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 Life-long Educator Jerry Rindone Reflects on his Board Service

​Jerry Rindone began his service on the San Diego County Board of Education in December 2008 after many years of involvement in education and civic service.

Rindone says he believes the board should be “hands-on” in confronting issues in education. “Good information, good questions, and leadership from the board make for a better organization. We have to strive to be better, examine areas of strength and areas we want to enhance, particularly in these difficult and challenging times for education dollars.”

Read on for more reflections on his tenure as a County Board trustee.

Why did you initially decide to run for the County Board of Education?
I’m a life-long educator; I spent 38 years in the Sweetwater Union High School District as a teacher, school principal and assistant superintendent. I see education as the great equalizer, particularly for those who have limited access and resources. Education allows anybody to reach their passion and advance; it’s only limited by their motivation to succeed.

And what did you find when you got here? How would you characterize SDCOE employees?
Our JCCS teachers serve the most challenged population out there. We have a very small window with students come to us to turn them around so they can be taxpayers, not tax receivers. It’s the noblest program in education. 

And really, all County Office staff are exceptional. They’re not just above average, they’re truly exceptional. I’ve been very impressed by their dedication, hard work and professionalism exemplified through the entire organization.

What have you enjoyed most about being a board member?
There are three things. First is being able to share my commitment to education and to serving underserved/challenged populations. Second is discovering the strong staff in SDCOE departments serving in a variety of areas. Third would be the Academic Decathlon program.

How did you get into Academic Decathlon?
When I was principal at Hilltop High, our students won the competition. It was the first time students from a school “South of the 8,” the first time students form a minority majority school, had ever won. I was very proud of that. The first year I was on the Board, I went to the reception and felt we could do better. If athletes won recognition for an athletic pursuit, they’d have all sorts of honors. These scholars deserve the same.

You’ve help raise more than $35,000 to support the program in the last four years. How gratifying is that?
It’s been a thrill to ensure that the program is the very best. Now there’s an anticipation of the event, which has the dual benefits of getting more students to participate and duly recognizing those students who’re the best of the best.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing public education today?
The shortfall of funding. I’m glad to see Prop. 30 passed, but it’s created a new potential political problem for us, because people think, “we fixed the funding problem for public education” when really it ensured we remained funded at the same level as before, which is lower than ever in the past.

It’s unacceptable that our Average Daily Attendance pay rate is 47th in the nation. If we continue to fund it that way, we’ll have academic results that put us 47th in the nation, too.

People want a good education system regardless of their background. I think that’s a core value that’s made America great. We have to make sure we deliver a good value within the resources we have.

What’s next for you, now that your term is up?
I will always find ways to continue making a difference in education. It’s not talking a good game, it’s doing a good job.

I’m President of the Laurels for Leaders board and in January will take over as President of the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce. They are two avenues that allow me to be in leadership roles to help make a difference in the community.

And personally?
I’m getting married in May. I’m going to start paying a little attention to my personal life. I also want to travel more; we’ll be going to Italy on our honeymoon.

Thank you, Jerry Rindone, for your service on behalf of San Diego County student​s!​