One of the most prominent buildings in Rancho Santa Fe is its K-8 school, R. Roger Rowe. The structure meets the Rancho Santa Fe Covenant general building requirements of Par. 156-160, including Latin inspired with light colored plaster/stucco exterior. But the building’s prominence and formality counters the intent of the Covenant regarding bulk and mass and our rural heritage. In some ways, this school building is a metaphor.
The original Ranch School, a small charming building nearby, houses the Rancho Santa Fe Association offices, where the CDRC meets. With a declining student population of only 601, the Rowe School remains small. But as my recent visit there revealed, the facilities are quite grand.
My visit was October 9th when I attended a Candidates Forum for the School Board election (ballots have been mailed and must be returned by November 6). This gave me an opportunity to see the new school that I have been paying for all these years as a “Voter Approved Bond” with my annual property taxes. The decorative details, such as the tile and fountains outside the Performing Arts Center (the “PAC”) are gorgeous. The PAC itself is overwhelming. How fortunate the students are to have access to such a wonderful facility.
My son went to the prior RSF School on the same site. We moved from 94301, Palo Alto, with its sixties tract-style state school buildings, glorified Eichlers, along with temporary trailer classrooms to house the growing number of children who flocked to the academically successful school district. The playground, “gym,” at my son’s Palo Alto school was asphalt with a couple of hoops. So, you can imagine how amazed our family was by the former RSF School building, let alone this new school.
Unfortunately, only three of the five School Board candidates attended the Candidates Forum in the PAC. I appreciated all the candidates who spoke and their sincere efforts to serve our community. But as the school faces a substantial deficit, there were a couple of candidates who own property here and whose presentations and answers to questions showed they had the skill sets to address the difficult but necessary job of balancing a budget. Kali Kim, CPA, and Jee Manghani have the financial acumen, education and experience to address the large deficit which “surprised” our community. Deficits don’t just happen overnight. (My own budgets for vacations — or shoes– have a way of creeping up….)
We live in a nation where the Executive and his Congress approved a trillion-dollar budget deficit. And here in the Covenant we just encumbered ourselves to a telecommunications system on top of a luxurious Players Club for golfers we are still financing. But sometimes voters need to address financial limitations. As Palo Alto illustrates, it’s the fundamental purpose of schools — academic success — that attracts students, not big fancy buildings. Readers may be surprised to read that as a member of the CDRC tasked to apply aesthetics to the outside of buildings, I would know it’s the people inside, not things that matter. While name recognition and family friends may have made past candidates and current ones attractive on the outside, voters need to look at the talents inside the candidates. Kim and Manghani have the needed business experience for the Board to continue to improve transparency and manage the budget of our affluent district. Don’t just rely on my “class notes.” If readers do their own homework looking at the candidates’ experience, they will join me in voting for Kali Kim and Jee Manghani for the School Board.
The statements made in this column are the opinions of the author and not those of the Rancho Santa Fe Association Covenant Design Review Committee.