Patch asked each school board candidate the same questions via email for our online candidate's forum. A different candidate's answers will be posted every day over the next week. This is the fifth installment. Read . Read . Read . Read .
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 wife, Kelly, and I have three children. We have lived in the Mayflower Village area for the past 11 years.
I grew up in rural South Dakota on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. I received my bachelors of science from South Dakota State University, majoring in health, physical education and recreation with two minors--one in chemistry, and another in athletic training. I received my masters of science in school administration from California State University at Fullerton. Recently, I completed a school business management certificate program at USC.
I retired September 1, 2011, from a career in public education that spanned 34 years. I have taught chemistry, physics, algebra, physical education, and computer applications. I also served 19 years as a school administrator. I have served as co-director of Region 15 “Destination ImagiNation”, an international creative problem solving competition that promotes teamwork while testing students ability to think on their feet. I have coached wrestling, and served as an athletic trainer.
Now that I am retired, I am hoping to give back to public education by serving as board member with . My experience, skills and interest will allow me to make a significant contribution to MUSD.
2. What unique qualifications do you have to guide us through the ever tightening and shrinking budgets due to funding issues caused by the budget mess in Sacramento? (submitted by blogger )
During the time I served as a principal, I worked collaboratively with the faculty and school site council to manage both categorical and general fund budgets at the school site. I have successfully written and implemented grants. I hold a certificate in school business management from USC, and I have experience managing maintenance and operations. You will find that I am both resourceful and entrepreneurial in my approach to find new funding sources and recruitment of volunteers.
3. With limited funding, what are your priorities for educating our students? (submitted by reader Betty Sandford)
The main priority is to find new sources of income and monitor spending. I also plan to promote a mentoring program that involves both peer and adult mentors.
4. Do you think No Child Left Behind is working? If not, how do you intend to influence the State Board of Education on the option to opt-out of No Child Left Behind, as well as any other regulation of education that the teachers insist is holding kids back. (submitted by reader Danielle Elgin)
The goal behind NCLB is commendable. We all want every child to achieve at high levels. The problem is that the approach has teachers and administrators focusing on teaching students how to answer multiple-choice questions.
Federal dollars are tied to NCLB and it is not likely that the state board could be influenced to opt out. I will focus my time on trying to influence what we can do locally to improve students’ opportunities to become creative problem solvers.
5. What do you think of the test score trends in the district? Are state test scores an accurate measure of the performance of teachers and the school district?
If you look at the test scores below, it is clear that the district has made steady growth on standardized tests over the past six years. Using test scores to compare schools or teachers is not accurate. It does not consider class demographics, and the test only measures students’ skills at answering multiple-choice questions.
API score 2006
API score 2007
API score 2008
API score 2009
API score 2010
API score 2011
Wild Rose Elem
Sante Fe Middle
6. Did you send your children to Monrovia schools? If so, what did you think of the education they received. If not, why not?
My three children have attended Arcadia schools. I live in an area of the district where residents can choose which district they want to attend. My wife graduated from Arcadia High and wanted our children to carry on the tradition.
7. Considering the reaction from some in the community to the rejection of Rent being performed at Monrovia High School, what moral responsibility does the superintendent and school board have in determining what students are exposed to? What principles would guide you in such decisions?
The superintendent and the school board members have a responsibility to be informed about the curriculum and related state guidelines and regulation. Furthermore they must be informed and sensitive to community values and attitudes regarding curricular issues.
Good communication between students, teachers, parents, community members, the superintendent and board members can prevent controversial curriculum issues from escalating to a crisis situation. The Board's responsibility is to set policy that will allow civil dialogue about the controversial issues related to curriculum. Parties on both sides of an issue can form new opinions when they listen to understand. My decisions are guided by determining the educational value of the curriculum materials after carefully studying the issues.
8. One issue the district has grappled with is how to manage community use of school facilities by outside groups like the Monrovia Youth Baseball League. How do you think this has been handled, and what, if anything, would you do differently?
I’m not familiar with how the youth sports organizations were informed about the fee increase. If they have traditionally used the field free and were not brought in to be part of the discussion that would explain the ill feelings. I would first ask for an itemized accounting of districts cost to maintain the fields based on mowing schedules, irrigation, thatching, aeration, fertilizing and seeding.
I believe it necessary bring together representatives of the district CSEA, MYBL, MHS baseball and soccer coaches and any other parties that might be able to offer a solution. It’s possible that the district might still have to charge a fee, but the community would at least have a chance to have input before a final decision was made. It’s hard to put a price on what a child learns from youth sports. I would prefer to find another way to cover the cost of maintaining the fields.
9. Given the continued budget pressures, what has the current school board done well to navigate the district out of the crisis. What about their performance needs improvement?
I believe you’ll get more accurate information about current board accomplishments from the incumbent candidates. Further, they can give you a better assessment of what they have learned and how they might improve.