CARLSBAD — Four Carlsbad Unified School District board of trustees candidates addressed budget cuts and means to improve open communication at a recent candidate forum moderated by the League of Women Voters on Oct. 14.
Poinsettia Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Association hosted the forum that was attended by about 30 residents. Candidates responded to a number of audience-submitted questions that touched on issues currently facing Carlsbad’s school district.
Candidates Ann Tanner, a clinical program manager; small business owner Veronica Williams; sales executive Ray Pearson; and incumbent Lisa Rodman are vying for three open seats on this November’s ballot.
“I believe that now, more than ever, that Carlsbad schools can and will provide the highest quality for my kids and all the kids in our community,” Williams said. “We need to aim higher and strive for more.”
Budget cuts were the main topic of conversation at the forum, from how to work with limited funds to creative solutions that would generate more money for Carlsbad’s schools.
“This is the biggest challenge we have,” Tanner said. She noted that budget spending is personnel-driven and needs to be reassessed in the coming months. “We have to live within our means and make sure that every single penny will be spent carefully.”
Williams suggested a re-evaluation of how funds are spent to reduce costs in areas that would not directly affect students, teachers or the classroom. “We need to make sure there is zero waste at the district level,” she said.
Pearson hopes to maximize relationships with
the Carlsbad Educational Foundation and local businesses to generate outside funds for schools. If the school board needs to make budget cuts, “I want to make sure they are cuts that we can all agree upon,” he said.
Incumbent Rodman advocated that money should be spent on “children, children and more children.” She would consider instituting a year-round school program if studies proved it would increase achievement amongst the student body.
The candidates also unanimously supported establishing open communication channels between parents, teachers and students in Carlsbad’s schools. They agreed that improved communication would not only improve student performance, but also combat bullying, which has been a big issue as of late.
“We need to begin the whole process of kids understanding their differences and appreciating them for what they are,” Pearson said. “That lesson needs to start not in high school, but in kindergarten.”
The top three candidates in November’s election will serve a four-year term on the five-person board. They will oversee issues facing Carlsbad’s 15 schools and 11,000 students.
Current board president Mark Tanner and member Nicole Pappas have chosen not to campaign for their seats in the coming election.
To learn more about the Carlsbad Unified School District board of trustees candidates, visit www.smartvoter.org, the League of Women Voters’ nonpartisan election guide.