ENCINITAS — A former Encinitas Union School District board member will throw her hat in the ring for a board position in the neighboring San Dieguito Union High School District in the November general election, challenging incumbent Trustee Maureen “Mo” Muir.
Rimga Viskanta announced her candidacy for the Area 1 seat on Friday, sharing her goals to reestablish good governance practices in the embattled district facing a gerrymandering lawsuit, the recent firing of its superintendent, and a school board short one member following a sudden resignation.
“I can no longer watch from the sidelines as current school board leadership at SDUHSD creates chaos and national headlines for its dysfunction in a school district that otherwise has a stellar reputation,” Viskanta said.
Area 1 covers the northwest portion of the district, including Leucadia and northern Encinitas. The redrawn area boundaries in the district’s adopted trustee area map pull the eastern edge of Area 1 down past Santa Fe Drive to Manchester Avenue, an area formerly included in Area 3.
The residents in the area elect trustees they are running to represent but serve in an at-large capacity once they are on the board.
Viskanta is a senior management analyst for the city of Solana Beach and holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Southern California. She served one four-year term on the Encinitas Union district board from 2016 to 2020, holding the title of board president in her last year, and opted not to run for re-election to focus on her career.
However, Viskanta again felt called to school board governance after noticing areas for improvement in San Dieguito over the past year. She said that inconsistency in board policies regarding things like public comment had created confusion and tension among constituents.
“I have been in government basically my whole career. I firmly believe in good governance and that when it’s done well, it shouldn’t be noticed. San Dieguito was known for a while just as a well-performing school district. Then we see all these news stories, and we see the meetings, and I felt that the way they were being run was chaotic and that typical processes were not being followed.
“I saw this opportunity, knowing that I love school board work and I like governance. I thought, ‘I can do that, and that can happen,” she recalled.
Highlighted in her platform are commitments to fiscal responsibility and management, student mental health, and welcoming school environments.
With the district currently running on a budget deficit, Viskanta said she would like to see more periodic budget workshops throughout the year to ensure things stay on track rather than hashing out the complicated budget during “marathon long meetings.” She also advocated for a more comprehensive analysis of average daily student attendance, which, while an imperfect system, ultimately determines state funding.
“I want to establish a process, making sure we are giving ourselves enough time to have a deep discussion around things surrounding the budget and making sure everyone can give input. I think setting aside time with special workshops is a good way to do that,” she said.
When it comes to mental health, Viskanta said she would like to see the district prioritize feedback from their school counselors and mental health professionals to identify areas for improvement.
Muir, who was first elected to the San Dieguito board in 2014 and currently serves as board president, is running for her third term. She also served on the Encinitas Union board from 2008 to 2014, before her current role, although she and Viskanta did not overlap in their terms.
San Dieguito’s Area 5 seat will also be on the ballot in November. Incumbent Julie Bronstein will face off against challenger Phan Anderson, a district parent.
The board’s Area 3 seat is also vacant since the resignation of Melisse Mossy in April.