1. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and why you should be elected or reelected to the Monrovia Unified School District Board of Education.
My name is Scott Pomrehn and from a very young age I have always wanted to serve and help my family, friends, and community. Throughout my high school, college, and professional career, I have always answered the call to help others. Like most, this help is not for personal gain, recognition, or reward, but born out of a sense of compassion and responsibility learned from parents, teachers, professors, and mentors. I am seeking a seat on the Monrovia School Board to serve the students, teachers, parents, administrative staff, and all residents of Monrovia.
Professionally, I consider myself an analyst, a problem solver, a facilitator. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and a Master’s degree in public administration, both from California State University, Long Beach. I have worked in local government for just under 23 years, serving the communities of San Marino, Lakewood, and Downey. In my most recent position, I worked closely with the Downey Unified School District to expand and facilitate S.T.E.M. education, robotics, and Downey’s aerospace history. Personally, I have 17 years as a parent in the Monrovia educational system.
2. What would you say is the distinguishing characteristic that you bring to the table, that qualifies you to be a member of our school board? What is the number one thing you would like to accomplish as a school board member and how will you go about accomplishing it? (Patch reader Gail Arakelian)
To put bluntly, I am a facilitator. I am extremely successful at reaching a goal through teamwork, collaboration, and compromise. I have achieved many successes in my career; I take pride in my ability to get people “rowing” in the same direction, even when strong opinions and philosophies are present.
I have no agenda other than to help teachers teach; students achieve; and listen to proud parents. My role as a board member is to make sure the needs and concerns of parents, teachers, and students are heard and discussed in an open and constructive manner.
3. One key thing school board members are tasked with is voting on budgets and making sure the district is spending wisely. What kind of experience do you have working with budgets?
I have nearly 23 years working with budgets. In every position I have worked, one of my main responsibilities have been developing, reviewing, approving, implementing, and auditing budgets. This experience includes grants from all levels of government and private foundations. I was honored to receive the very first Award of Financial Reporting Achievement while employed at the City of San Marino. I take the responsibility of budget oversight very seriously and have a proven record in the area of finance.
4. Do you think a school board candidate’s personal finance issues, such as previously filing for bankruptcy, should disqualify them for office. If so, why? If not, why not? Would you be willing to take a basic competency test in math and personal finance if it was required? (Patch reader Dan Crandell)
Personal finance issues can be a red flag when considering people for certain positions. As for a board member on the Monrovia school board, I would need more information to determine if disqualification is appropriate. The reasons and circumstances individuals file for bankruptcy very widely and may or may not reflect on an individual’s ability to manage finances. Personally, I have taken tests and have passed both background and credit checks for previous positions. If elected, I expect to have to pass a background check, although I am not sure what is currently required.
5. What is your position on funding more art/music/drama opportunities MUSD students and on censoring student art/music/drama at the high school level specifically? Would you be willing to cut athletics in order to expand the arts? (Patch reader Stephen McCarthy)
All students should be given the opportunity to follow their passion, if more students’ desire classes in the arts and humanities, than more funding should be directed to those programs. Funding should be directed towards programs students and parents want to participate in and be successful in achieving their individual goals. I am willing to put funds where students need warrants putting funds; however, all programs are equally important and I feel every student should experience them all at least once in the educational career.
Censorship is an extremely complex issue. How to apply the protections of the First Amendment of the Constitution has been a challenge for most school boards at one time or another. Without more information, I am against censorship; however, each and every concern should be fully discussed with participation from the affected students. I can think of some situations that might warrants censorship.
6. Did you send your children to Monrovia schools? If so, what did you think of the education they received. If not, why not?
Yes, Ryan, Randi, and Robbie attended Monrovia schools. Each of them received an opportunity to learn what was being taught. Each of them used this opportunity differently. I am grateful for all the knowledge and life lessons they learned.
7. Are you the type of individual who won't buckle under pressure when you can see that your decision is right for students/staff/ the District, while other board members disagree with you? Give an example to support your answer. (Patch reader Gail Arakelian)
There is little real value to proclaim you are on the right side of a 4–1 vote; however, standing up for what I feel is in the best interest of students will always lead me to be the lone vote should I feel strongly about an issue or program. My goal is to work with all members of the educational team to promote constructive dialog and find solutions to issues and concerns facing Monrovia schools. I am an independent thinker and have no problem with the “agree to disagree” outcome of some situations; however, as a member of a five member board, I am also responsible to be open minded and fully appreciate all sides and weigh all facts before making a decision.
8. What are your thoughts on how the district’s test scores are trending year to year? How important of a measure do you feel test scores are in determining student achievement? How important do you think they are in evaluating teacher performance?
I have been unable to find any data which indicates state mandated standardized tests help students learn or teachers teach. So I would much rather talk with teachers and parents to determine how schools are trending than rely on test scores. Just because students do well on tests, does not guarantee they will be successful in the classroom. I have very personal experience with the issue of standardized testing and if elected will work hard to educate parents on this issue.
9. The MUSD recently hired a new superintendent. What do you think the board’s role is in working with a superintendent?
The board’s role is to receive information, data, and recommendations from the superintendent, provide direction and guidance based on this information and most important provides support to the superintendent in implementing the decisions of the board. The board should set high level standards and policies and support their implementation by the superintendent, administrative staff, and ultimately teachers.
10. What are your thoughts on the importance of parental involvement in helping students achieve? How will you engage the community to improve public schools in the district?
I believe parent involvement increases the achievement level of students; however, I have seen students achieve greatness without parent involvement. There is no one formula to guarantee, increase, or maintain student achievement. Does parent involvement help student achievement, absolutely. Can teachers, other students, and administrators make up for parents who might have other commitments and not have the time they wish they had to participate, absolutely.
I will engage the community by promoting the need for ever citizen to be involved in the education of youth. This will not be limited to our district. Although my number one priority will be students in Monrovia, our students interact with other students, and our parents talk with other parents. We cannot operate in a silo only thinking about public school in our district. Educating our youth is something every citizen can participate in achieving. My role is to identify the opportunities and promote them in a way that people feel appreciated and rewarded.
I have already started to engage the community by getting residents to register to vote, educate themselves regarding the qualifications of the four candidates, and voting.