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Election 2022: School board races
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Election 2022: School Board Races

REGION — The Coast News previews each of the school board races across North County San Diego.

Over the past two months, The Coast News sent electronic questionnaires in four batches to North County candidates at different levels of government, including federal, state, municipal/county and school boards.

As a local newspaper, The Coast News wanted to share this information before mail-in ballots are received so voters can decide for themselves who is best suited to represent their interests in public office based on the candidates’ own words.

The candidates’ responses can be found by scrolling past the race previews. 

San Dieguito Union High 

Eight candidates are battling it out for three open seats on the San Dieguito Union High School District Board of Trustees, with Republican- and Democrat-endorsed candidates frontrunners in each race.

The new trustee area map guiding this election was adopted by the San Diego County Office of Education after taking over the process from the school district. Area 3 covering Cardiff and Solana Beach now extends down into Del Mar, previously part of Area 4, and yields the area of Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club to Area 4 and the region north of Del Dio Road to Area 2.

Candidates for Area 1 covering Encinitas Ranch and Leucadia are former Encinitas Union School District trustee and Democrat Rimga Viskanta and David Carattini, a district parent backed by the Republican party. They are vying for the seat currently held by board president Maureen “Mo” Muir, who dropped out of the race in August.

Fighting for the Area 3 seat, left vacant after trustee Melisse Mossy’s resignation in April, are Democrat-endorsed Jane Lea Smith, Republican-endorsed Sheila King and Daniel Hale.

The race for Area 5 includes Democrat-endorsed incumbent Julie Bronstein and district parents Phan Anderson, endorsed by the Republican party, and Georgia Ringler.

Mossy’s resignation earlier this year has left the previously conservative-leaning, five-person board with just four members, often resulting in a deadlock when voting on district matters. Victories for Viskanta, Bronstein and Smith could mean flipping the board to a Democratic majority, while losses could mean returning to a conservative majority.

Bronstein has received the most contributions of any candidate with a total of $16,134. The San Dieguito Teachers Association has contributed just over $2,000 each toward Viskanta, Smith and Bronstein for campaign mailers.

Carlsbad Unified

For the Carlsbad Unified school board, Area 1 features Sharon McKeeman, founder of Let Them Breathe, against Michelle Ward, a principal in Poway and the wife of Sam Ward. In Area 4, Jennifer Fornal faces Gretchen Vurbeff and in Area 5, incumbent Kathy Rallings is being challenged by Scott Davison.

Del Mar Union 

Voters living within the boundaries of the Del Mar Union School District will get to choose from eight candidates running for three open positions on the district board of trustees next month.

Up for election are the seats of trustees Scott Wooden and Doug Rafner, both of whom have been on the board since 2010, and Kathryn Fitzpatrick, who was elected to her first term in 2018. All three are seeking re-election.

The five challengers in the school board race include retired teachers Cinda Peck and William “Bill” Porter, and district parents Danielle Roybal, Maniza Sheikhani and Esther Rubio-Sheffrey. If voters favor newer candidates, the board could be shaken up by new faces focused on representing parents next year.

All trustees are elected in an at-large capacity, rather than by trustee area, to four-year terms.

The district’s election comes on the heels of a contentious year, where community members turned out in droves at board meetings to express concerns about lack of support for staff, alleged illegal practices when it comes to special education, and legal spending in the district, which exceeded $1 million between April 2021 and 2022.

The Del Mar Teacher’s PAC has reported contributions of $1,199 each to Peck, Porter and Fitzpatrick.

Encinitas Union

In the Encinitas Union School District, residents may vote for three of the following board member prospects: Emily Andrade, Thomas Angel, Andre Johnson, Raquel Pfeifer, Justin Ried and Marla Stitch.

The two incumbents are Stitch and Andrade and Pfeifer. Pfeifer was appointed fill the remainder of Gregg Sonken’s term (ending in 2022) following his death in July.

Pfeifer is a parent of two children in the school district, Ried works in technology marketing and Angel is a retired physicist — the latter have yet to file candidate statements.

Angel and Ried have not filed candidate statements.

Solana Beach 

Three of the five seats on the Solana Beach School District’s board of trustees are up for grabs this November for the district’s first-ever trustee area election.

The Solana Beach School District transitioned from an at-large election process to a trustee area model in 2019, dividing the district into five areas where voters in each area could elect their own representative. District leaders slightly adjusted their map earlier this year to account for slight population changes in accordance with the 2020 U.S. Census.

Seats up for election this year include Area 1 covering Solana Beach west of Interstate 5, Area 3 covering the San Dieguito Valley and running northeast up to Fairbanks Ranch, and Area 4 representing Pacific Highlands Ranch.

Incumbent Debra Schade is seeking the Area 1 seat along with challenger and former professional baseball player Aubrey Huff. Incumbent Vicki King is running unopposed for the Area 3 seat, and candidates for Area 4 include incumbent Gaylin Allbaugh and engineering program manager Chuck Ringer.

A committee called Friends of Debra Schade for Solana Beach School Board 2022 has reported raising $4,700 in campaign funding for Schade. Ringer reported a $4,000 donation that he contributed to his own campaign. No other candidates have reported campaign contributions.

Oceanside Unified

Three seats are up for election on the Oceanside Unified School District board.

The school board will for sure see a new face representing Trustee Area No. 1 as current Trustee Eric Joyce isn’t running for re-election, opting instead to run for City Council’s District 1 seat instead. That leaves Allyson Mineau, director of the Parent Association of Oceanside, running against Nancy Licona, a school counselor backed by the Oceanside Teachers Association.

Board President Stacy Begin is running for re-election unopposed in Trustee Area No. 3, meanwhile Board Vice President Raquel Alvarez is running for re-election against Tigran Ghukasyan for Trustee Area No. 4.

Vista Unified 

In the Vista Union School District, residents may vote for one of the following board member in two of the five district areas. See the district website for map boundaries.

In the race for the open seat for  Area 2 is business owner and Vista parent Rena Marrocco, incumbent Trustee Debbie Mortion and educator Carla Rivera-Cruz.

In Area 3, incumbent Trustee Martha Alvarado will face Jen Telles, a parent and business owner.

Escondido Union High 

Three trustee seats are up for election this year.

Bob Weller is running against Mickey E. Jackson for Trustee Area No. 1. Bill Durney, who currently represents Trustee Area No. 2, is running unopposed.

In Trustee Area No. 5, incumbent trustee Jon Petersen is challenged by Kathryn McCarthy.

Escondido Union

Like the high school district, the board representing elementary and middle schools of Escondido have three trustee seats up for election this year.

Incumbent candidate Joan Gardner, who represents Trustee Area No. 2, is running against Elizabeth Shulok.

Trustee Area No. 4 incumbent and current Board President Georgine Tomasi will face former school board member Zesty Harper, while incumbent Frank Huston is running unopposed in Area No. 5.

Palomar College (San Marcos)

San Marcos voters living within the Palomar Community College District will also elect candidates to fill three open seats on the college’s governing board.

The race for the Area 1 seat will not include incumbent Mark Evilsizer, who has served on the board for 20 years. Instead, Miramar College professor Judy Patacsil faces off against Frank Xu, cofounder of San Diego Asian Americans for Equality and president of Californians for Equal Rights.

