Headshot of Board President Michael Marino

Hello CSS families,

For those who are new to the school or that I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, my name is Michael Marino. I serve on the school board along with four other parents at our school. My wife Erika and I have two boys at CSS and a third who will be in kindergarten next year. Like many of you, tired of city life, we moved from NYC to Montecito five years ago to be a part of this special little place. As it turns out, that was one of the best decisions of our life together, as we have fallen in love with Cold Spring and all of the of the wonderful people we have met.

At last month’s School Board meeting, I was elected Board president by my fellow trustees. It is an absolute honor to be trusted with so much responsibility and my promise to the Cold Spring community is that I will do whatever I can to honor Cold Spring’s mission of providing “a quality educational program in a secure family atmosphere, which fosters a balance of academic achievement, healthy personal development, social and environmental responsibility, and enthusiasm for lifelong learning.” It is my goal as Board president to make sure that we satisfy that mission while ensuring that the district and Board are fiscally responsible, transparent with our actions, and responsive to not just the parents at the school but the to the community at large as well.

To that end, I want to take a moment to share a letter I wrote that will be appearing in tomorrow’s Montecito Journal. I posted it below in full and hope that you will take a moment to read it. The letter addresses the recent attacks on the school, teachers, administration, and school board. These false accusations have had a very real personal impact on our teachers and administrators and they tarnish the great reputation of our school. Instead of celebrating accomplishments such as being one of the first and only schools to open for full-time, in person instruction and being the highest performing school district in California, our administration has had to spend a tremendous number of hours and taxpayer dollars cleaning up the mess a few misguided individuals have created. The endless personal attacks and false accusations only serve to distract and demoralize the same people who are educating our children. It is my hope that by bringing all this to light and setting the record straight, we can put this in the past and begin to come together as a community.

We encourage and benefit from community input. As a Board, we are not perfect, but we try our hardest to make the best decisions we can. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me, reach out Dr. Alzina directly, or send a note to the entire Board at

Thank you,

Michael Marino
Cold Spring School District Board President

Setting the Record Straight

Opinion Column by CSS Board President Michael Marino

Cold Spring School has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the best public elementary schools in California. Year after year, we have earned high honors for student achievement, family engagement, innovative instruction, and effective administration. Our students are given an exceptional foundation for life-long learning and they excel in junior high, high school, and beyond.

Cold Spring School is a strong community asset that enhances the quality of life and economic vitality in our neighborhoods and brings tremendous value to the residents and property owners it serves. Cold Spring is a small school with a BIG reputation.

This pattern of success is being impugned by a few community critics whose attacks on district leaders rely on unsubstantiated allegations, misrepresentation of facts, and outright lies. These individuals are attempting to fabricate fake news to malign the integrity of district administrators, cast doubts about the fiscal practices of CSS, and disrupt the educational focus of the district.  Op Ed pieces that include false information, often by fictitious individuals, are being portrayed as fact. 

The shameful campaign of character assassination, baseless conspiracy theories, and wanton disregard for the truth is destructive to our community and does not represent who we are.

Oversight and implementation of the Cold Spring School Measure C facilities bond has complied with management best practices, all state laws and regulations, and generally accepted accounting principles. To falsely claim, without a shred of evidence, that a forensic audit is needed to “uncover” alleged mistakes and errors is insulting, unnecessary, and an affront to the many community leaders who have worked tirelessly over the years to enhance our excellent school district.

All Measure C funds and developer fees have been used appropriately with transparency to advance the educational quality of the CSS learning experience. But please don’t just take my word for it. The facts are posted on our district website ( for everyone to see. These critics have had full access to this information all along . . . they just choose to disregard it.

Cold Spring School’s teachers, staff, and administration work tirelessly to ensure that our children are receiving the highest quality education in a safe and secure environment. However, what truly makes a Cold Spring education so special is the promotion of respect and kindness towards one another above all else. As we reflect recent national events and the three year anniversary of the January 9th debris flow right here in Montecito, I hope that our community can learn a lesson from our children and renew our unity of purpose and start treating each other with more respect and kindness.