Desert Sands Unified School District, California

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Desert Sands Unified School District
Riverside County, California
Desert Sands Unified School District seal.jpg
District Profile
Superintendent:Gary Rutherford
Enrollment:29,156 students
Graduation rate:85.6%[1]
Number of schools:36
Budget: $213.2 million
Website:School Home Page
Board of Education
Board president:Michael Alexander Duran
Board members:5
Term length:4

Desert Sands Unified School District is a school district in California that served 29,156 students during the 2013-2014 school year.[2] This district is the 37th-largest by enrollment in the state of California.

About the district

Desert Sands Unified School District is located in Riverside County, California.

Desert Sands Unified School District is located in Riverside County, California. The county seat of Riverside County is Riverside. Riverside County was home to 2,292,507 residents in 2013, according to the United States Census Bureau.[3]


Riverside County underperformed compared to the rest of California in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 20.5 percent of Riverside County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 30.5 percent for California as a whole. The median household income for Riverside County was $57,096 compared to $61,400 for the state of California. The percentage of people below poverty level for Riverside County was 15.6 percent while it was 15.3 percent for the state of California.[3]

Racial Demographics, 2013[3]
Race Riverside County (%) California (%)
White 80.7 73.5
Black or African American 7.0 6.6
American Indian and Alaska Native 1.9 1.7
Asian 6.7 14.1
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 0.4 0.5
Two or more race 3.3 3.7
Hispanic or Latino 46.9 38.4

Presidential Voting Pattern, Riverside County[4]
Year Democratic Vote Republican Vote
2012 329,063 318,127
2008 325,017 310,041
2004 228,806 322,473
2000 202,614 232,029

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[5] This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.


Gary Rutherford has been the superintendent of the Desert Sands Unified School District since February 2013. Before taking the position, Rutherford served as superintendent of the Upland Unified School District from 2005-2012. His starting salary with the Desert Sands Unified School District was $242,000 a year.[6]

School board

The Desert Sands Unified School District Board of Education consists of five members elected to four-year terms by specific geographic trustee areas. Prior to the 2014 general election, candidates for the school board were elected at-large. The trustee areas will come into effect once members are sworn into office for a new term in December 2014.[7][8]

Desert Sands Unified Board of Education
Member Trustee Area Assumed office Term Ends
Michael Alexander Duran At-Large 2006 2018
Wendy S. Jonathan At-Large 2012 2016
Donald B. Griffith At-Large 2010 2018
Matt Monica At-Large 2004 2016
Gary Tomak At-Large 1999 2016

School board elections

See also: Desert Sands Unified School District elections (2014)

Members from the Desert Sands Unified Board of Education are elected to four-year terms on a staggered basis every even-number year. The seats from Trustee Areas 2 and 5 were up for election in 2014, and the seats from Trustee Areas 1, 3 and 4 will be up for election in 2016.[9]

Public participation in board meetings

The Desert Sands Unified Board of Education maintains the following policy on public testimony during board meetings:

Members of the public are encouraged to attend Board meetings and to address the Board concerning any item on the agenda or within the Board's jurisdiction. So as not to inhibit public participation, persons attending Board meetings shall not be requested to sign in, complete a questionnaire, or otherwise provide their name or other information as a condition of attending the meeting.

In order to conduct district business in an orderly and efficient manner, the Board requires that public presentations to the Board comply with the following procedures:

1. The Board shall give members of the public an opportunity to address the Board either before or during the Board's consideration of each item of business to be discussed at regular or special meetings. (Education Code 35145.5, Government Code 54954.3)

2. At a time so designated on the agenda, members of the public may bring before the Board, at a regular meeting, matters that are not listed on the agenda. The Board may refer such a matter to the Superintendent or designee or take it under advisement, but shall not take action at that time except as allowed by law. The matter may be placed on the agenda of a subsequent meeting for action or discussion by the Board. (Education Code 35145.5, Government Code 54954.2)

3. Without taking action, Board members or district staff members may briefly respond to statements made or questions posed by the public about items not appearing on the agenda. Additionally, on their own initiative or in response to questions posed by the public, a Board or staff member may ask a question for clarification, make a brief announcement, or make a brief report on his/her own activities. (Government Code 54954.2)