Xu’s work with CFER as well as Californians for Equal Rights has focused on fighting critical race theory as well as diversity, equity and inclusion practices statewide, and his campaign for Palomar College has focused on overturning these policies at the college. The Palomar Faculty Association has invested $58,000 in Patacsil’s campaign.

The Area 4 race includes incumbent Kartik Raju, who was appointed to the board in 2021, running against small business owner Michelle Rains.

Area 5 incumbent Norma Miyamoto, who served 21 years in various positions at the college before being elected to the board in 2018, is running for re-election against Jacqueline Kaiser, an insurance agent and elected member of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group since 2020.

The Palomar Faculty Association also put $32,000 each toward Miyamoto’s and Raju’s campaigns.

San Marcos Unified

Two seats are up for election on the five-person San Marcos Unified School District board of trustees, with one incumbent and three challengers throwing their hats in the ring.

November will mark the second by-trustee area election in the district, with residents in trustee areas C and E able to elect their first-ever area representatives. Trustees for areas A, B and D were elected in 2018.

Vying for the Area C seat representing Palomar College are district parent Stephanie Carroll and school counselor Andres Ramos Martin. Current Area C trustee Sydney Kerr is not running for re-election, meaning the board will have at least one new face next year.

Area E incumbent trustee Stacy Carlson, who has served on the board since 2014, is seeking re-election to a third term against mental health professional Sharyl Cavellier.

San Marcos Unified’s most recent redistricting process earlier this year made minor changes to previous trustee area lines, slightly expanding Area A in the southwest corner of the district and Area D in the district’s southeast corner.

San Marcos Teachers for Quality Education PAC have contributed $2,057.82 on campaign materials supporting Carlson and the same amount supporting Martin.

Candidates questionnaire

The information contained below is directly from 36 candidates running for school board seats. These are their responses, in their own words, to questions facing the district and voters.  

San Dieguito Union High

Rimga Viskanta, Area 1

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am running to restore civility and decorum to our School Board while maintaining our excellent standard of education, uniting us for what matters most: the students. I previously served on the Encinitas School Board, am a longtime school volunteer, parent of recent SDUHSD graduates, and have a master’s in Public Administration from USC.

How can voters best reach you?

www.voteforviskanta.com; [email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Strongly agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Projections show enrollment in our District will hold steady at 12,560 students for the next three budget cycles through June 2025. Declining enrollment in CA is attributed to a decline in the State’s overall population due to factors outside school district control. Locally, property sales indicate that the District is a desirable place to live.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

To optimize a district’s financial position, it is critical to follow best financial practices. Budget workshops outside regular meetings can allow for robust discussions and public input about deferred maintenance or financial options to fund new facilities like District pools. Federal grants could finance projects such as electric school buses.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

I disagree with the decision on 2/17/22 to approve a redistricting map that was gerrymandered to such an extent that instead of adjusting boundaries minimally to account for the latest population figures, the map completely redrew voting boundaries and renumbered sub-districts. Voters should select their elected officials, not the other way around.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Inclusion and support of ALL students is paramount to mental health. Students should be protected from harmful acts of bullying–physical, verbal, or online. Board decisions on mental health should be made in collaboration with school site professionals. I will foster a culture of transparency, inclusion, and kindness in our schools and boardroom.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Discipline and school climate are not unimportant.  However, discipline is best managed at the school site level through even application of District policies.  Some of our current Board members dampen school climate through unwarranted criticism of teachers and administrators.  When our professional staff feels valued, school climate can improve.

David Carattini, Area 1

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am a nonpartisan candidate. I am running for the San Dieguito Union High School board to bring unity and cohesiveness for the purpose of enhancing the educational experience for our students, educators, and families. Special interests will not influence me. I look forward to exceeding your expectations and earning your trust.

How can voters best reach you?

https://www.daveforsduhsd.com/

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

We must enhance the educational experience. When it’s enjoyable, everyone will want to be part of it. We must listen to all and create an atmosphere free from any sort of harassment and discrimination. We must be more accepting of differences and encourage diversity and inclusion. Our communication from top to bottom needs to be excellent.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

The budget that was prepared by a forensic accountant will be reviewed in it’s entirety. Once this is completed and includes the recent changes to benefits, it should be available for the board and public to view. We need to look for the low hanging fruit. We will also find ethical ways to generate alternative income.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

I don’t think it would be fair for me to criticize past decisions without having all the facts for why those decisions were made.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

I propose to improve communication top to bottom. The solutions to these priorities will be positively impacted by the minds of the many and not just the few. The positive way to impact a challenge is to not shy away from it, but to deal with it head on. The board can only be an extension of what is best for the people in our community.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

I feel that more discipline causes people to withdraw. If people buy off on taking responsibility for their actions and take more pride in where they work and go to school, there will be less discipline needed. We need to build trust. This will improve the overall climate.

Jane Lea Smith, Area 3

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I’m running because I believe all students should have the opportunity to realize their full potential. As a former special education teacher and parent of a 2022 CCA graduate, I understand that students’ needs are diverse. I am an experienced non-profit board member who will bring good governance and a well-rounded perspective to the position.

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]; www.Smith4SanDieguito.com

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

The first step is to identify through objective, data-driven measures, the reasons for the decline. Then, through collaboration between district leadership, site administrators, faculty, and families, we can design and implement appropriate targeted responses. These may include program expansion or restructuring, community-building initiatives or additional support services.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

We must prioritize expenditures that directly affect student safety and the quality of our educational programs. I will put a stop to out of control legal fees and expenses by governing with integrity.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

The most important responsibility of school board trustees is to hire and hold accountable the district superintendent. Instead of rushing the hiring process in the fall of 2021, our board should have taken the time to conduct a rigorous, transparent, nationwide search for an outstanding superintendent with proven public education experience.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

I understand that our students’ needs are diverse and complex. We must commit to educating the whole person, focusing on early intervention and ensuring that students have access to social-emotional and academic guidance resources. To support our marginalized populations, I will prioritize diversity training for all members of our community.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Reducing class size is a good long-term goal, but our first step is to regain financial stability. Once we have adequate reserves without deficit spending, we can revisit the value of smaller class sizes and the significant investment required to reduce numbers to a level that will impact students.

Sheila King, Area 3

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I’m a mom of three and wife to a Navy Veteran, a 22 year resident of Encinitas. My oldest son graduated from LCC and two remain in the district. I’m a business owner and advocate for children and veterans. I’m running to be an independent voice for students, parents and taxpayers. We need a balanced board, one that includes independent trustees.

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

The data from the superintendent states that the decrease across the district over the past year is less than 1%. While this number doesn’t seem alarming, a possible solution would be to identify the reasons why students and parents are choosing one school over another within the district. A survey at the end of middle school should provide insight into areas of improvement. 

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat agree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

The top priority is to eliminate deficit spending. We should look at cost sharing resources within the district and need to have a financial plan that aligns with our strategic plan. We should continuously be exploring opportunities for grant funding and community partnerships for supplemental sources of revenue. 

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

The redistricting process was not well executed and resulted in an unnecessary lawsuit. The County Board of Education crafted an equally unfair map. The superintendent should have recommended formation of an independent redistricting committee. The Board could not agree on the revised map and it was not approved, but was implemented.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

The mental health “social-emotional” resources for students should be the highest priority during a national mental health crisis. The district needs the necessary resources and safeguards in place for every student who may need support. We need to take an in depth look at the number of mental health counselors available to students on campus. 

