I am committed to Moreland students, families, staff and residents. My family is part of the fabric of the Moreland community and have been for 17 years. I am proud of our diverse and inclusive board who always put students first.
Taking into consideration the profound impact of COVID-19 and the expanded movement for racial justice and equity, what do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?
In the past few months as Moreland Board President, I have brought resolutions forward and subsequent discussions regarding racial/social justice and digital equity. These are two of the top three issues affecting all school districts, including ours. The third issue that is a priority is advocating for full and fair funding for all CA school districts. Currently there are several different funding mechanisms for districts and they are not equitable. Moreland is a smaller district and we are community or LCFF funded. This means we are at the mercy of the state for a large portion of funding and currently are in the midst of a $5M cut and will go 4 or more months in 2021 without any state funds due to funding deferrals. This is untenable and I will continue to advocate for full and fair funding.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
We will ensure that programs, task force(s), and funding priorities are aligned with social/racial justice/equity and digital equity. We will continue to ask questions, request study sessions and progress reports and discuss these issues at our board meetings. These issues are forefront on the minds of our community members as well and will be reflected in public comments during our meetings to keep us mindful of their importance.
For full and fair funding it will require outside advocacy as well as internal advocacy for CA public education. Most folks don't understand how CA school funding works and so providing opportunities for community members to better understand the equity gaps is important.
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?
We are fortunate that Moreland is opening new this year a state preschool program at our Anderson campus. It opened last week in-person in a small cohort mode. Moreland also offers after school care at all of our sites some for a fee and some for free. We also have another Moreland preschool at our Payne campus. I have always found that Moreland provides very good options for families looking for affordable, high-quality child care, We also employ many free and reduced options for families in our area through partnerships with other community-focused organizations like the YMCA.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
In Moreland, we are very supportive of our students with special needs. We provide a scaffold of supports to meet the diverse needs. Our very dedicated staff is focused on helping all students learn. We allocate a major part of our funding to making sure our special needs students succeed and will continue to do so.
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?
I am proud of the Moreland efforts in these areas. In the past few years Moreland has brought a mobile food pantry and service center to our community several times a month. Families can receive assistance instantly and apply for more services. This is a partnership with West Valley Community Services and Sacred Heart.
During the pandemic, one of our main priorities was feeding our families in our community. We applied for and received a waiver to provide "seamless summer" meals from several of our schools to the community. We made sure these programs were open to all and realized quickly that public schools are sadly one of the last safety nets left in our society.
We have worked hard to make sure the digital equity gap is being addressed. Students in Moreland have access to devices and internet hot spots for distance learning. That was rolled out in the Spring and has continued. We want all of our students to have the tools they need to learn.
Pre-COVID, we had an after school enrichment program in which many families in Moreland paid for. Part of the agreement with the provider is that students who could not afford to pay were subsidized by the families who could, reaching a mutually beneficial outcome. Sadly, since we have very little in-person learning happening as of now due to COVID, this program is not operational but we hope to bring it back as soon as our schools are fully re-opened.