Furthermore, the Board or a Board member may provide a reference to staff or other resources for factual information, ask staff to report back to the Board at a subsequent meeting concerning any matter, or take action directing staff to place a matter of business on a future agenda. (Government Code 54954.2)

4. The Board need not allow the public to speak on any item that has already been considered by a committee composed exclusively of Board members at a public meeting where the public had the opportunity to address the committee on that item. However, if the Board determines that the item has been substantially changed since the committee heard it, the Board shall provide an opportunity for the public to speak. (Government Code 54954.3)

(cf. 9130 - Board Committees)

5. A person wishing to be heard by the Board shall first be recognized by the president and shall then proceed to comment as briefly as the subject permits.

Individual speakers shall be allowed three minutes to address the Board on each agenda or nonagenda item. The Board shall limit the total time for public input on each item to 10 minutes. With Board consent, the president may increase or decrease the time allowed for public presentation, depending on the topic and the number of persons wishing to be heard. The president may take a poll of speakers for or against a particular issue and may ask that additional persons speak only if they have something new to add.

6. The Board president may rule on the appropriateness of a topic. If the topic would be more suitably addressed at a later time, the president may indicate the time and place when it should be presented.

The Board shall not prohibit public criticism of its policies, procedures, programs, services, acts or omissions. (Government Code 54954.3)

Whenever a member of the public initiates specific complaints or charges against an employee, the Board president shall inform the complainant that in order to protect the employee's right to adequate notice before a hearing of such complaints and charges, and also to preserve the ability of the Board to legally consider the complaints or charges in any subsequent evaluation of the employee, it is the policy of the Board to hear such complaints or charges in closed session unless otherwise requested by the employee pursuant to Government Code 54957.

(cf. 1312.1 - Complaints Concerning District Employees)

(cf. 9321 - Closed Session Purposes and Agendas)

7. The Board president shall not permit any disturbance or willful interruption of Board meetings. Persistent disruption by an individual or group shall be grounds for the chair to terminate the privilege of addressing the Board. The Board may remove disruptive individuals and order the room cleared if necessary; in this case, members of the media not participating in the disturbance shall be allowed to remain, and individual(s) not participating in such disturbances may be allowed to remain at the discretion of the Board. When the room is ordered cleared due to a disturbance, further Board proceedings shall concern only matters appearing on the agenda. (Government Code 54957.9)

(cf. 9324 - Minutes and Recordings)[10]

—Desert Sands Unified School District website, (2014)[11]


The table below displays the budget for Desert Sands Unified School District:[12]

Expenditures by Category
School Year Staff Expenses Student Services Operational Expenses Debt Service Other Budget Total
Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget Total % of Budget
2009-2010 $188,020,510 87.9% $8,598,512 4% $17,273,136 8.1% $0 0% $83,385 0% $213,975,543
2010-2011 $181,059,368 86.9% $8,383,928 4% $18,974,127 9.1% $0 0% $180,215 0.1% $208,237,208
2011-2012 $188,690,374 86.8% $10,538,638 4.8% $17,326,494 8% $0 0% $809,956 0.4% $217,365,462
2012-2013 $188,447,688 88.4% $6,840,768 3.2% $17,873,040 8.4% $0 0% $25,331 0% $213,186,827
Averages: $186,554,485 88% $8,590,461.5 4% $17,861,699.25 8% $0 0% $274,721.75 0% $213,191,260

Teacher salaries

Desert Sands Unified School District employed 1,178 teachers in the 2011-2012 school year.[13] Teacher salaries are categorized based on higher education achievement, professional development and years of service. A teacher with a bachelor's degree can earn higher salaries by pursuing graduate courses with raises at credit intervals. The salary schedule also accounts for graduate degrees by providing higher starting salaries and greater potential salaries. The table below shows the salary schedule for teachers in the Desert Sands Unified School District for the 2014-2015 school year.[14]

Salary structure
Degree level Minimum salary ($) Maximum salary ($)
B.A. 43,967.00 56,073.00
B.A. + 30 46,996.00 65,926.00
B.A. + 45 or M.A. 50,016.00 73,756.00
B.A. + 60 50,016.00 77,554.00
B.A. + 75 50,016.00 84,220.00
B.A. + 90 (including M.A. or doctorate) 50,016.00 87,354.00