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Since every issue cannot be listed as a high priority, it does not mean that they do not have merit. I chose Job / Personal Finance / Other “Life Skills” because although this is an important skill for all students to have, it is one that doesn’t take precedent over district finances and emotional well-being of students.

Phan Anderson, Area 5

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am an SDUHSD parent, immigrant from Vietnam, software engineer and resident of Carmel Valley who is in favor of high educational standards. I believe board trustees should be independent voices for students/families/voters. It’s time to move away from controversy and focus on providing the best possible educational experience for our children.

How can voters best reach you?

www.phananderson.com

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Because the upcoming student cohort is shrinking nationally, declining enrollment is somewhat beyond our control. But some families seek alternatives because they see their children struggling academically after the pandemic, and they have concerns about school safety.  We should be able to address both of these issues with existing resources.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

SDUHSD is one of the wealthiest school districts in the nation – revenues are not our problem.  Our attention should instead be focused on our spending. Given the newly agreed labor contract, getting spending under control anytime soon will be difficult. Our board will be confronted with some tough decisions in the days ahead.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

In December 2020, after difficult negotiations to settle a lawsuit, the District agreed to further postpone the school reopenings. Had I been on the board at the time I would have taken a firmer position, in favor of getting our kids back into their classrooms.  A partial reopening then would have accelerated the return to full time classes.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Our students have a range of abilities, talents, and backgrounds.  For less gifted or disadvantaged students, we must have resources in place to support them so they are able to maximize their potential.  Regarding financial management, the district has been on probation for several years. In order to avoid a crisis, we must solve this problem.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Enrollment is declining, so we don’t need to hire more teachers until the trend reverses.  Coming back from the pandemic, we should be using resources already in place to help our students regain lost ground.  My goal is to deliver them an opportunity for an excellent education, and we already have the resources in place to get that job done.

Georgia Ringler, Area 5

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am running for the governing board of the San Dieguito Union High School District because of my concern about the lack of unity and transparency within the District, and because I want to ensure the Board of Trustees puts the focus back on our children and makes decisions that are in the best interests of every student in the district. 

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

*Understand root causes and address parent concerns * Create committees comprised of parents: parents taking back the wheel of how our children   are being educated Provide a safe place for all stake holders: teachers, students and parents Build a community based on mutual respect, accepting responsibility where all are held accountable for their behaviors towards each other Implement the right systems in place so that all thrive: accountability to follow P&P/applicable laws  Put the focus back on excellence in education for all students, without agendas.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat agree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

The first thing that needs to happen is an outside audit of the last four years of this District’s spending. Transparency needs to be the priority. We need facts and a clear understanding of spending history and available funds. There should be no confusion as to where tax payer dollars are going.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

Pandemic School Reopening: Proponent of opening up the schools during pandemic for in-school learning, on-line learning or hybrid. Give the choice to each family who pays the tax dollars. There could have been better ways to close the gaps with all the funding provided.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Fiscal: Implement systems to increase transparency and accountability, and engage community members to help with efforts to follow-through. Committees from all stakeholders should be engaged on the District level. I have been hearing we are in the red. Without funds, we cannot operate the schools.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Athletics & Extracurricular:  To my knowledge, these areas are already excellent and thrive. I believe they are important, but at the moment, I do not believe they are the highest priority.

Del Mar Union

Scott Wooden, At-large

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I will maintain fiscal responsibility with budgetary decisions following clearly established goals & objectives; Proper governance and decision-making through effective relationships between board, superintendent, and staff; Student safety as a priority; parental involvement with mutual respect and trust that put children first every time.

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Declining enrollment is a consequence of the declining birth rates. As we are a locally funded (or basic aid) district, our funding is not primarily based on ADA. Therefore, the declining enrollment actually helps our financials. 

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

Our budget is solvent and balanced with healthy reserves. We use one-time money for one time expenses and do not overextend our budgetary commitments.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

None

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

We have already committed resources to maintain low class sizes. our budget is balanced and our reserve is healthy. As such we can expend resources for mental health and ensuring every student has an equal opportunity to succeed.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Student enrollment is not a focus in a community funded district.

Doug Rafner, At-large

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I’m an attorney and mediator on the Superior Court’s panel. I have been on the DMUSD board since 2010 and have worked hard for students, families and teachers. We are in the midst of a number of projects and are currently reforming our strategic plan. I know I can continue to help DMUSD remain a premiere district in the state.   

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Provide the best educational opportunities for students

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

For the 12 years I have been on the board, DMUSD has consistently had a balanced budget.   The board has always kept an eye on the newest concepts in education, but have also streamlined the district’s spending,  while also encouraging and seeking out public/private partnership opportunities.   

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

In moving forward with Proposition MM, there was much discussion regarding whether there would be two schools west of the freeway. I was the lone dissenter hoping to retain two schools west of the freeway. This concept ultimately prevailed and the Board determined the need for 9 schools rather than 8.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Of the above, the single issue that has consistently remained a priority is class size.  The district has faced various budget challenges and class size has and will continue to remain a priority.  Studies show how important it is, and I will continue to fight to keep classes small.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

DMUSD being an elementary school district should have some exposure to executive functions, job/life skill, however, middle and high school should provide greater emphasis.

Danielle Roybal, At-large

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

DMUSD is currently under investigation (the media has written about it). While speaking with parents and teachers within the community, there is a fear of retaliation. Lawyers suing parents, poor teacher morale, some children not receiving the proper support and teacher’s fear retaliation for advocating for them. Lack of transparency, accountability.

How can voters best reach you?

vote4roybal.org

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Strongly agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Find out why it’s occurring. In DMUSD, I know why. It’s not placing students at the center of decision-making processes. We have to make school fun not just for students but also teachers. Right now DMUSD is suffering from low teacher morale and turnover. Treat your employees well, they will then stay and that effect trickles down to the children.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat agree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

Request an FCMAT budgetary review. In reviewing the budget, there are plenty of funds. The problem lies in the school board failing to prioritize. DMUSD started the year $17M in the general fund. We currently have a 23.8% reserve. Per the California Department of Education (CDE) school districts should not go over 10% in reserves (new guidance).

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

The board is not holding accountable those responsible for harming our children. Via a public records’ request, I have all the internal documents showing the unethical activity going on in DMUSD. Including the letter written by the Teacher’s Union asking for an investigation in March of 2022. I would hold those accountable for these acts.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Fiscal management (with a focus on placing the children at the center of it) should be our top priority in any school district. All issues in school boards can be traced back to the budget. If we fix this, we can then allocate funds to alleviate all areas of concern. For example, DMUSD currently has $17M in the general fund- plenty of money.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Athletics/Extracurriculars – although this is important, if you look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualization is towards the top. Of the above concerns, this priority is the added icing to the cake. It’s not to say it’s not important, it is. However, safety, security, fiscal management, transparency & accountability are all paramount

Maniza Sheikhani, At-large

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

Parents need more representation, transparency, accountability, collaboration and someone who will advocate for their children. As a mother of two children (one in the special needs program) I am committed to serving the community with our diverse set of needs.  Our district needs a bridge between families and district administration.

