Santa Clara County Voter's Guide On Children's Issues

Mountain View-Los Altos High School District

Catherine Vonnegut

I believe that excellent education, mental health, and family support are the most important keys to student success. As a high school district, we need to serve all students to help them achieve their goals academically, socially and emotionally, no matter the range of challenges they face.

  1. What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?

    Top challenges for high schools are academic competition, mental health, and rapidly changing technology. The district continues to review curriculum needs, hire the best teachers and provide superior facilities to assure academic success. Mental health assistance means counseling students, having teachers who can recognize mental health issues and help students in the classroom, and enhancing student, parent and community awareness. The schools need to constantly review new technologies to assess efficacy in the schools. Flexibility and timely implementation are required because technology has changed significantly in recent years.

  2. How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?

    Prioritizing budgeted expenses to address these issues is key therefor lesser priority items may need to be reduced or eliminated. Alternatively aggressive solicitation of more grant funding is a possibility. MVLA Foundation funds items to support our schools. Those funds could also be prioritized to further address these challenges. Use of volunteers in tutoring and other activities can relieve the need for monetary commitment. Use of other mental health partner organizations may alleviate the need for use of our funds. As a computer scientist I can help judge whether technologies are viable and worth the expense for our educational setting.

  3. 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?

    Since the students we serve are high school age, the answer falls into two categories. First, some of our students are the after school/before school care provider for younger siblings. This affects our students’ ability to participate in before and after school enhancement opportunities and ability to spend time studying. Secondly, MVLA has a child care center at the adult school for young parents and ESL students.

  4. What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?

    Inclusion is a complex challenge. Our district monitors academic success with data for all specific groups. MVLA currently has excellent teachers and classroom aides for students with special needs. The district has a coordinator for special education. More staff development could focus on awareness and strategies for the classroom teacher to address special needs. Clubs and student leadership could increase involvement with all types of students. Student leadership might promote awareness and inclusion campus-wide. Peer mentoring may help special needs students integrate with other students.

  5. 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?

    We can increase outreach to parents and high school students regarding how to study and be academically successful. We can continue to coach students how to fund college. The free and reduced lunch program provides food for students at school. The school tutorial centers provide free tutoring in all subjects to students during an extended school day. These existing programs could be enhanced. Addressing transportation challenges may allow students to be at school before and after classes could help them participate in more enrichment programs. Student leadership training and student clubs could encourage more inclusion of diverse students.