Schools in Desert Sands Unified School District


Desert Sands Unified School District served 29,156 students during the 2013-2014 school year.[2]

Total enrollment
Year Enrollment Year-to-year change (%)
2009-2010 29,323 -
2010-2011 29,123 -0.69
2011-2012 29,199 0.26
2012-2013 29,159 -0.14
2013-2014 29,156 -0.01

District schools

Desert Sands Unified School District operates 36 schools, which are listed below in alphabetical order:[15]

Desert Sands Unified School District
School Name
Carrillo Ranch
Desert Ridge
Dr. Carreon
Horizon Elementary
Horizon High
Horizon Middle
Indio High
Indio Middle
La Quinta High
La Quinta Middle
Palm Desert High
Palm Desert Middle
Shadow Hills
Van Buren

Academic performance

California STAR program

California's Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program, which includes the California Standards Tests, the California Modified Assessment and the California Alternate Performance Assessment, measures student achievement in grades two through 11 for California's academic content standards. STAR results include English-language arts and mathematics in grades two through 11, science in grades five and eight through 11 and history and social science in grades eight, 10 and 11. In high school, math and science tests reflect the course in which the student is enrolled. There are five STAR performance benchmarks to indicate a student's academic proficiency. "Proficient" or "Advanced" indicates that a student is meeting or exceeding state standards. The table below shows the percentage of students in the district who scored proficient or advanced during the 2012-2013 school year.[1]

STAR Results, % of Proficient/Advanced Students, 2012-2013
Subject District (%) State average (%)
English-Language Arts 58 55
Mathematics 53 50
Science 63 59
History and Social Science 48 49


District named in student exercise lawsuit

The Desert Sands Unified School District, along with 36 other school districts across the state, was named in a lawsuit alleging the district's students were not getting enough exercise. The state mandates schools give students in kindergarten through sixth grade 200 minutes of exercise every 10 days of class, in addition to lunch and recess. The lawsuit was filed by Marc Babin and the nonprofit organization Cal200, which he heads.[16] An attorney for districts named in the case said Babin did not have a relationship with Desert Sands Unified School District before filing the lawsuit.[17]

Babin, a parent and resident of Alameda, settled with the 37 school districts named in the lawsuit. The settlement requires California elementary schools to prove they are providing children with at least the state-mandated minimum number of minutes of physical education. To do this, school districts will publicly document physical education minutes.[18]

Final approval of the settlement must be granted by San Francisco Superior Court Judge Mary Wiss, a decision which is expected to be given by the end of March 2015.[18]

Contact information

Desert Sands Unified School District seal.jpg

Desert Sands Unified School District
47-950 Dune Palms Rd
La Quinta, CA 92253
Phone: 760-777-4200

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ed-Data, "District Reports: Accountability (API/AYP/Performance)," accessed November 19, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ed Data, "District Reports: Profile of District," accessed November 19, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 United States Census Bureau, "Riverside County, California," accessed July 3, 2014
  4. County of Riverside Registrar of Voters, "Past Elections," accessed July 3, 2014
  5. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  6. Daily Bulletin, "Upland Unified School District superintendent leaving for Desert Sands," December 11, 2012
  7. Desert Sands Unified School District, "Board Members," accessed November 19, 2014
  8. Riverside County Office of Education, "Desert Sands Unified shifts from at-large voting to avoid lawsuit," October 15, 2013
  9. Riverside County Registrar of Voters, "Contest/Candidate Proof List Consolidated General Election," accessed September 9, 2014
  10. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  11. Desert Sands Unified School District, "BB 9323 Board Bylaws: Meeting Conduct," accessed November 19, 2014
  12. Education Data Partnership, "Desert Sands Unified School District," accessed December 8, 2014
  13. Ed Data, "District Reports: Teacher Salaries," accessed November 19, 2014
  14. Desert Sands Unified School District, "Certified Salary Schedule," accessed November 19, 2014
  15. Desert Sands Unified School District, "Schools," accessed November 19, 2014
  16. Channel 3 News, "Local school districts face lawsuit over PE teachings," August 6, 2014
  17. The Desert Sun, "Mystery group sues over school physical education," July 8, 2014
  18. 18.0 18.1 Ed Source, "Lawsuit agreement to force schools to provide physical education," February 1, 2015