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 first installment.
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 Janeane Lechuga Covarrubias and I am a working mom active in the Clifton PTSA, Girl Scout troop 31 and library and literacy program fundraiser. I am a fourth-generation Monrovian and alum with 20 years experience in the advertising and real estate settlement industries.
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 )
From my work experience participating in annual budgeting for publicy traded companies, I do have a working knowledge of how important it is to keep the spending in line with projected income. The only real flexibility we have depends on increasing revenues through increased enrollment. As Monrovians, we also need to urge our legislature to prioritize education. Our children's future depends on it.
3. With limited funding, what are your priorities for educating our students? (submitted by reader Betty Sandford)
Monrovia schools need to continue to strive to stay competitive, this is key at attracting new students. Additionally, it is critical that every student be proficient in math, science, english, and reading. I am very proud of MUSD's ability to expand its music and after school programs during these tough times. Both are a tremendous win for all students district wide.
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)
I think the intentions of No Child Left Behind were good. Unfortunately, implementation has restrained many educators rather than help the children. I am looking forward to a compromise that makes it more efficient for teachers to do their jobs. Stay tuned to breaking stories on this hot topic here: http://idea.gseis.ucla.edu/newsroom/education-news-roundup/2010/daily-news-roundup
5. What do you think of the test score trends in the district? Are state test scores are an accurate measure of the performance of teachers and the school district?
Although test scores are not the end all and be all of a school, I have to admit that MUSD's dramatic increase in test scores is what brought us to in the first place. It is an undisputed fact that test scores are so important to a community that they not only affect student population, but single family residential real estate values. State test scores are a barometer for how children are performing on tests. Period. There are so many factors to consider when evaluating a teacher or district, and these metrics vary depending on who you talk to or what website you reference. To understand more on state benchmarks go here: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/
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 daughter is a new student to the district, in the middle of her second year with MUSD. I am impressed with the cleanliness of the campus, afterschool program, nutrition program, academics, and, last but not least, quality of teaching. I am pleasantly surprised.
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?
If I were on the board now and the issue was revisited by being put on the school board meeting agenda, I think it would be prudent to obtain input from parents, the drama department, and the community as well as give the high school adaptaption of the Pulitzer Prize-winning script a thorough read.
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 think over the years the district has been successful as partnering with various organizations over use of facilities and fields. I think it is important we as a community provide the children of Monrovia every opportunity to engage in sports and outdoor play. I am hoping a compromise can be realized that is in the best interest of the children.
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?
As the district grapples with the expected future shortfall of $2.7 million, it is important the district stays highly focused and creative on balancing the budget and maintaining the required reserves without any future borrowing or taxing. Times will be getting tougher, and we as a district need to pull together to weather the storm. When elected I plan on encouraging the district to engage staff and parents in the process and keep the solutions transparent and out in the open.
Together we can come together and weather the storm and make sure our kids are still receiving the education the deserve. For more on the latest stories affecting K-12 eduction, please check out my Twitter feed @jan4MUSD, or I would love to hear your ideas on Facebook. I look forward to hearing about your ideas on education!