Five vie for four seats on GUSD board

Five vie for four seats on GUSD board

The five candidates vying for four seats on the Gilroy Unified
School District Board of Education all agree on at least one thing:
the district’s top priority should be increasing the academic
achievement of each of Gilroy’s 11,000 public school students.
The five candidates vying for four seats on the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Education all agree on at least one thing: the district’s top priority should be increasing the academic achievement of each of Gilroy’s 11,000 public school students.

“There’s no justification for kids not moving up,” said incumbent trustee Jaime Rosso.

Incumbent trustee Tom Bundros said he hoped to see the district develop a “no-nonsense respect for education.”

The four incumbent GUSD trustees who are up for re-election are joined by a newcomer in the race for their seats. Gavilan College instructor Dom Payne, a 37-year-old father of five, joins incumbents Denise Apuzzo, Bundros, Francisco Dominguez and Rosso on this year’s ballot. Election Day is Nov. 2.

Interviews with the five candidates revealed similar views on the district’s academic achievement, a proposed charter school, federal legislation mandating that all children be academically proficient by 2014 and the gloomy state of California’s funding for education.

The four incumbents agreed the current board has established a solid working relationship and mutual respect between board members.

“I think Gilroy has been blessed with an exceptional board,” Bundros said. “It’s been exhilarating working on this board.”

The current GUSD board exemplifies a “civility and respect” incumbent trustee Dominguez said is unique.

But newcomer Payne said he’s poised to offer a fresh perspective to some of the district’s perennial problems. His top goals include preparing more students for college, addressing budgetary issues, ensuring the needs of students with disabilities are met and boosting vocational opportunities.

Like Payne, each of the incumbents brings their own perspective and set of talents to the board. Apuzzo, the mother of three children who went through Gilroy public schools, sees herself as a very visible member of the board.

“I think I get more input than anyone on the board,” she said. Not a day goes by without a call or an e-mail from one of GUSD’s many stakeholders, she said.

Meanwhile, Rosso, the father of three and husband of a GUSD teacher, brings more than eight years of experience as a trustee to the table. He said he looks forward to seeing to completion many of the projects that have been started during his tenure.

“I’m excited about what I see on the horizon,” he said.

With a thinking-outside-the-box mentality, Bundros, the father of six grown children, pointed to how he was the one to introduce GUSD to some of the models for academic success now being implemented in classrooms.

“I’m a fanatic,” he said. “We expect kids to move. If we don’t see that, shame on us.”

For Dominguez, his openness to trying new approaches when the traditional way of doing things isn’t working – even if it involves a risk – is a major strength, he said.

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