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

San José Unified School District, Area 4

Michael Melillo

Our children are our ultimate responsibility, and we owe it to them to provide not only a first-class education, but to do it in a safe and supportive environment. The district should enable families to support their children in the choices they make in life and in education.

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

    1.) Closing the achievement gap - We need to continue to fund our students based on equity, and promote early childhood education where the gap is the widest. 2.) The housing/affordability crisis impact on our teachers and staff - Our staff should be able to afford to live near where they work. We should combine district land with the county Measure A funds to build affordable housing for our teachers. 3.) Increasing funding for education - Sacramento has the most control of our funding, and I intend to lobby hard to legislators to increase funding for education.

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

    Roughly 80% of our budget goes to salaries of our staff, which leaves only a small portion under our discretionary control. I think that it should continue to be spent on the students that need the most support including English learners and special education students. In order for our district's strategic plan to be successful, we need to do a better job of serving these students. When we find programs that work, we must continue to fund them. Even if this means finding creative ways to do so, we have to build on our successes.

  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?

    This is my number one passion and priority when it comes to education. I was in favor of the AB 1754 Pre-K for all bill that was unfortunately heavily amended, and has since been suspended and didn't get to the governor to become law. Aside from a new state law, the next best resource for this is through Santa Clara County, so I will continue to work with them to try and expand access to preschool. We are in such drastic short supply of preschool and childcare that we need all hands on deck to solve this problem.

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

    I think that our new director of special education Seth Reddy is well qualified to help our special needs students that have not been well served over the past years. I regularly attend our CAC-SE meetings and talk with their leadership about ways that our district can better serve the students, and also better communicate with parents to increase their engagement levels in their child's education. I also think that our district needs to do a better job of quickly and properly assessing students so that they can receive the services they require sooner.

  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?

    I think it's important to include our communities as part of the solution. In my part of the district there are various community organizations that provide after school food and tutoring services completely free. Organizations like this should be promoted and can inspire similar organizations to form, and fill out more of our students' day with productive activities. In order for our students to succeed, they need to be cared for before, during and after the school day, and the best way to achieve that is with partnerships with the city, county and community organizations.