Four seats, six candidates for GUSD board

Gilroy Unified School District school board incumbent Pat Midtgaard.

Four at-large Gilroy Unified School District Board of Trustee incumbents will appear on the November 2014 ballot, and two challengers joined the race—a Santa Clara County educator and the district’s retired assistant superintendent of human resources.
Tom Bundros, Patricia Midtgaard, Jaime Rosso and Dom Payne are all seeking re-election—with challengers Heather Bass and Linda Piceno joining the race, according to candidacy papers filed with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters.
Rosso, owner of Rosso’s Furniture on Monterey Street, said that after much consideration and some encouragement, he decided to seek a fourth term.
“If the voters will have me, I promise to continue my commitment to service and our public schools. I will continue the leadership and support necessary for continuous improvement for our students, teachers and community.”
Midtgaard, a retired school principal and lifelong educator, is seeking another term.
“As an incumbent, I can see the direction the District is heading in key areas (academic gains, facilities, finance) and would like to continue this momentum, Midtgaard said.
“Initial steps have been taken in implementing LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula) and consistent follow-through is critical to the District. I understand and respect the work of staff members whose responsibility it is to implement Common Core and know it is essential to continue to provide continued support for their efforts.”
Bundros said there are some important initiatives he has been instrumental in developing, and he’d like to see them through to a successful conclusion.
“Gilroy Unified School District has been a large part of my life, and I want to ensure it succeeds,” Bundros said.
Bass, a special education teacher for Santa Clara County Office of Education at Gateway School in Gilroy for 13 years, said she comes from a long line of educators; her parents, Russ and Nancy Hendrickson and grandmother Carol Gilmore were all teachers in the community.
“I am a teacher, a parent and community member. I want to represent the wants and needs of parents and teachers living and working in our community,” Bass said.
Piceno, who has 32 years of experience in the district working as a teacher, administrator and superintendent of human resources, said her experience will allow her to hit the ground running and that she plans to work hard alongside board members to “ensure the best possible education for Gilroy students.”
“I’m committed to public education and strongly believe all children ought to have a rigorous curriculum and quality staff and facilities,” Piceno said. “Our community deserves a district that is well managed and fiscally responsible.”
Payne did not return calls as of press time.
More information
Visit for full responses to several questions to be published as they become available, and thank you to all board members for your patience and cooperation.
Q&A with school board candidates
Q: Where is the district is headed in the next four years?
Heather Bass
A: Gilroy is adopting Common Core and on its way to defining how to teach these new standards. Gilroy has expanded special education with many new hires in the ranks. The board is going to be faced with issues important to teachers, and it is in the interest of our community that we retain our good teachers. The board can make effective decisions to support teachers and enable them to continue serving children in our community.
Tom Bundros
A: There are big changes and improvements coming to GUSD in the next four years. A big focus for the district will be the implementation of the Common Core Curriculum mandated by the State of California. It is going to take coordination among board members, administrators and teachers to implement it in the most effective way for our students. The need for informational technology (IT) is growing. In the next four years we need to develop a rational, affordable and sustainable plan that suits the schools and students’ needs. With the growing number of students, we are also planning for a new elementary school.
Patricia Midtgaard
A: A district is never static. With 1,000 employees and 11,500 students, change will always be a constant. A trustee on a school board must always have a forward-looking stance, while learning from past mistakes and successes. A few situations that the GUSD Board will probably face in the coming years are:
Financial challenges
1. Providing current technological support that will help our staff and students in fully implementing Common Core expectations;
2. Continually looking for ways to compensate GUSD staff at a more competitive level;
3. Improving and maintaining facilities throughout the District;
4. Making sound decisions regarding LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula);
5. Maintaining a healthy financial reserve at all times.
Growth issues
1. Finding property for a future elementary school;
2. Working closely with the City of Gilroy through growth phases;
3. Hiring staff necessary for growth.
Curriculum issues
1. Fully implementing the expectations of Common Core at all levels;
2. Continually providing mentoring opportunities and staff development for all staff;
3. Providing materials and technology for changes in how students are taught and assessed.
Dom Payne
A: N/A
Linda Piceno
A: I believe funding will increase, but that good news will be tempered with increases in housing developments, which will impact our facilities. The need to attract and retain a quality staff will continue. Academic improvement, as reflected in the district’s API, has been virtually stalled for the past two years, so attention in this area is essential.
Jaime Rosso
A: We need substantial investment for better access to technology in the classroom to provide the meaningful technical skills necessary for a relevant 21st century education and promote job readiness.
Educational reforms: we’re undergoing a major transition to Common Core instruction. The district must focus on ongoing training and professional development to teachers to improve instruction and student engagement, to better prepare students to become effective problem solvers with necessary analytical, collaborative and communication skills. Raising Expectations for all students: implementation of default A-G Graduation Requirements will require greater focus on career pathways and early childhood education.