1. Are you supporting Measure P, the $150 million Gilroy Unified School District facilities bond on the November ballot? If yes, why, and what are your priorities for the money? If not, why not, and how do you envision the future for GUSD facilities?
Yes. The District is in dire financial condition and has a growing student population. The bond will not increase the amount currently paid in property taxes, as it will simply replace Measure J, which expires in 2011. My number one priority for use of the bond money would be to reduce debt.
2. Do you believe career and technical training should be an integral part of the educational offerings in GUSD?
Absolutely. We must recognize that our students are individuals with different strengths and different needs. I have many friends working in the trades that make an extremely good living. We should also try to partner with business so that students can gain real world experience and potential job opportunities.
3. Our dropout rate in GUSD has been marked at about 26 percent. Are there some strategies you would advocate as a trustee to reduce that number, and what would be an acceptable number?
To reduce the dropout rate we first need to understand why students are dropping out. According to District staff, no studies have been conducted examining this issue. That should be a top priority for the Board. I don’t believe that there is an “acceptable” number for a dropout rate, other than zero.
4. If elected, what would be your top three priorities and why?
Fiscal Responsibility and Accountability
The District cannot continue spending money that it doesn’t have. The District needs to make better decisions with its limited resources, and carefully review all contracts. It also needs to maximize the dollars spent so that every dollar is directly relevant to educating our children.
Recommitment to Music and the Arts
Cuts in funding to our music programs at elementary and middle schools are short sighted. We must educate the entire child, which includes exposure to the arts. It is well documented that children involved in music do better in academic subjects and in addition, have higher self esteem. Music should not be considered a “luxury” item in education, but rather a staple, like mathematics and English.
Enhanced Vocational Training Opportunities at High School
We must provide the opportunity for every student to go to college or to obtain relevant career and technical training. This training needs to that which can be immediately put to use in the workforce, or used to build upon for additional vocational training. Focusing narrowly on all students transferring to a four year college misses a large number of the students.
5. Describe what you think should be the relationship between Board members and the superintendent in terms of roles.
The Board and Superintendent should work together as a team, with the Board setting general terms and guidelines, and the Superintendent carrying out the direction of the Board. The Board must be responsible for each decision which impacts the budget.
6. What makes you unique as a school board candidate?
As a former member of the school board, I am familiar with general procedures at the District and could hit the ground running. Having been in local law enforcement for twenty years has given me insight on the particular problems facing our youth and our schools. All four of my children have been through the Gilroy Unified Schools, and my wife Pat and I have been active in the PTA and many other school activities. Finally, my experience as an attorney allows me to parse though difficult contracts and understand the relevance of signing a contract and knowing the bottom line in terms of how it will affect the District.