The education of our children is the most critical investment we make to assure a future with both economic prosperity and a thriving democracy.
What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?
Affordable housing and healthcare along with access to a quality education are the three top issues affecting our children and families. As a high school board trustee, my focus is on providing a quality education. I'm committed to assuring that each student graduates prepared for college and career, empowered to transform their lives and thrive in a global society. During my tenure on the East Side Union High School District Board the dropout rate has been cut in half, the graduation rate now exceeds the state average and 4 out of 5 graduates enroll in college within one year.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
I believe in fiscal responsibility. Programs that provide for the advancement of student achievement should always remain the the highest budget priority. Overhead should be kept to a minimum and waste must be eliminated. I championed the district's solar energy project, saving $43 million and refinanced bonds, saving $22 million. I've used my business experience to establish an independent Audit Committee, making sure that tax dollars are used efficiently with a focus on students. Our last eight audits have been clean, without findings.
What steps will you take to address the high cost and lack of availability of quality child care and preschool programs in our communities, especially for low-income children and English language learners?
I advocated and our board supported the allocation of $1,000,000 in bond funds to be used in cooperation with the Franklin-McKinley School District for the construction of the 34,000 sq. ft. Santa Clara County Educare facility. The school is a laboratory for teacher training and high-quality early learning. Teachers work with children to develop literacy and early math skills, as well as social-emotional skills: the ability to focus on a task, persistence, impulse control and cooperation with peers.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
Approximately 11% of students in the East Side Union High School District students are involved in special education programs. Our board has voted last year to significantly increase staffing in this area.
Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the "opportunity gap" that low-income children and children of color experience, including lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors and enrichment activities. If elected, what steps will you take to address this issue?
Our district has adopted an equity policy, allocating funds based upon the needs of students. We have placed a social worker on each campus to direct students and families to community resources that are available for basic needs of food and health care. We offer summer school bridge programs to make sure students are ready for the next class level. Special programs are available to assist those who are first in their family to graduate from high school and attend college. We operate five additional small high schools that are focused on students who are behind in graduation credits.