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. Get our students back in the classroom safely as soon as possible. Continue to work on giving EVERY student equal opportunity and leave NO student behind. Add additional CTE choices for our students who like applied learning and want job skills following high school and more rigorous courses for those students who want to have the opportunity to compete for acceptance at any college of their choice.
Q. How do you feel about the success of the distance learning being provided by the district?
A. We have really improved this fall from last spring when we thought it was only a temporary situation. We have acquired enough laptops for each and every student and hot spots for those students who do not have access to internet. We have added a lot of accountability, students are required to sign and remain online entire class period. Attendance is taken and follow up is enacted if a student misses class. The staff has worked very hard all summer to rewrite their classes for on line teaching. I think this is much tougher then in class teaching for all. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback but of course there is always more we can do.
Q. What would you do to improve distance learning for the students?
A. I worry about those students who are most at risk. This is a topic that the board discusses at every board meeting. The teams at all 3 high schools share this concern and are working to reach these students and find creative ways to keep them engaged and present. It is not perfect but it is a top goal for the whole team. If a student misses classes the teacher will reach out, counselor, principal and sometimes we ask that our resource officer visit to make sure all is ok. This is such a tough time for our students. We really need to get them back to some normalcy as soon as we can.
Q. What negative side effects from distance learning do you foresee?
A. Statistics say depression is way up with teenagers, at risk teens are not seeing mandated reporters so abuse and neglect of children is going unchecked. Parents are stressed more then ever, many losing jobs or cannot afford daycare and kids are left alone. This keeps me up at night. Again, we have to get our kids back to the classroom, on the field, in the shop classes, playing music, being creative and socializing with their peers. Our College bound students are not able to build their educational resume, student athletes that were working on athletic scholarships have been put on hold.
Q. And what policies would you like to see to mitigate those effects?
A. I think our governor needs to work harder on finding a way to get our students back on campus safely. We are willing to do whatever it takes, we just need to know what that is so we can open up. It is very frustrating. We have purchased masks, we have sanitizer and a janitorial plan, we have desks 6 feet apart and have a plan in place to start with 50% of the students on campus at a time…if there is more we need to do, they just need to tell us so we can get our kids back to the classroom. A lot of what we could do in the pass, we cannot do now. With COVID, home visits are not recommended, we are not allowed to have students on campus even for a one on one counselor or teacher meetings.
Q. What are your thoughts about students returning to campus?
A. See above.
Q. When allowed, will you seek a waiver to return?
A. I have been asking at every board meeting about waivers especially for our shop classes such as welding. It is impossible to zoom teach welding. Welding by nature has students 6 feet plus apart and every student is wearing a welding mask. Science labs, Floral, etc…all could follow COVID guidelines today.
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. All 3 of our high schools have their own unique educational offerings. GHS – new state of the art science building and remodeled ag rooms and engineering, Liberty Ranch – newly renovated Ag building with state of the art welding and floral shop. Estrallita – is embarking on a new way for continuing education.
Q. As recent events have put financial pressure on the district, how will you prioritize funding?
A. This topic takes up a lot of our board meetings. There is so much unknown. Unfortunately our politicians in California do not have public education as a priority. I have seen over the years many propositions claiming the money will “go to our schools” but we do not see it. As far as prioritizing, it always has to be student focused period. We are lucky to have a great team at our district that truly is student focused, I feel strongly, if needed, everyone would pitch in to insure our students do not suffer. They have through this pandemic and it will continue.
Q. CTE appears to be a major focus within the state and nationally, what are your plans to increase funding for CTE classes?
A. I am a big fan of CTE and proudly our high schools have been very successful with their CTE programs. We have been nationally recognized year in and year out. As a board we support that and hope to grow it even bigger in the future. Having a student focused budget has allowed us to put more money directly in the classroom.
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. Our superintendent is currently working with the new city manager on this very thing. We feel the high school is sometimes overlooked so we have a priority in making our voice heard so we are never overlooked again. It is a huge benefit to developers to have a very successful school district in their neighborhood and we need to remind of that and advocate for ourselves. This current board is making that a priority and our superintendent is already working on a plan with all the projected growth. This could come as a new JPA, but there are also other one time fees that could be considered, land donation, etc. It is front and center with this board.
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. Isn’t it exciting, even with limitations that have come with this pandemic, our staff and students have excelled. I admire the tenacity of our staff and students. I think the sky is the limit. We have a staff that is always trying to improve and an administration and board that is very supportive.
Q. How would you ease the transition from 8th grade to high school?
A. We currently have the ‘Link Crew’, upper classman that pair with an incoming freshman. We have had this for some time. In a normal school year, the upper classman will meet the incoming freshman on the first day of school and show them where their classes are, exchange contact information and keep in contact. There are events and gathering planned throughout the year to give support to our new students. This year is different, but I do see that the upper classman are still reaching out with their paired student and they are planning online events.
Q. How would you ensure students feel safe and free from bullying and racism?
A. Zero tolerance! I believe all 3 principals take bullying and racism very seriously and we have had staff training on this. It is so hard because a lot of this is done outside of school. Social media has really escalated this. I think this will be an ongoing issue that we will always be seeking ways of curtailing but I go back to zero tolerance, set a precedent and work with parents to support us and monitor their children’s social media.