Editor’s note: All candidates were asked the same questions and were given the same amount of time to submit their answers. Answers are posted as they were received from each candidate. Questions were asked before Sacramento County was moved to the Red Tier on the State’s four-tiered Blueprint for Safer Economy plan. Most candidates answered all questions, other candidates chose not to answer some questions.
Q. If elected, what will be your top three goals?
A. To continue to support and maintain the high quality education, programs and schools within our district, while also maintaining a level of fiscal responsibility. To facilitate the return to on campus learning as soon as possible and to do it in a manner that is healthy and responsible for our students, teachers, staff and community. To continue to work well with my fellow board members in a professional and respectful manner. To lead by example.
Q. How do you feel about the success of the distance learning being provided by the district? What would you do to improve distance learning for the students?
A. Distance learning is something that no one could have ever imagined we would find ourselves needing. However, with that said, I have been extremely impressed with the time and effort that our teachers, staff and administrations have put in to making it a success. They worked very hard over the summer to come up with a plan that wasn’t just going to be “good enough”, but one that would be a success. Our teachers and staff are continuing to work extremely hard to provide a high quality education to our students. I am proud of them.
Q. What negative side effects from distance learning do you foresee? And what policies would you like to see to mitigate those effects?
A. I have said repeatedly that distance learning cannot equal in person classroom learning. I am highly concerned that there will be learning loss as a result of the distance learning. Does that mean that our students will be 6 months behind? 3 months behind? I am not sure anyone knows. But it is something that we have to be cognizant of. I am also concerned about the anxiety, stress and depression that it is creating. I have been and continue to be a very vocal supporter of our Employee Assistance Program for our staff as well as making sure students know that our school psychologists and nurses are available to them, whether the students are on campus or not.
Q. What are your thoughts about students returning to campus?
A. Every single member of our school board has stated that we want students back on campus. Our staff looked at and developed well thought out plans on what would be required when we get the ok to return students to campus. We are prepared to move forward and implement those plans as soon as we can. However, everyone needs to understand that there are several moving parts that have to come together for this to happen. We continue to follow the Sacramento County covid-19 numbers and work closely with Public Health and County office of Education.
Q. When allowed, will you seek a waiver to return?
A. There have been discussions regarding seeking a waiver. As of right now, high schools in Sacramento County have not been allowed to seek a waiver. If and when we can, what that exactly looks like may vary. If it is possible, I would hope that we could request waivers for certain programs to return to campus on a limited basis prior to a full implementation of a hybrid model or full return. For example, I would like to see our shop classes, lab classes, arts and special education classes get waivers as soon as possible. As of right now, only elementary schools have received waivers and most of those have been private schools.
Q. Now that GHS has a top of the line science building that any “college would be envious” of, how will you ensure equity between high schools?
A. I believe equity is more about giving everyone what they need to succeed. In my opinion, we already achieve that with our top quality teachers and programs which we are fortunate to have at all of our schools. They are the ones who are providing our students with the tools to succeed, no matter which building they are in. And our students continue to show that success is something they are really good at.
Q. As recent events have put financial pressure on the district, how will you prioritize funding?
A. Students first! Every decision I have made during my time on the board has been based on how it would affect the students. That will be my view in the coming budget discussions as well. The district has already been taking many steps towards saving money now. Many small simple steps will add up quickly. Things like turning off AC units in empty classrooms, savings on fuel for busses and others can really add up. But the fact also remains, that we need our schools to receive full and fair funding from the state. Something that doesn’t even happen in good years. Which is why, I will continue to also reach out to our state legislators and continue to pressure them for better funding.
Q. CTE appears to be a major focus within the state and nationally, what are your plans to increase funding for CTE classes?
A. CTE classes have proven to be highly successful, especially in our district. I am and continue to be a strong supporter of these classes. We are currently adding 2 new CTE classrooms to the Ag buildings on the GHS campus. It should be noted that the district is always pursuing additional grants and funding for CTE. We are currently looking at a grant that we would be the fiscal agents for. That would benefit us financially and would be a big help with our CTE programs. What I would like to see is the district go in the direction of expanding the types of CTE classes currently offered. Not every student will go to college, but the skills and knowledge they can pick up in our CTE classes will help them be better prepared to enter the job market.
Q. As the current JPA is drawing to a close and new development continues to come to our area impacting the districts, would you be in favor of creating a new JPA, making bonds for additional funding on new development?
A. I have been fortunate to sit on the JPA board since being elected as a trustee in 2016. The current JPA has served its purpose and has helped both the High School and Elementary districts. The JPA board spent a considerable amount of time during the last couple years examining all options for the current CFD. We made a decision that will actually end up ending the JPA a year earlier than if we did nothing. This decision leads to a savings of $1.7 million dollars for those residents who have been paying into the current CFD. It is important to know that the districts would not see that money even if we went for the additional year.I am not sure if a new JPA of CFD is the right direction to go for the future, however all options are on the table and it will be examined. I would want to make sure whatever direction we go, it will be what is best for our schools and our community.
Q. The district has received international accolades recently, has had new facilities built, existing buildings upgraded and modified and students receiving national recognition for various accomplishments, what’s next? What would you like to change or improve?
A. Our district has been working hard the last couple of years to provide our students with a top quality high school education. When you see the awards and the new facilities you can’t help but have a sense of pride. But it is important to understand that this has been a group effort. Our amazing teachers and staff, our district leadership, our parent groups and especially our students have joined together and worked hard for all of this success. Every year I am always left in awe of the students we have in our district. Each year it seems like the talents and achievements of our students just continue to grow. And it is up to us as a board, to continue to support our teachers and programs. I believe the best is yet to come.
Q. How would you ease the transition from 8th grade to high school?
A. That can be a hard and scary transition for some students. I think our district has done a great job over the years by working to make all students feel safe, comfortable and welcomed on our campuses. We have older students, usually seniors who participate in what is called Link Crew. Its goal is to connect with new students to help them feel a bigger part of the school. I think this group and their advisors do a great job and you can see the difference it makes in the lives of many of our students.
Q. How would you ensure students feel safe and free from bullying and racism?
A. Bullying and racism have both been around for far too long. The reality is, there is no place for it in today’s world. Both should have a zero tolerance. With all of the new technology that exist today, with everyone having a camera on their phones, the opportunity for cyber bullying is ever present. No one should ever be made to feel as if they are less of a person by anyone. It is not right. It will not be tolerated. As a district it is important that we take a stand against bullying and racism. We must make it clear to our students that we will not tolerate it. We must also make sure that our students know who they can turn to and who they can talk to if they ever feel that they are the victims of bullying or racism.