The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Rowe Staff Cuts: Success Comes At A Price

Success comes at a price. The RSF school board was elected to make our Elementary school the top premier school in the county and possibly the state. I understand parent concern about teachers leaving, but this is not the first time teachers at Rowe have received pink slips, nor will it be the last.

This is not personal. The board is doing their sworn fiduciary duty by approving this reduction. Do not ASSUME non-teaching positions have not been evaluated — they just don’t require the three-to-six month advanced notice. The fact is, student enrollment is down and the reduction should have taken place last year. This speaks volumes to this new school board’s fiscal oversight. It is refreshing to see the board make the hard decisions that are unpopular, but necessary.

Elimination of teaching staff is always the last resort, but you cannot maintain staff meant for educating 700 children when your enrollment is around 600 students. The classroom 20-1 ratio has not changed, so teachers/students continue to enjoy small classes and students continue to have enrichment programs (music, art, coding). Rowe also continues to offer support to students who need reading and math intervention. (See letter to parents on district website for more details.)

The bigger concern is why do state rankings continue to decline when our school enjoyed so many specialists and staff?

Most school board candidates in the last election stated there was bloat in the district. So, when the newly elected school board took on their first task, they hired the best superintendent candidate in San Diego county, Donna Tripi. Last year (2018) Tripi managed La Jolla Elementary (K-5) school, which ranked as the No. 2 Elementary school in the state, while Rowe Elementary dropped its ranking to No. 161. The Rowe Middle school currently ranks No. 52, falling behind local Middle schools like Pacific Trails, which was ranked No. 30, and Carmel Valley Middle school, ranked at No. 38 in the state of California. Learn more about school rankings.

When you hire the best, it doesn’t take long to identify the changes needed, especially when you have years of experience and a proven track record running a top-performing elementary school. However, changes are never easy and some parents have been vocal about the pink slip notifications. The biggest goal moving forward will be changing the perception that more teachers equal a better education. Case in point: Pacific Rim (K-5, ranked No. 11), located in Carlsbad, has an enrollment of 831 students with a student-teacher ratio of 28 to 1, vs. Rowe Elementary (K-5, ranked No. 161), which has an enrollment of 407 students with a student-teacher ratio of 16 to 1. Hence, more teachers do not always produce better results.

The next challenge will be to get staff, parents and students on the same page in order to execute a quality educational program that brings success. Staffing changes also come with the harsh reality that the district can’t preserve jobs because a few parents demand it. No one is served well when we aren’t serving the students’ needs and fall behind in performance. Ask yourself: How can I support the district in making R. Roger Rowe the top Elementary school?

Note: See School board resolution reducing or discontinuing particular kinds of services for the 2019-2020 school year dated: 2.25.19.