationships and respect. I intend to do that over the next four years.   top

2. How long have you lived here?   top

Kristin Gibson: 5 years.

Jason Maletic: I have lived in SD for most of the 90’s and permanently since 02/06/2000. I have been a homeowner in DM for over 6 years.

Steven McDowell: My wife, Jennifer, and I are both from San Diego. Nine years ago we moved to our home above the village in Del Mar where we have been raising our three children.

Douglas Rafner: I have lived in Carmel Valley since 2002. All of my children have attended Ashley Falls School from Kindergarten.

Scott Wooden: My wife, Victoria, and I have lived in Carmel Valley since 2002 with our two children, ages 8 and 5. We live in the Torrey Woods Estates community and our children attend the Ocean Air School.  top

3. What committees have you served on locally or in your profession?  top

Kristin Gibson: Ashley Falls School Site Council and the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation.

Jason Maletic: I am the VP for the Board of Directors at the Del Mar Villas and on the Architectural Committee for the Del Mar Villas.

Steven McDowell: I have served on the DMUSD Board of Trustees for the last four years and was elected President of the Board in May. I have also served as the DMUSD representative to the Legislative Action Network, the Schools Education Foundation, the North City West Facilities Finance Authority and the Strategic Planning Committee at the San Diego County Office of Education. I originally got involved through my children’s school, Del Mar Heights, as an active volunteer, member of the PTA and PTA Treasurer.

I have chaired the Del Mar Traffic Parking Advisory Committee for the last two years and served on the committee for over six years. I have also contributed to Del Mar Little League as a board member for the last six years.

Douglas Rafner: I am a member of the San Diego County Bar Association. Locally, I was appointed to the Del Mar Union School District’s Financial Task Force.

Scott Wooden: I have been active in the community, serving as President and board member for the Torrey Woods Estates HOA for three years. I am in my fourth year with the Ecke Adventure Princess, and now Guide program, and served a year as Tribal Chief. Prior to moving to San Diego, I had been both President and the VP-Membership of the Conejo Valley Ski Club and the representative to the LA Council of Ski Clubs. I also served as both President and Vice-President of the USC Health Sciences Graduate Student Association.   top

4. Why do you think you are qualified to be on the DM School Board?  top

Kristin Gibson: Prior to becoming a parent, I worked as an elementary school teacher. Currently, I am an educational consultant, which includes lecturing for SDSU’s School of Teacher Education, providing professional development for teachers, and contributing to projects at the Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education. These experiences provide me with a keen understanding of how schools operate and what children need to become self-fulfilled, productive, responsible members of our community.

Jason Maletic: In this fiscal meltdown I know how to make payrolls and keep a business moving. I have a deep desire to serve all the children in the District.

Steven McDowell: I care about our community. My professional background in finance has already helped to improved reporting by the District and resulted in faster reviews by the board. I have gained valuable skills over the last four years, from my participation in the Masters in Governance program through the California School Boards Association, and attendance at Basic Aid conferences, legislative meetings and our own board meetings. I have used these skills as Board President to effectively run our meetings so they no longer run over 3 hours, develop a good working relationship with the Superintendent Jim Peabody and be responsive to our community. My participation in the San Diego County Office of Education strategic planning process will help our District’s upcoming strategic planning process.

Douglas Rafner: I am an attorney/mediator by trade. Part of my training includes an appreciation for the positions taken by others, as well as being able to discern alternatives and work toward an agreed upon goal. In all cases, communication is key to making any decision affecting others.

Scott Wooden: I understand what it takes to lead. Being on boards, both in my HOA and non-profits, I understand the responsibilities of a board member. I have led and managed a group of up to 25 employees over the course of sixteen years in my professional career. I am in a collaborative environment and must work effectively with other individuals to accomplish my goals. I will not micro-manage the district. One hires highly qualified individuals and allows them to do their jobs. I have a doctorate in biochemistry, and while I could teach science, I am not in the field of education. I’ll let the teachers teach. As a board member, I will make sure that we have a long-range plan in place with the proper goals to carry out the vision. I have always been able to listen and learn, whether in my job or on a board. These are all skill sets needed as an effective leader. Finally, I understand the importance of a quality education and will do my best to insure that all students have an equal opportunity to succeed.  top

5. What do you see as key issues?  top

Kristin Gibson: General issues facing our school board include establishing a positive vision for our schools that is based on the values of our community and grounded in measurable, long-range goals. Policies need to be adopted, evaluated, and modified objectively with the best interest of children in mind. The distinction between board, staff, and community member roles must be clear and the board must operate in a transparent and trustworthy manner, ensuring accountability to the public. A more specific issue would be an increased attention to matters of curriculum and teaching. Our district’s performance on standardized tests is outstanding, but it is our continued job to examine our practices and see if there are areas in which we can improve even further. The world is changing, and the 21st century poses new challenges for our students. We need to do more to promote creativity, problem solving, interpersonal and conflict resolution skills, and intellectual autonomy. The school board needs to support their excellent faculty and administrative staff in pursuing this goal.

Jason Maletic: Class size and portable classroom options, the Shores sale funds and what to do with them. The new District office options and the overall budget crisis.

Steven McDowell: The key issues center on meeting the needs of all our children and sustaining their continued achievement in these tough economic times by:

• Maintaining the District’s financial strength given the threats of potential state take-aways;
• Ensuring funds are available for quality enrichment programs at all eight of our schools;
• Supporting best practices that may have started in one school so they are available to all schools;
• Continuing to improve board policies on school choice;
• Increasing the visibility of what all our schools have to offer to the community, our children and their families;
• and promoting community support and volunteers in the schools.

Douglas Rafner: Unfortunately, most of the immediately pressing issues to be dealt with by a new board were caused by the current board. First, is the issue of a district office. The current board has had 3 years in which to resolve this issue and use the funds from the Shores sale to purchase or build a new office without having to use funds from the general fund. They have been unwilling or unable to make a decision in order to resolve this issue.

The second issue is the one foretold by the public upon the termination of superintendent Sharon McClain. Ms. McClain has indicated she will file a claim for breach of contract due to her firing. The new board will inherit this issue and will have to make the decision of how to deal with that lawsuit, understanding that payment of defense costs comes from general funds which could have/should have been spent on our children.

Balancing the budget will continually be an issue facing any school district. However, because our district receives its funding from property taxes and not directly from Sacramento, it is in much better financial shape than most other districts in the State. Our objective is to remain a Basic Aid district, and not allow Sacramento take funds from our district, as it has indicated it would. Thus, we must continue with a strong lobby in Sacramento to maintain our Basic Aid status, without interference from lawmakers.

Additionally, we must mend our fences and initiate camaraderie within the various communities in the district. The neighborhoods within our district may be unique, but we all agree that providing a superior, insightful, stimulating and inspiring education for our children is a priority we have in common.

Scott Wooden: Restoring the 3-R’s to the district - Responsibility, Relationships and Respect. We must restore fiscal responsibility by placing the district on solid financial ground, purchasing an office within budget and dealing with litigation from the board’s firing of Superintendent Sharon McClain. We must restore and repair relationships, strained from pitting parents against parents and schools against schools. The board must stop the micro-management and work with teachers and administrators, not at odds with them. We also must restore the respect that this board and district have lost through four years of turmoil. It is difficult to hire the best superintendents and administrators without having respect in the educational community. Likewise, it is difficult to make tough decisions if community has lost respect in the board.  top


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