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

There are multitude of reasons that may lead to declining school enrollment. These may student/parent related, or may be secondary to school related issues. Our unique geographic location may also contribute to this situation. Independent consultants may brought in to figure out the root causes to help improve enrollment.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat agree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

A third party audit should be conducted to see where finances are being spent. Transparency needs to be a priority. How can we improve if we aren’t sure what the problems are.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

There have been many issues that have polarized the community. At the forefront, special education has consistently been underfunded. There needs to be more analysis and transparency as to why they are chronically underfunded.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Balancing the needs of the community is one of my highest priorities. To do so, having a healthy financial budget which entails fiscal management and discipline, are important factors in ensuring the needs of all students are met. This also includes ensuring transparency about where money is spent, and community involvement in decision making.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

All issues have incredible importance within the school system. We currently have robust athletics and extracurricular activities available at the district schools. Parents can choose to supplement our already fine curriculum with outside activities.

Carlsbad Unified

Michele Tsutagawa Ward, Area 1

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am a long time educator, school principal, and parent.I want to continue the innovative work that CUSD is doing and continue to support unique pathways for our students. I also want to support an inclusive learning environment, maintain the safety of our schools, and provide social emotional learning to support the mental health of our students.

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

The best way to support declining student enrollment is to work with school districts and stakeholders to ensure that public school programs receive adequate financial support, work with families and provide them the resources they need, and real world opportunities for students. My priorities in improving district finances include auditing programs in use to ensure that their benefit exceeds their cost to the district,  focusing on effective professional development, and working with industry leaders to bridge education to real world experiences and developing effective programs and partnerships with those industries.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

My priorities in improving district finances include auditing programs in use to ensure that their benefit exceeds their cost to the district,  focusing on effective professional development, and working with industry leaders to bridge education to real world experiences and developing effective programs and partnerships with those industries.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

My work as a new school board member will be to work to support our students moving forward. It is always important to reevaluate programs, create an environment that focuses on improvement, and learn from our past. To point out past board decisions that I disagree with doesn’t seem to be an effective way to move forward. 

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

We need to work with school staff and parents to better understand the growing mental health needs of our students and to provide more professional support, like school counselors, to support students and families. I believe addressing the mental and social emotional needs of our students requires promoting an equitable learning environment.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Improved / Expanded Facilities & Classroom Equipment is my lowest priority at this moment in time because in 2016, voters approved a bond, the proceeds from which have provided for facilities improvements at school sites throughout the district. 

Sharon McKeeman, Area 1

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I’m running to ensure every student receives an excellent education in a caring environment. During the pandemic, I advocated for student rights. I will give parents a voice, and support teachers. I’m a mother of four and Executive Director/Educator for the non-profit I founded focused on ensuring students have access to quality education.

How can voters best reach you?

https://sharon4carlsbadschools.com & [email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

If schools provide an excellent education, they will retain students. Combatting declining student enrollment does not involve opposing school choice, but instead is reliant on meeting student needs. School choice improves education for all students by introducing healthy competition. School boards also need to be involved in sending resolutions to the state in response to bad policy so that students are not lost due to their families moving out of state because of California state government overreach.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly agree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

Keep funding focused on academics, arts, and athletics that prepare students for success. Fiscal responsibility keeps resources from being lost in bureaucracy. Public/private partnerships utilize the private sector to achieve greater efficiency. New revenue streams result from affiliate marketing, advertising, renting unused facilities out and more.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

The CUSD school board decided to keep schools closed at the beginning of the 20-21 school year even though the state deemed it was safe for schools to be in-person at that time. I would have voted to open schools to ensure the academic and social-emotional well-being of students and enable educators to be in the classroom with students.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

As a parent who puts students first, I’m running for office to achieve government accountability to the taxpayers who elect them. This is my highest priority because if it is achieved everything else important to the community will follow. If elected officials are serving their constituents well then student, parent, and educator needs will be met.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

I don’t think there can be any low priorities when it comes to the needs of an academic community. However I do not think we need to allocate funding directly to student retention. Instead we must focus time and resources on the programs that ensure academic engagement and student success and that will in itself ensure enrollment and retention.

Jennifer Fornal, Area 4

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

As a mom and education advocate, I’m proud to raise my children in Carlsbad. I’ve dedicated 15 years working with Carlsbad schools as President of PTO and as a board member of Carlsbad Educational Foundation to fund and develop safe and innovative learning opportunities. I have the experience needed to support student success in Carlsbad.

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected], www.fornal4cusd.com

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Carlsbad Unified enrollment is holding steady and is just shy of 2019 enrollment figures. Carlsbad Unified continues to attract families interested in a strong education for their children, exceeding state and county metrics with a graduation rate of 96% and 80% of graduates eligible for UC/CSU.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

I see great potential in CUSD’s public-private partnerships to leverage resources and create even more innovative educational and enrichment opportunities for students. I will prioritize deepening CUSD’s partnership with the Carlsbad Educational Foundation and local companies as an opportunity to bring additional resources to CUSD.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

My goal as a Board Member is to prioritize student achievement and maximize student opportunities. I am focused on working collaboratively and ensuring student and parent perspectives are heard. Identifying specific past decisions that I may not have agreed with does not feel like the best path forward.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Leverage CUSD’s partnerships to create innovative educational and enrichment opportunities for students to learn job and life skills. We can expand programs like Junior Achievement’s Finance Park, which teaches students personal finance and life and job skills and is already available for some Carlsbad high school students.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Carlsbad Unified enrollment is holding steady and is just shy of 2019 enrollment figures. Carlsbad Unified continues to attract families interested in a strong education for their children. Declining enrollment is not an area of concern at this time.

Scott Davison, Area 5

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am a parent of a student in CUSD and am running to bring an independent voice to the Board, devoid of special interest money and conflicts of interest. I will focus on helping students recover academically and emotionally from prolonged school closures, and restoring trust in public schools to bring back the hundreds of families who left CUSD.

How can voters best reach you?

www.scott4schools.com

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

We need to message normalcy, acknowledge the harm and mistakes of prolonged school closures, and publicize our efforts to help students recover, both academically and emotionally.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

The best option to increase revenue is to increase enrollment, but in the short term, we have and should spend as much of the pandemic relief money as possible to rapidly assess and remediate our students who all fell behind in some way – particularly the students in at-risk categories who fell much further behind as a result of school closures.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

The decision to indefinitely close middle and high schools on September 23, 2020 (and in many months thereafter) was a clear and widely-acknowledged mistake. I brought the lawsuit which successfully opened our schools and showed that not only was there was no scientific basis to close schools; the harm to kids far outweighed any perceived benefit.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

We need to commit to extra assessments of students for learning loss and social/emotional needs, and then further commit not just to additional counseling and tutoring, but also improved academic programs, like teaching the Science of Reading in K-3, to ensure that successful outcomes can be realized.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

We recently passed a bond measure (HH) and are in the middle of implementing massive improvements to our facilities and classrooms. We do need to responsibly manage the remaining funds, now that inflation will constrain the ability to complete all of these projects, but the largest and most critical ones have already been completed or initiated.

Kathy Rallings, Area 5

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I have proudly served the voters of Carlsbad Unified for the last eight years.  Over that time, we have improved student achievement, school safety, and transparency.  My hope is to continue the progress we have made through community partnerships, long term strategic planning, student career/college readiness, and responsible leadership.

How can voters best reach you?

https://re-electrallings.com, [email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Currently, Carlsbad Unified is an award winning highly desirable school district. Therefore, I believe we must continue highlighting our incredible programs like, “STEM Street on College Boulevard.”

