The Coast News Group
Current board member Claudine Jones discusses issues the district faces at the forum held at Pacific Rim Elementary School. Photo by Ellen Wright

CUSD Board of Trustees candidates debate issues

CARLSBAD—The League of Women Voters hosted a forum for the Carlsbad Unified School District Board of Trustees candidates Oct. 2. Six candidates are vying to fill three four-year terms, and two candidates are vying for a two-year term.

The candidates answered questions from the audience of about 80, including the move to Common Core Standards, class sizes and the budget.

About 70 people attended the forum Thursday night.

Almost all of the candidates agreed that the school district’s reserve fund shouldn’t be restricted to the state mandated 3 percent.

Kathy Rallings, teacher consultant, said a 5 to 6 percent reserve is appropriate and she believes there should be a cap on the amount the district can set aside because tax payer’s dollars should be used in the classroom.

The only candidate running for the two-year term that attended the forum, Jenae Torgersen, library technician, agreed with Rallings that 3 percent was not enough and the district should consider at least a 5 to 6 percent reserve.

Gil Soto, realtor, disagreed about having a cap on reserves because he saw a teacher of the year get handed a pink slip due to budget cuts.

Claudine Jones, who is currently serving as the board’s clerk, said a larger reserve than the state mandate is prudent.

“A 3 percent reserve represents about a week of payroll,” said Jones.

Board Vice President Veronica Williams also agreed that 3 percent is not enough.

Sage Naumann, a web-developer, said there is no perfect state reserve and that the district should “plan for what is projected.”

Maria Rosino-Maracco, a local business owner, said that the state mandate may be OK for the district but there are bigger problems in California and she would need to speak with experts to find out the best amount of reserves to be set aside.

The candidates also discussed the move to Common Core State Standards, which were adopted by California in August 2010.

Most of the candidates agreed that the Common Core curriculum is helpful because it teaches students to be critical thinkers and prepares them for college.

Torgersen has a problem with the math in Common Core because she worries that children who have “math brains” may feel inadequate when forced to write about math if they struggle with writing.

Naumann disagreed with the move to Common Core because he doesn’t believe the federal government should get involved with local schools and he doesn’t believe the Common Core testing is good for children.

“It’s making kids sick. It’s driving them insane, because third graders can’t be put in front of a computer for six hours to take a test,” Naumann said.

The other candidate looking to serve a two-year term, Businessman Ray Pearson, was unable to attend the forum because of a pre-planned trip. He cited his involvement in the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation, Rotary Club of Carlsbad, North Coastal Prevention Coalition and City of Carlsbad Senior Commission as his qualifications.

Every candidate supported smaller class sizes.

Rallings said the district should be taking a more aggressive approach towards minimizing class sizes.

Naumann and Torgersen agreed that the district’s mission statement is great but it’s difficult to actually fulfill it and results are more important than words.

The elections for school board take place Nov. 4.


Mary Millet October 9, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Regarding the comment about a fine teacher being laid off, it’s important to realize that the school budget is divided into categories, and much of the reserve isn’t eligible for employee salaries, anyway. It is not a given conclusion that layoffs would have been different with more reserves. The money is given to the schools by the state to use for education, and too often more reserves don’t mean better education.

Bob October 9, 2014 at 9:42 am

I attended this forum ( thank you League of Women Voters and Carlsbad PTA ) . Kathy Rallings differentiated herself with her considerable depth of knowledge about school finance . Rallings will be a welcome addition to our school board !

Carlsbad parent October 7, 2014 at 4:30 pm

You don’t have to agree with common core because it’s not a choice. The state decides it all. It is clear that a certain candidate is not interested in teacher support, which is by far the most important group of people that influence a child’s education. There is an excellent candidate who stands out and actually seemed knowledgeable about current topics with specific details (Rallings).

Zack Brown October 7, 2014 at 6:52 pm

The fact is that Sage Naumann (who you don’t care to name, much less identify yourself) does support teachers. He supports their freedom to develop a curriculum based on their student’s specific educational needs, and not the one-size-fits-all learning requirements of federal bureaucrats. Sage supports a teacher’s right to teach, and a parent’s right to make educational decisions on behalf of their child. This sets him apart from other candidates who would rather hand over instruction to one fo the elast respected lawmaking bodies in history.

Zack Brown October 7, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Typo: *one of the *least

Sam Ward October 9, 2014 at 9:19 pm

Sage Naumann spends a lot of time touting his endorsements from out of town politicians – does anyone know why Carl DeMaio is no longer endorsing his campaign?

Kelly Schafer October 10, 2014 at 6:53 am

So what if Carl DeMaio dropped the endorsement. People drop endorsements of candidates — this is not the first time that’s happened to a candidate. Doesn’t even register on my radar. If Sage had no endorsements, it wouldn’t matter to me. I know who he is. I know he is a great candidate with energy, passion, and a plan for his term on the school board. He actually has a mission statement that makes sense. He is knowledgeable on the issues in a way that I haven’t seen in the other candidates.

As for the “Carlsbad parent” who says Common Core is not a choice…you need to get educated on this. I think it is pretty sad when someone just lays down like that. Parents have a choice to opt their children out of all state and district standardized tests and surveys. They have a choice to work with the teachers on better solutions for their children. They have a choice to band together and fight Common Core. Just so you know, there are many, many teachers who don’t like Common Core, but they fear for their jobs and don’t speak out. It is up to the parents to fix this thing. I think you’d be surprised to find how many teachers do support Sage. Ask Sage — he knows about Common Core like no other candidate. I am more concerned about candidates who are supported by teachers’ unions…who really do not necessarily act in the best interests of teachers. Follow the money.

Sam Ward October 10, 2014 at 10:27 am

Kelly – Does Sage share your belief that common core is Bill Gates’ plot to turn school kids into socialists?

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