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School board candidates voice opinions

By: The Community Voice Staff
November 2, 2018

The Community Voice Questions: Leffler Brown

What is your campaign platform? My campaign platform is to provide an inclusive environment for students, teachers, parents to provide equal educational opportunities for all students.

How would you increase enrollment and test scores? Enrollment can and will only be increased based upon parental satisfaction with a safe school environment with programs to engage and provide positive learning results. Develop programs for those students who are not meeting standards. We need to model school districts who have been successful in increasing test scores. Parents need to be involved in their student’s success. Studies show that parental involvement has a direct result in student achievement. We need to provide all parents with the tools needed to participate with their student for increased achievement

What experience can you bring to the table? I bring 24 years of experience as a school board trustee, assistant professor at Sonoma State University, 40 years of Management experience in Finance, IT and Human Relations. A commitment to lifelong learning.

What important qualities do you think a trustee should have? A trustee should have the following qualities, independent, honesty, transparent, support equal educational opportunities for all students. Critical thinker and to put students first.

In regards to special education and school safety in the district is there anything you would want to change? Special Education needs to be supported to match the requirements needed. Forcing all Special Education students into one model doesn’t work. Individual needs have to be addressed and provided in order for positive educational results.

Why should people vote for you? I’m dedicated and committed to equal educational opportunities for all students. I’m your students’ advocate for their educational success.

The Community Voice Questions: Joe Cimino

What is your campaign platform? A major component of my platform is inclusion. I want all of the students to be included and not left or felt left behind. I feel that a complete program for students with special needs is needed. We also need to have a curriculum for the students who are in accelerated classes and part of that curriculum is training the teachers on how to effectively teach the material. Another part is the inclusion of all teachers and staff. I want any person who works for the district to not just be able to voice their opinions and concerns without having to worry about repercussions, but to encourage all dialogue. Lastly, I want to include the whole community. A school is where the next generation will spend the most of their time and we need everyone’s input to have the most successful future.

How would you increase enrollment and test scores? I think for test scores I think a standardized program that is the same from kindergarten to graduation is important. Where it’s from the same company and same series and there are no gaps or overlaps from elementary to middle school, and from middle school to high school. Then give the proper training so all of the teachers feel confident to teach the material. For enrollment, I think it’s the safety of the students and education programs that sell the school to parents. We need to come up with practical and attractive programs that will be desirable to all families living in and out of the district.

What experience can you bring to the table? I was appointed to my local unions Executive Board (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 551) for a few years then was appointed to the Apprenticeship Board. I have been on the Apprenticeship Board for a few years. I attended training on how a board works and certain rules and laws on how money is to be spent. We updated our employee handbook and did a complete overhaul of our apprenticeship mission statement and policies. We also hired a new training director which would be a process like hiring a superintendent. They both are in charge of the staff, teachers, and finances of the apprenticeship. For my day job I am an electrical General Foreman for a large project where my duties include the safety and training my crew, reviewing and adhering to a budget, creating and following multiple schedules, and interpreting a contract.

What important qualities do you think a trustee should have? Someone who will listen and always focus on the main goal; help students develop into well rounded people who can be successful and have a positive contribution to our community. A board member has to have integrity and be able to work and listen to all types of people, from all backgrounds. They should be well rounded individuals that make rational decisions. Lastly, I think they should be personable and able to work well with others.

In regards to special education and school safety in the district is there anything you would want to change? I am not an expert in special education, I just know it was heart breaking listening to parents who have to struggle to get the assistance they need for their child. I want a more proactive approach to special education. A program where the parents aren’t having to find the answers and don’t feel abandoned by the district. I think this is possible by reaching out to other districts and local programs. As for school safety I think it starts with proper training for all teachers and staff; a policy that is standard throughout the district. After that, give the teachers and staff the confidence that the district will have their back. I know that anyone working for the school district wants what’s best for the students and their choices will reflect that. I also want to see more crossing guards. A parent shouldn’t have to worry about their student getting to school safely.

Why should people vote for you? I am pretty straight forward. I love my children and want the best for every student and every decision I make will reflect that. I believe the more that we put in to our children the better our community will be; in ways it’s the biggest investment we will ever make. I understand they will be the future leaders, voters, and contributing members to our society. I’m more about programs than new state of the art buildings. To me a roof is a roof, but what can we put in their hands and in their minds. I want teachers and staff to have all the training they need to be and feel successful. I also will have a fresh perspective and will always work with all board members.

The Community Voice Questions: Chrissa Gillies

What is your campaign platform? We must focus on inclusive education for all students. We need to create a shared vision for academic achievement by establishing a rigorous culture of learning, in order to create an expectation of high academic standards for all students. This must be done through transparency and collaborating with all stakeholders, students, parents, educators and community leaders.

How would you increase enrollment and test scores? We need to bring back students that have left the district by offering more choices in programs, preventing bullying and harassment and giving teachers the training they need to implement restorative justice. We need the teachers’ voices in what curriculum is working. We need to stop changing it every 2-3 years and we must have curriculum consistency in grades K-12. Teacher development is crucial.

What experience can you bring to the table? I have been in the financial industry for over 35 years. I have experience in HR, contracts, negotiations, financials and budgets. My kids all graduated from Rancho and I have grand children enrolled here now.

What important qualities do you think a trustee should have? Being truthful with the community is key. Transparency and listening to the community is critical. Board sub- committees need to include stakeholders and not just a few people.

In regards to special education and school safety in the district is there anything you would want to change? We need to restore Special Ed, which has been decimated. Parents have pulled their students out because they are getting no support. Parents should not have to file grievances with government agencies to get the education their kids are entitled to under the law. This is an abuse of power and a waste of scarce financial resources. We need to involve the community in safety plans. If you ask most citizens, they do not know what the plan is for 5,800 students. This is dangerous in the event of an emergency.

Why should people vote for you? As a school board member, my goal will be what is in the best interests of our students’ education. I will focus on policies and planning that guide our students’ college and/or career readiness. I will work to help craft policies that create an inclusive, welcoming and safe environment for all students in the district. I will be a tireless advocate for our teachers. Transparency and accountability are hallmarks of a working school board.