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

California still ranks close to the bottom in per pupil spending for our schools. In my view, it is important to build partnerships with lawmakers to ensure they understand the underfunding of schools. We should also continue looking at one-time investments that turn into on going savings like our solar investment through Measure HH.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

I have disagreed with the board majority over the years about budget priorities.  I believe excess tax dollars belong in the classroom not squirreled away for a rainy day in the middle of a drought. During the LCAP study session on March 23, 2022, I wanted to prioritize healthy meals for students. The majority did not agree at that time. 

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Our school board has prioritized career pathways and Career Technical Education (CTE) to ensure Carlsbad students are prepared for the future.  We are in the beginning of a three-year strategic plan that I promoted to continue the progress we have made in this area. In addition, Financial Algebra will be offered to help with these life skills.    

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

When we lower class sizes, provide emotional support, and help prepare students for the future many discipline problems disappear. Additionally, school climate improves dramatically.  In my opinion, finite resources should be used to solve the root problem not to punish students into submission. 

Vista Unified

Rena Marrocco, Area 2

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

As a longtime Vista parent and homeowner, I have been disturbed by the division I have witnessed within the community between parents and teachers. Trustees need to come up with solutions that unify stakeholders instead of taking sides. I am running because my community needs me.

How can voters best reach you?

www.ReadyForRena.com

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

We need to fix our staffing issues in order to accommodate the needs of the families in our community. In addition, my marketing skills can help us better promote how outstanding our schools are.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

I favor programs that take advantage of grants to make our schools more sustainable while also helping to reduce costs. Reducing food waste, installing more solar panels, etc. would qualify us for these grants. These are programs that use one-time dollars for on-going savings that go back into our children’s classrooms.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

9/10/2020 Item 16E. VUSD mishandled the reopening of in-person learning at the schools. They lacked the funds to fully reopen the schools safely but offered that as an option anyway. Instead of trying to ease the ensuing tension between stakeholders by finding mitigating solutions, the board inflamed the situation by taking sides.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

The goal of schools should be helping our children to succeed in life . The district could promote a different “Life Hack” each week and provide resources to teachers, students, and parents to find free videos and tutorials online for everything from reconciling a bank account to making a bed. Encourage engagement with contests.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

While transparency is extremely important, VUSD already does an okay job of making all of its documents accessible to most people online. But any problems with this are easy fixes. For example, ensuring that all of the board documents are optimized for mobile devices is usually pretty easy and inexpensive. 

Debbie Morton, Area 2

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am a Vista Unified School District retired teacher of 24 years, parent, grandparent, and an advocate dedicated to making sure every student is placed in the forefront all educational  decisions.  I will strive to make partnerships not politics a priority. I am a voice for ALL students.

How can voters best reach you?

debbiemorton4students.com

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Strongly disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Excellent academics, safe facilities,

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

I understand financial solvency. I will continue to hold the district accountable for all monies. I will continue to keep budget cuts as far away from students as possible.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

I will continue to respect other trustees and stand behind the majority vote of the board, whether I agree or disagree.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

I support all efforts of the board to provide an environment that is emotionally and physically safe, has a rich curriculum, expand learning opportunities, while returning back to the basic.I believe adding trade professions, and college readiness as well as parents”  right to participate will improve students education.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Checks and balances are followed when there is taxpayer monies being used for public education.

Martha Alvarado, Area 3

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I’m a parent of a Vista Unified District graduate, a teacher, a Marine Corps veteran, a VUSD School Board Member and the 2021 San Diego County 1st Term School Board Member of the Year. I’m running for re-election because the academic success and mental health of students are paramount. I have the experience and acumen to improve student outcomes.

How can voters best reach you?

marthaalvarado.com, or email: [email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Unfortunately, school districts can not control the cost of housing in our region. In the absence of this ability,  schools should work diligently to provide dual enrollment programs at community colleges, as well as instruction that is personalized and innovative. Additionally, we should continue to expand programs that have high demand such as Dual Immersion Programs and Career Technical Education. Last, schools of choice with a unique specialty will also increase the demand for our schools.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

VUSD can continue to improve district finances by applying for federal, state and county grants.  Additionally attaining stakeholder consensus in the prioritization of district funds is a constructive way to improve the financial health of our budget. 

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

On 10/15/20, Item 17A, the Board had to decide on the manner to reopen our all of our schools for in-person learning on the same date.  I favored option 3 which would have had our schools start dates be phased in starting with elementary, then middle, and finally high schools to see the effects on students & staffing as a result of the pandemic.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Mental Health is a priority.  VUSD has added more counselors for our schools. With my leadership, VUSD opened 5 community schools with wrap-around services for students such as counseling and assistance from social workers.  I’d like to open up 3 more.  I’ll continue to request that VUSD hire more social workers to help our other schools as well.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

N/A – With regard to transitioning from a world wide pandemic to an endemic, every item on the aforementioned list is a priority.  One positive outcome of this pandemic is that school districts have received one time funds to try to meet the needs of our students’ academic , physical and mental states.

Jen Telles, Area 3

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am a parent of two kids in the district, so I have a vested interest to put students first. I also have a 17-year background in accounting. I will bring this skill set to the district to ensure our tax dollars are being used efficiently. I fully support our teachers in their efforts to help students receive the highest quality education possible.

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]  /  jenforschoolboard.com

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Strongly agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Student enrollment has been on the decline for several years and a recent third-party study, paid for by the district, shows the numbers will continue to decline through 2028. I propose we use this information to survey those who have left VUSD to gather more data on reasons for exit because enrollment is tied directly to district funding.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat agree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

Every organization can improve their finances and a school district is no exception. My strong financial background will allow me to assess areas of concern that might affect our students and teachers and provide input from an outside perspective. We must do what is best for students while being transparent and accountable to parents and taxpayers.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

The decision in November of 2019 to cut School Resource Officers was a mistake. Safety is and always should be a top priority. Students cannot learn when they do not feel safe. School Resource Officers are the first step to ensuring safety on our campuses. I also disagreed with replacing traditional grades with the pass/fail grading system in 2020.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

I support additional Career and Technical Education opportunities. CTE provides students with training for occupational/technical skills and a pathway to succeed beyond secondary education. Discipline policies should also be reviewed to protect students from acts of misconduct and violence. A negative school climate directly affects campus safety.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

My top priorities are academic excellence, campus safety, and fiscal responsibility. Items that don’t fall into those categories may be important, but the district’s first job is to provide a high quality education for all students. Prioritizing core subjects like math, reading, writing, history and science are critical for success in their future.

Encinitas Union

Andre Johnson, At-large

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I’m running because I believe primary education is one the most important elements of success as an adult. We need to focused on them as if they are the future leaders of the world, because they are. Education was my ticket out of poverty and is a pillar of my family’s success. I am passionate about creating a learning environment for all students.

