The Coast News Group
Superintendent Lindy Delaney, right, swears in Scott Kahn to fill longstanding Rancho Santa Fe School District board member Richard Burdge’s seat. Burdge officially resigned last week. Photo by Christina Macone-Greene
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RSF School District board votes Kahn in to fill vacancy

RANCHO SANTA FE — On May 16, Rancho Santa Fe School District Superintendent Lindy Delaney issued a letter to parents announcing that Richard Burdge, a longstanding board member for the school district, had resigned.

In her letter, Delaney wrote, “During Richard’s years on the Board, he played an instrumental role in maintaining the highest standards possible for the education of our students. Among his many contributions, he was involved in the successful passage of bond measures, renovation of the current site, obtaining $8.2 million from the State of California for modernization and new construction, acquisition of property adjacent to the Rowe Campus, the refunding of the 2004 and 2008 GO Bonds, and helping the District maintain a strong fiscal position through one of the most challenging times this District has ever encountered.”

While Delaney wished Burdge and his family the very best, since Burdge’s seat had been vacated between elections, the RSF school district called for a special meeting on May 17 to discuss the issue.

It was unanimously decided that qualified applicants should submit their interest for the board seat by May 19, followed by “Open Session” interviews at a special board meeting on May 20.

Interested candidates included Chris Blatt, Kyle Jones, Scott Kahn, Kyri Van Hoose and Brian Vincik. Following open session interviews on May 20, Scott Kahn was chosen to fill the vacancy by board president Tyler Seltzer, clerk Marti Ritto and board member Todd Buchner. Vice President Todd Frank abstained.

Shortly thereafter, Superintendent Lindy Delaney swore Kahn into his new role.

In the interview, Kahn said serving the school board was something he was thinking about since he retired and now had the extra time to do so.

“A notion of serving the school board was quite attractive,” Kahn said.

While the process was a bit more accelerated than what he had planned, Kahn said, it was very much aligned with where he wanted to go.

During the interview, Kahn touched upon his brief background in education when serving as an assistant professor for a couple years in the field of chemistry. He believed that he brought a set of skills that were different than the current board members. Over the years, his career segued into science and technology and spent the last 20 years in the corporate world of science.

On the business side of things, Kahn mentioned his involvement in multiple levels of administration, managing performance, and collecting information and different perspectives in any decision making process.

“I feel strongly that science and technology is one of the things that will propel the world forward and I would like our kids to be part of that activity,” he said, noting how his background could contribute to this.

In terms of finding a new superintendent to replace Delaney in the months ahead, Kahn believed the individual needed to be a strong administrator but also have the ability to engage the community.

“If we have a superintendent that is the best administrator in the entire world, but is not good at engaging the community, I don’t think they are going to be successful here,” Kahn said. He added, “That is such an important element in a superintendent’s job.”

Prior to the open session interviews, the school district’s attorney, Richard Currier, explained the process of filling a vacant seat on the school board at both the May 17 and May 20 meeting.

“Getting a new board member is not hiring an employee. You don’t do it in a closed session,” he said on May 17. “The board then interviews them and the board engages in whatever discuss they want to and the board takes action to a point.”

According to Currier, the general rule is that the board appoints someone when there is vacancy within sixty days because special elections are expensive. Since an election was coming up in November, avoiding a special election was the general practice.

Kahn will be serving until November, and if he chooses to run for the next term, he can do so with any other interested candidates with the new term beginning in December.