(Reader note: This is the fourth in a series of weekly suggestions or talking points to help improve school and/or student performance. I am posting these because I want you to see that as your new school board member, I plan to be very active and engaged. No other candidate is offering weekly suggestions during this election cycle.)

My living is made as a writer. I work with physicians and others in the medical field to help them grow their businesses. I write brochures, ads, e-mail blasts, social media content, blogs, and… website copy. I’m tell you this not so you can inform your otolaryngologist brother-in-law, but because when it comes to creating a website, I have a lot of experience.

The website for the NMUSD is suffering from mission drift. Mission drift is the failure to address the needs of the target audience in a way that inspires or engages them. Put succinctly, mission drift is complacency and it is a common development in mature websites.

Start with the top story for today, August 26, which is a breakfast presentation on September 24. The breakfast is on a weekday before we go to work and it costs $32 to attend. 

The breakfast is the first annual inaugural “State of the Schools” address by Superintendent Navarro and while I like the idea, the execution is questionable:

1) It is during the week.

2) It is in the morning when many parents are struggling to herd their cats – sorry, kids – off to school and then go to work.

3) There is a price for the event. It seems to me that if Gov. Brown and President Obama can give their “state” messages for free, that our superintendent should do that as well. This presentation should be free. And what if I really want to attend but can’t afford it?

But the “state” event is not the main issue with the website. The main issue is that we are less than a week away from welcoming kids back to school and prominently on the home page, we should be reading things such as:

1) An online checklist for parents with things they need to do (vaccinations, supplies, etc.).

2) A story on the habits of “A” students (They eat breakfast, they get enough sleep, etc.).

3) Instead of making parents work to find it, post ANYTHING on the home page that supports parents and students to make the transition to school easier.

Instead, there is a pitch for a fundraiser for a speech that should be free. (BTW, the fundraiser is for the Newport-Mesa Schools Foundation, which is an outstanding organization that has been very supportive of our schools over the years. The N-MSF is not the issue here.)

This week’s suggestion: Get a fresh set of experienced eyes on the website to make specific, tactical recommendations on how it can better serve parents and students.


My name is Steve Smith and I am a candidate for the school board seat in Area 1. I am a 28-year resident of Costa Mesa, a former columnist for the Daily Pilot newspaper (16 years) who wrote frequently on school issues, and the father of two children.

My candidacy supports:

  • School improvement, particularly on Costa Mesa’s Westside,
  • Increased communication
  • Increased transparency
  • Less complacency and indifference

Your vote on November 4 is appreciated.

Thank you.