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Provide an environment that allows for individual learning and development with an emphasis on instilling work ethic.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat agree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

I have an MBA and am a business owner. We need to focus on the value being created for the teacher and students. If we realize and maximize the potential of our children, the spending will always be justified. As an example, bringing new technologies into the classroom can streamline lessons being taught and provide instant feedback to the teacher.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

Although it’s the middle and high school board and not the board I am running for, the San Dieguito School District had a 4-0 vote on how to deal with controversial issues. This particular one was on CRT teaching. I would have pushed for all the stakeholders to have a voice and THEN vote instead of just punting on this issue.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Having excellent facilities and classrooms will foster environment for enhanced learning. The pride of ownership and excellence will raise the bar and let the teachers and staff bring the the best tools and resources to their students. If we have a strong fiscal position, allow the leaders of the school to upgrade to the most impactful facilities.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Encinitas is one of the most sought after areas in the county. The students will be in the community and possibly moved here to attend our fine schools. I don’t think that should be a focus of the district.

Marla Strich, At-large

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I want to continue to serve the children and families of Encinitas and South Carlsbad. A strong educational experience for our children is the best way to ensure a strong future for our communities. I strongly support educating the whole child academically, physically and meeting their social emotional needs.

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Meet the needs of all children, specializing the educational structure where needed.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

As a basic aid district our income is determined by our property taxes. We are also grateful for the contributions of our community through PTA and the Encinitas Educational Foundation.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

Because of state law, every March we must issue layoffs, both teachers and other staff, well in advance of knowing our personnel needs for the coming year. This is a frustrating process because of the impact on staff, students and community.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

We need to make sure there are sufficient resources for all children and their families. An example would be providing technology needs, such as computers and hot spots during the pandemic.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Government accountability is important. However, there are processes in place to assure the public has access to financial information for example. As a board member we receive multiple reports from our business professionals to assure we are constantly on track.

Raquel Pfeifer, At-large

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

Raquel grew up in Encinitas, attending a local schools. Her children attend a local elementary school, where Raquel has been involved in being a room parent in classes and volunteering on campus for different events. Raquel is devoted to her community to help ensure all children have access to a quality education meeting their individual needs. 

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Strongly disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Encinitas Union School District prioritizes the whole child and a well rounded education. To maintain and increase student enrollment, schools can be seen as the heart of the community. Encinitas is an increasingly expensive place to live, making it difficult for families to afford to live in the district. Schools can support parents in connecting them to resources that support education and other basic needs.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

Encinitas Union School District has strong financials and a team that ensures all opportunities are taken to pursue new revenues and that budgets are balanced.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

NA

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Encinitas is a diverse community and all families deserve to have a space at the table. I would work to create points of entry need to be made for those families who have historically not been at the table. Resources need to be made available and targeted to families who need tools to support their children’s education.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

It is impossible to identify a lowest priority issue regarding children. I would listen to the community, including children, parents, teachers and staff, to hear how they rank priority issues.

Emily Andrade, At-large

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I have served in education for 49 years. In addition to serving on the EUSD School Board for 12 years, I served the children and families of Encinitas as a principal for 17 years and  children of Santee for 20 years as an Assistant Supt. of Curriculum & Instruction, Vice Principal and Teacher. I am committed to a quality education for every child.

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Strongly agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

We must continue to provide an exceptional education for every child ensuring that we are meeting every child’s needs.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

Because our district is Basic Aid, our funding is based on property taxes which fortunately provide us with adequate funding to provide our children with an exceptional education. We are also very blessed to have businesses that we partner with for support. We continue to pursue new business partners. Our parents also generously support programs.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

A state requirement states that we must notify any teacher who will not be employed the next year by March 15th. So frequently in March we are required to give employees pink slips in the event that we are unable to employ them the next year. This is very distressing because we value the people. We need to change the state requirement.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

We are addressing my highest priorities. We hired a Multi-Tiered Support Specialist at every site to help address the achievement gap. We have hired a TRAC teacher at every site to address social/emotional needs of students. We examine and discuss district finances multiple times a year.  We are training all staff on equity, diversity & inclusion.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Our school district is transparent and works hard to ensure that parents are well informed of every decision and action. All our meetings are held in public. We adhere strictly to the Brown Act and do not discuss or make decisions outside of our meetings. The district communicates in multiple ways to ensure that every parent is well informed.

San Marcos Unified

Stacy Carlson, Area E

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I have been on the San Marcos School Board since 2014. I am a passionate advocate for public education and children’s issues. I believe public education is the great equalizer in society, giving all children the chance to reach their full potential. I am committed to that ideal and am excited to continue to advocate for our children and schools.

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]; www.carlson4smusd.com

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

The best way to improve declining enrollment is to create schools and programs that attract new students to the district as well as maintaining strong relationships with the students and families currently attending.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

It is becoming increasingly clear that school districts will need to begin to bring in their own supplemental sources of revenue. SMUSD has begun to look into various ways of sourcing income including community and public/private partnerships. We are also auditing our systems and making the appropriate adjustments as needed.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

3/18- Voted against layoffs. The law forces districts to consider layoffs BEFORE the budget is passed in June, I felt the number was high and that layoffs would likely be rescinded. 7/20- Voted against COVID return plan as presented. It placed undue hardships on students and staff- directed to keep the return as close to normal as possible.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

We have worked hard to find the right method for communication to staff and the community. Transparency and relationships are critical to a functioning organization and communication is key. Financial stability is also key. We have worked hard to pass a budget philosophy, adopted prudent budgets, ordered internal systems audits and more.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Facilities have already been upgraded through Prop K. Achievement, life skills, extras, and enrollment are ranked lower because if we do well at focusing on the priorities of equity, financial stability, climate, and transparency; those will increase enrollment, achievement, etc.

Sharyl Cavellier, Area E

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am a former Spanish teacher and currently work in mental health as a family therapist. There is a strong desire for a parent voice on the school board. I decided to run for school board because of my education, experience and passion for all things community and family related.  

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected], www.sharyl4smusd.com

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Public trust in public education is at an all time low. Focus on what students need to know to be successful  in today’s world. Our system is antiquated. Currently it is one size fits all. Many students are disengaged. Build individual tracks based on skills, abilities, and interests.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

District finances are complicated. Our deficits come from not adapting well to reduced state funding. A deep audit should be done of all administrative positions. Salaries, benefits and pensions of classified and certified personnel take up 86% of the budget. Student supplies, services and programs should not be cut, they should be streamlined.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

The Board approved the SDCOE Comprehensive Health Grant (7/14/22) which forces schools to align with the CA Health Education Framework. This document supports Queer Theory, equity and inclusion. It is invasive, undermines families, and will destroy student and teacher moral. We need to pause implementation until we have a community discussion.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

My highest priority is to provide students with a safe, quality educational experience that allows options for college prep, trade or technical training. The Future Center at Mission Hills should be supported and developed to connect students to the local work community and provide school credits for mentorship programs.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Diversity, equity and inclusion is my lowest priority. Instead of raising students up, it brings everyone down. Canceling honors programs or AP courses does not help those who are struggling. Find out what will motivate a student to be in class and to study. Lose the one size fits all approach.

Stephanie Carroll, Area C

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I’m an educational consultant, parent of three children in SMUSD, and an active volunteer with our local Girl Scout troops, swim team, San Diego-Imperial swimming, church, and my children’s school. I am running for school board to represent parents and students and promote student academic support, mental health, and fiscal transparency.

How can voters best reach you?

stephanie4smusd.com, [email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

To address the declining enrollment, our district needs to focus on the priorities that matter to families. Before COVID, families moved to San Marcos due to the district’s reputation for outstanding schools and teachers. However, many students initially left due to distance learning and COVID protocols that didn’t work for them or their families. While distance learning is no longer in place and masks and long quarantines are not required, parents have lost confidence in the district’s commitment to Children First. Rebuilding this trust back starts with acknowledging the shortfalls from COVID and working towards better plans for handling future crises.   

