Interview with School Board President David Haubert

Dublin Patch | September 17, 2010 -

Dublin Patch recently met with Dublin Unified School District School Board President David Haubert to talk about the role of the School Board in our community, the results of the 2009-10 school year and goals going forward. David will continue as a School Board Trustee uncontested for another term. David, his wife Michele and their three daughters (who attend Dublin High School, Fallon Middle School and John Green Elementary School) are long-time Dublin residents.

Dublin Patch: What is the role of the School Board in general and of individual Trustees in the Dublin Unified School District?

David Haubert: “The main purpose of the School Board and all local government is to represent the residents of the community. The most important thing the School Board can do locally is to set clear direction for the District that will accomplish the objectives and goals of the community, and to do that by hiring a Superintendent capable of carrying out those policies and guidelines. Beyond that a school board should evaluate and provide feedback to the Superintendent based on what school board members hear from the community and during visits to schools, to make corrections and stay on course.

“What a School Board member should not do is jump in and do the Superintendent’s job, or a Principal’s job or an individual teacher’s job. It is really important that School Board members have a good relationship with District leadership, especially the Superintendent, to provide constructive feedback. Let them lead as we’ve hired them to do and give direction and feedback along the way.”

DP: What are some of the constraints School Board members operate under, due to laws such as the Brown’s Act, during School Board meetings? Some parents expect an open dialogue when addressing the School Board during meetings and are surprised when this is not the case.

DH: “It is important that everyone realize that we’re representing the entire community and as such we need to provide notice to the public when we discuss items and that the public has fair notice of the things we’ll be talking about. So it wouldn’t be fair for someone to come to a board meeting unannounced and for us to engage in dialogue on a particular topic because the entire community hasn’t been notified that the topic has been brought up for discussion.

“Are we allowed to hear people’s concerns? Absolutely. Are we allowed to express our viewpoint? Yes – there is a portion of the meeting where Board Members can do so. But we have to steer very clear of making decisions or having too much dialogue on an issue without providing proper notice to the entire community. We encourage members of the community to speak as visitors so we can log the concern, understand the concern and possibly bring the concern forward formally at a later date when the public can be fully notified to debate the pros and cons of the issue, or work on the issue offline with District staff.”

DP: What are some of the ways parents can get involved at the District level, separate from existing groups at individual schools sites?

DH: “In Dublin we have several District-wide opportunities, the most important of which is supporting our schools through Dublin Partners in Education. Beyond that School Board meetings are, of course, very important, along with other District Committees such as the Boundary Committee and oversight committees for Measure ‘C’ and Measure ‘L’. Because Dublin High School serves the entire community getting involved at the high school is another way to get involved across the District. Those on School Site Councils at each school do come together at the Superintendent’s Council but that meeting is not generally attended by the public at large.

“You bring up a good point that there is no other District-wide body to plug into freely. In other Districts there is, for example a District-wide PFC that is the voice of parents coming together from across the District in a unified way, and that’s something I hope we can work to improve upon. Clearly there is an opportunity for District-wide dialogue and doing more of that will help Dublin feel like one community.”

DP: What is the process that is being followed to fill the position on the School Board left vacant by the resignation of former Trustee John Ledahl?

DH: “First let me say that I’m very excited we can fill a slot on the School Board by somebody who would otherwise not be willing to go through the election process which can be very daunting and very time-consuming. The candidates we are considering do not have to go through that process so we open it up to a broader audience.

“The process is very clear – we either have to appoint a Board Member or call a special election that the District would have to pay for. We chose to attempt to appoint a representative to replace the open seat. We called for applications city-wide over a three-week window and received eight applicants from across the District, wonderfully qualified, passionate, and experienced people. A District sub-committee was tasked with evaluating the candidates and each Board Member received the applications. The final selection is planned for our Board Meeting on Tuesday September 14.”

DP: Tell me about your first impressions of the 2010 API results and how that guides what the District should do going forward.

DH: “I’m extremely proud of the School District and every site, and proud over the long haul because the test scores have gone up consecutively for the past eight years. This year most schools took a significant step forward. What that means to me is that we are on the right track as a District, that we are doing a lot of good things. Can we get better? Of course we can, we always can, I’ll never say there isn’t room for improvement.

“We need to ensure we are serving every student’s needs, which means every student is getting better – every student takes a step forward. That will be the challenge because we’ve had a mentality in the past to get everyone over the hurdle. What that says and what that means is that people farthest below the hurdle need to improve the most, and unfortunately what it can mean is that if you are already over the hurdle, congratulations, now take a seat, you don’t need to improve anymore.

“We need to change that philosophy and that mindset – and I don’t say that everyone has that philosophy but it’s just human nature to concentrate more on those that have to get over the hurdle than those who are already over the hurdle. An example of how we are changing that mindset is Dublin High School’s Advanced Scholar Diploma, we’re one of the first Districts in the State of California to create such a diploma. Other States lead California in this area and Dublin is now at the forefront of California. We need to reward students for high achievement and incentivize them to continuing improving.”

DP: There has been a huge investment in the high school that is approaching another milestone. Talk about the Dublin High School renewal project and next steps in the coming year.

DH: “We are going to be opening our new gymnasium, which is adjacent to our new football, soccer and track stadium, in late October, hopefully before the end of our volleyball season so our girls can get in one volleyball game in the new gym. More importantly we’ll be opening the rest of our new classrooms, a completely renovated library and new administration offices all in December in time for the start of the Winter Semester in January. As soon as the school break starts in December we’ll be fast-moving into the new buildings which will take the cooperation and hard work of our entire District staff to make this happen. Starting the first day of the Winter Semester Dublin High students will be in all new classrooms. Everything except the cafeteria, performing arts center and quad will be new, and those will follow in the next two years.”

DP: What are the key reasons parents should consider Dublin as a great place to educate their kids?

DH: “Dublin is a great place to educate your kids because we have a community that cares deeply about public education. We have a community where you can be known as an individual. Our teachers know our students by name. Our Administrators know our students by name. We’re small enough to give personal attention. We’re not so big that you’re just a number or a body in the District. We care deeply and Dublin supports its schools considerably and that’s evidenced by the passage of Measure ‘C’ and Measure ‘L’, and the cooperation between the City of Dublin and the Dublin Unified School District, and by the passion of the community that cares about the success of every student.”

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