New PUSD superintendent looks to take on district challenges

Posted at 7:40 PM, Apr 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-04 22:40:50-04

POWAY, Calif. (KGTV) - The new superintendent of Poway Unified School District says she has the experience to take on the district's challenges. 

Dr. Marian Kim-Phelps grew up in Huntington Beach, but spent decades San Diego. 

"Poway is a great district and I had spent all of my adult life in San Diego and so I've always wanted to come back to San Diego. My husband and daughter live in San Diego," said Kim-Phelps during an interview in her office Tuesday. 

Kim-Phelps spent 25 years as a teacher and administrator in the San Diego Unified School District.  She was the superintendent of the Westminster School District in Orange County since 2013. 

"I believe that my experiences and the things that I went through in Westminster really helped prepare me for the challenges here in Poway," said Kim-Phelps. 

One of those challenges involves Poway's infamous billion dollar bond mess. The $105 million dollar bond used to renovate schools will cost taxpayers roughly a billion dollars when it's finally paid back in 2051.

Kim-Phelps says she dealt with a similar issue in Orange County, but on a smaller scale. 

"We hired a new financial advisor, a new banker, new underwriter, bond council and we worked toward developing a refinancing plan that ended up helping the district save over $5 million over the life of the loan for our taxpayers," said Kim-Phelps.

She's exploring options regarding Poway's bond. 

"I'm investigating different creative ways that we can look at repackaging the financing that was done on that so that we can ultimately save our taxpayers and community members money in the long run," said Kim-Phelps. 

She's confident she can restore the community's trust. 

"It's about transparency, communication, it's about evaluating and looking at the processes and policies that are in place and then setting up systems of accountability to ensure that we're all following them and that people are adhering to them," said Kim-Phelps. 

The school board was not unanimous in its decision to hire her. Two trustees voted against her selection.

"Everyone asks why would you take a job where you're going into a split board situation, but the reality is, it's not personal, it's primarily pretty political," said Kim-Phelps. 

Her first priority is to complete a listening and learning tour of all the school sites, meet with parents and community leaders.

Kim-Phelps lives in Rancho San Diego with her husband and 10-year-old daughter.