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat agree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

Declining enrollment is the biggest issue facing our district and my priority will be to increase student enrollment by addressing the concerns that drive parents from our schools. Our district has also been on the state’s financial watchlist and we need to prioritize balancing our budget to avoid insolvency and teacher layoffs.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

In March, our district needed to lay off 190 teachers and support staff in order to reduce deficit spending. However, the board approved spending $547,035 on raises to administrators (4/19/22, item 9.3). I would have voted “no” on the latter until the budget was balanced–teaching and taking care of students should come first.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Mental health is extremely important for our students, and I support maintaining mental health and social emotional resources for students at all school levels. One of the areas of deep concern is bullying. I want to explore the dynamics on each campus to learn how we can address these concerns and help our students feel safe on campus.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

San Marcos Unified athletics are some the best in San Diego County, and we have done an amazing job supporting our athletic programs. Thanks to Prop K, many of our aging school campuses have been renovated and modernized and are not in desperate need of furthering updating.

Escondido Union

Joan Gardner, Area 2

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I have lived in Escondido since 1983 and have served on EUSD’s Board of Education continuously since first being elected in 1998. I am the retired President of Paul C. Gardner, Inc., as well as the mother of five sons. It is critical that Escondido Union School District provide a strong educational foundation to our students.

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]/(760) 489-2663

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

We must be able to demonstrate to parents our commitment to provide a high-quality individualized education to all students.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat agree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

Examine and eliminate inefficient, ineffective programs and services in the EUSD budget, as well as those that have outlived their usefulness – all in the context of how they serve the education of our students. Be averse to taking on more debt without careful cost benefit analysis.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

Regular Meeting of the EUSD Board of Education – November 14, 2019. Agenda items N- 6 thru 9. Establishment of a Mello Roos special tax assessment district for new housing development in Escondido. My vote was no on all items. Any bond indebtedness needs to be approved by a vote of all Escondido homeowners and the obligation shared district wide.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Discipline and school climate foster an effective learning environment. Parents will be fully informed of the process and offered the opportunity to opt in to having their child evaluated for mental health issues and if necessary further services.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

We should not be dividing our students into special grievance groups. Prioritizing one group over another is divisive and damaging to the educational process. Every child is important and valued. We must address the tremendous pandemic learning loss without bias – based solely on need.

Georgine Tomasi, Area 4

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am running for re-election to continue providing Escondido students, parents and community schools where all students have an opportunity to unlock their full potential to succeed.

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Offer a variety of programs that meet the needs and interests of both students and parents.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

Escondido Union School District is a fiscally responsible district that weathered many storms, including the past pandemic. Because of our prudent and wise spending habits, there was ample money to put a variety of safety measures in place such as the purchase of industrial size HEPA air filtration units in all rooms and classrooms. 

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

I read and research all materials on the agenda thoroughly before making a decision. If I disagreed with a particular item, I voted accordingly.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

I voted, consistently, to hire more intervention teachers to help fill the achievement gap for students and voted to use any additional monies for the purpose of reducing class sizes in all classrooms throughout the district. 

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Forty-three years in the field of education as a former teacher, working with teachers, current board member, athletics such as football, baseball, basketball, track, have never been top priorities. I preferred to redirect monies to expand extracurricular to include debate teams, archeology, civics education, financial literacy, etc.

Zesty Harper, Area 4

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am a mother, an educator, and student advocate—running for the school board. I have three daughters in our local schools and believe we need common sense back on the board. My top priorities are student mental health, campus security, school choice and high academic achievement. Together, I believe we can make Escondido schools thrive.

How can voters best reach you?

ZestyforSchoolBoard.com

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Creating strong academic programs that attract students to our district would improve our declining enrollment.  The district must create learning environments where students feel safe and have the opportunity to be challenged academically.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly agree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

The district must be more transparent with their spending and create a budget strategy that does not rely on deficit spending. With soaring costs, the district should take a modernized approach to purchasing agreements, look for opportunities for community investment in the district and condensing under used facilities.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

One area I would disagree with the district on is their minimum pay for their classified employees.  We have hard working employees and no one should be making minimum wage.  The board is working to approve barely keeping employees at the median salary of the surrounding area, with our entry level employees making $14.26 an hour.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

When we don’t improve student academic achievement, we are setting up our students to fail in life.  Schools should be, at minimum, providing the basic skills (read, writing, math, critical thinking) to a proficient level for each student.  Programs need to be constantly monitored and adapted to reach students and improve outcomes.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Our district does a great job reaching out to families and has a system in place that engages families, offers learning opportunities, and provides access to resources.  That system is working well and other areas can use additional resources instead.

Oceanside Unified

Allyson Mineau, Area 1

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am a wife and mother of two young children. I became an advocate when my daughters and children throughout the State of California became locked out of their classrooms.I along with other advocates helped to reopen our schools. Parents should have the opportunity to make educational choices for their children, not politicians and unions. 

How can voters best reach you?

[email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Strongly agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Strong academics without divisiveness and activism.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Somewhat agree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

Reduce/ streamline spending and program reforms

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

March 2020 school boards closed their doors to students. Our most vulnerable left behind.This due to influence and pressure of the teachers unions, who chose greed and power over science. And continued when shown to be harmful.Children became isolated, mental illness skyrocketed and devastating learning loss. I am for students and families first.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Securing a stable and efficient academic performance from students and adding to their overall success. And having mental health interventions and resources.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

There are no proven statistics for academic achievement and social and emotional well-being. Teachers are not credentialed counselors or social workers.

Nancy Licona, Area 1

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I believe all students deserve to have access to a safe and supportive place to learn. My diverse experience working directly with our community allow me to bring a unique perspective to the table. I’ve been a school counselor for the past 7 years and have seen how school closures and the pandemic have impacted student mental health and learning.

How can voters best reach you?

Email: [email protected], Website: www.nancylicona.com

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Schools need to create spaces so that families, students, staff and community members can offer input and provide feedback regarding what their needs are. Schools and districts should include stakeholders in the decision-making process and have a plan to respond to their needs. Schools and districts should also strive to offer more choices for students to connect and engage in the curriculum.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

As a district, we should continue to apply for state and federal grants, such as community school grants, to secure additional funding for our schools.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

The school board decision I disagree with the most was the cuts to bussing in 2019. Access to transportation is crucial to ensure students attend school regularly. I would encourage the school board to examine other areas where we could reduce spending to be able to provide transportation to students.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Given my background as a school counselor, my highest priority is advocating for mental health and wellbeing of students. I will advocate to reduce the student-counselor ratio and partner with community providers to connect families to outside resources.I work with students and families on a daily basis and bring a unique perspective to the table.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

I ranked government transparency and accountability the lowest because it is an area that should already have an established system in place district-wide, and therefore, wouldn’t require constant revision of its processes.

Palomar College

Frank Xu, Area 1

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I’m a parent of two, president of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation. I decided to run for the Palomar College Board to put an end to the race-obsessed identity politics dominating the conversation and refocus the district on the things that matter – improving the quality of education for our students and preparing them for successful careers.

How can voters best reach you?

https://www.frankxuforpalomar.com/ [email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Strongly disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Analyze the changing market on colleges. Find the niche market. Improve the quality of education. Rebuild the trust from public.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly agree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

Just a few years ago the California Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team identified that Palomar College was on the brink of insolvency, due to poor fiscal management and overly generous compensation and benefits packages. We must address these challenges to ensure Palomar remains a reliable academic resource for future generations.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

Palomar College has been wrought with leadership challenges, fiscal crisis, and declining enrollment. Yet the board seems to focus most of their time and attention to political and social issues. I strongly disagree with this approach and will refocus the board on academic achievement and preparing students for a globally competitive workforce.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

I believe that special interests have dominated the decision making process at Palomar for too long, thanks to their spending hundreds of thousands of dollars controlling election outcomes. We need independent, outsiders who are answerable only to the families and students of our district, not special interests.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

The current board has become distracted with political and social issues under the guide of “diversity/equity/inclusion.” I am a strong believer in promoting diversity of thought and true inclusiveness, but families in North County deserve a board solely focused on improving academic outcomes, not playing politics and advancing social agendas.

Kartik Raju, Area 4

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

As a current trustee, I have supported Palomar Community College in reaching financial stability, student accessibility, and equitable benefits for faculty and staff. I am running to ensure Palomar continues to provide excellent educational opportunities while increasing fiscal security, enrollment, and accessibility (especially to our veterans).

How can voters best reach you?

rajuforpalomar.com, [email protected]

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Strongly agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Meet students where they are and give students the opportunities to learn the skills they need to succeed now. Also, continuing to support the Palomar promise program to support students needing financial aid.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

I have supported a number of key strategies to turn our deficit into the surplus we have today. Scrutinizing the budget to ensure Palomar College expenditures are student-focused and reduce excess spending is key. Also, continuing to review bids to secure a fair price for the additional resources and facilities that support our students.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

On one of my first board meetings (10/5/21) as a trustee, I voted in favor of a bleacher bid  which I believe could have been researched and presented far better. While the bid was still sound, I would have asked far more questions and wanted additional details to ensure the public saw Palomar College did its due diligence.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Student enrollment is an issue across all community colleges in the state. I want Palomar to boost enrollment through expanded offerings at our centers and more dual enrollment opportunities for high school students. I also believe in bringing opportunities to students in their communities by offering courses in trusted community spaces.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

I do not believe “Class Size and Hiring More Teachers” will support our students better than increasing the number of classes we provide with our current faculty.

Cardiff 

Andrew Howard, At-large

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am a product of public schools, founded two businesses that work in public schools, and believe that public schools are the bedrock upon which our free society is built. I want to give back.

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Strongly disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Offer more enrichment opportunities and proactively teach mental wellness to our students in an era of increasing trauma.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

We are fortunate to live in a community where our schools are well funded, and are able to successfully raise additional funds from parents to support discretionary programs. My top priorities wouldn’t involve raising revenue or cutting cost, but directing those costs to programs that will increase enrollment and promote wellness with our students.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

The redesign of Cardiff Elementary was handled poorly. There were clear liabilities to the decision that the board should have better understood and which could have been addressed by bringing the stakeholders together before unilaterally approving a design that led to years of litigation and unnecessary cost.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

We teach math and reading based on standards that the State of California has adopted. I propose that we also adopt a Social and Emotional Learning curriculum that addresses the standards that the standards that the state has adopted as well. (https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/se/). We need to empower our students’ mental health.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Our students are fortunate to have great facilities and overall don’t struggle with discipline. That should allow us to focus our energies on areas that less fortunate districts would consider luxuries, like enrichment activities, mindfulness training, and providing targeted remediation to students who need it most.

Rancho Santa Fe

Kali Kim, At-large

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I am a CPA, mom and continuous resident of Rancho Santa Fe for over 11 years. If reelected, I will fight to continue the improvement of the District’s curricula, professional development and tools in the classroom to achieve growth for all students. I will work collaboratively to lead the creation of a living mission and vision in the District.

How can voters best reach you?

KaliKimforRSF.com

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat agree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Accountability for growth in each student.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

Balancing the District’s budget with the District’s long term priorities. Critical examination of technology expenditures to ensure the use is to customize learning experiences rather than busy work or test preparation. Long term budgeting and seek grants for solar panels to reduce rising energy costs while providing more shade.

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

The current superintendent’s resignation should have been deliberated further. She balanced the budget, kept our schools open, and implemented a new curriculum so I should have waited until midyear to consider her resignation. Doing so would have continued her effectiveness through the end of the year and created a transparent, smooth transition.

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

We have a deep history of participation for the benefit of the school and commitment to community. Parents supporting the foundation with time and donations, staff availability and outreach during breaks, before and after school, students being held accountable for their actions. This participation results in a culture of dignity and school pride.

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

Job/Personal Finance/Other Life Skills are not as relevant in a K-8 school district. The District needs to expose our students to diverse topics and skills through our enrichments and electives.

Solana Beach 

Debra H Schade, Area 1

Briefly tell us about yourself and why you’re running.

I believe in quality public education and the opportunities it provides.  I am seeking re-election to continue SBSD’s reputation for delivering excellent student centered education, a place where every child knows they belong, they matter and they are safe. My priorities are putting students first – academic excellence – cooperative partnerships.

How can voters best reach you?

www.schade4kids.com

Elected officials should strive to discern and follow the popular will, even if they and the technical/professional experts on staff don’t personally agree with popular sentiment. 

Somewhat disagree

What is the best to improve declining student enrollment?

Academic excellence with a whole child focus and affordable housing for families.

How strongly do you agree with this statement: The school district should seek to add more charter schools to its portfolio of schools.

Strongly disagree

What are your top priorities or best ideas to improve district finances (e.g. areas to reduce/streamline spending, new revenues, program reforms, public-private partnerships, alternative management of assets/liabilities)?

Strong fiscal oversight and transparency is critical. Budget planning cycles that align with our LCAP and district strategic goals best drive innovation while making informed decisions about resource allocations. SBSD continues to maintain low class sizes, competitively compensate our employees and deliver a world class education. 

What school board decision in the last few years did you disagree with most, and how would you have addressed the issue differently?

I strive to think critically and engage a thorough decision-making process for every board decision. I listen, engage critical stakeholders, and consider all angles of intent and impact to make informed decisions. Our board works collaboratively to reach outcomes that are best for kids, families and our community. 

For your highest priority issue above, sum up what you propose to do about it.

Expansion of comprehensive SEL services for students including increasing the number of school counselors at our schools and the addition of social workers to further expand services for families in need.  Establishing a mobile team of SEL professionals to respond within the district to specific student needs with a whole child approach. 

For your lowest priority, sum up why you think its lowest.

All issues listed are important.  Although elementary school does not have a primary focus in job training and personal finance, we are introducing key components as part of every grade level curriculum.  Through our innovative and award winning STREAM program we focus on critical thinking, working in teams, problem solving, and design thinking. 

— Steve Puterski, Laura Place, Samantha Nelson and Jacqueline Covey contributed reporting.

For more Election 2022 coverage, check out The Coast News’ previews of local, state and federal races and statewide ballot propositions impacting North County. 

CORRECTION: A previous version incorrectly stated Andre Johnson was the parent of a child in Encinitas Union School District. Johnson is not a parent of students in the district. Candidate Raquel Pfeifer is a parent of two children in the district. We regret the error.

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