Mark Good has served on the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Trustees for nearly 12 years and wants to continue to work on education issues with what he believes has been a good and effective team of board colleagues.
An attorney and retired Gilroy police sergeant, the incumbent served one four-year term after being first elected in 1996 and did not run in 2000. He ran and won re-election in 2008 and 2012.
Good is one of a trio of candidates actively seeking three seats on the GUSD board. A fourth, Paul Nadeau, withdrew from the contest but his name is on the ballot.
Nadeau has said he will resign if he is one of the top three vote getters. If that happens, the board will appoint an interim member who may run for election in 2018. It does not have to be the fourth-place finisher.
The election comes at a time when trustees are poised to begin $170 million in Measure E building projects, are struggling with somewhat improved but still lackluster test scores and are battling a lawsuit over the districtís decision in 2014 to not fire a teacher now accused of sexual misconduct that targeted students.
Good’s and Pace’s profiles are in today’s edition. Candidate BC Doyle’s profile was published last week.
Each candidate was asked to respond to three questions. Each was given a 700-word limit but could submit less.
Good, 58, is the father and stepfather of five children who went to Gilroy schools. He is a former GUSD board president and supported Measure E.
He is a partner and member of the intellectual property, commercial law and real estate litigation practice groups at Terra Law LLP in San Jose.
Asked why he is running, he said, “Essentially I think we have turned the district around in a lot of ways. A lot of good things are happening. The board I was on in the ’90s did not work nearly as well as the current board.”
Here are the questions posed to each candidate and Good’s responses:
DISPATCH: What are some of your specific goals if elected and how would you achieve them? Please discuss your three top priority goals.
GOOD: My top three goals are 1) reducing the achievement gap; 2) further reducing the dropout rate; and 3) ensuring the safety of our students and staff.
In GUSD, English Language Learners (ELL) represent almost 30 percent of the student population. We have a variety of initiatives in place to help ELLs and are currently in the third year of a master plan for services to English learners. It starts with identification, assessment and proper program placement followed up with appropriate instruction in English language development appropriate to the student. We have made significant improvements in this area and need to continue our forward momentum until the gap is closed.
Since my election to the board in 2008, the dropout rate has been reduced from a high point of 26 percent in 2008 to 7.5 percent in 2015. For the first time, we also now have a program administrator who is responsible for school climate and district attendance. Students who do not attend school regularly are much more prone to drop out. This is an area which has to be constantly monitored.
When I first ran for the board in 1996, I ran on a platform of increasing school safety. I was compelled to run after a student was fatally stabbed at Gilroy High School. Since that time, the high school campus was closed and security fences have been erected at all schools. Safe school locks have been installed at all secondary schools and additional locking devices were purchased for our elementary schools. We have worked closely with the police department while implementing all of these changes, and for the first time this year, we now have two full-time school resource officers assigned to the district.
While some are at or near state averages and others show some improvement, in almost all categories Gilroy’s state test scores are below minimum state standards. This was true in recent and past rounds of tests. What will you do to improve test scores? Fundamentally, the assertion that our test scores “are below minimum state standards” is incorrect. Based on the overall CAASPP data, the district is actually at or above the state average depending on the area.
In this second year of the new Smarter Balanced assessment system, scores across the state, and across the country are significantly lower than on previous (paper and pencil) assessments.
In 2016, GUSD made growth in both English language arts and math, as compared to 2015 (6 percent point increase in ELA, and a 3 percent point increase in math). The district matched the overall state performance in ELA (49 percent met or exceeded standard) and continues to rank above the state in mathematics (In GUSD 40 percent met or exceeded standard).
Santa Clara county tends to score much higher than the state in most academic areas, but much of this is due to the fact that Santa Clara County has very different demographics than much of the state of California.
While GUSD’s overall CAASPP scores are below the county average, when looking at subgroup data, Gilroy was at or above the county average in many significant subgroups on the 2016 CAASPP results. In particular, Hispanic students in both ELA and math, and socio-economically disadvantaged students in math. GUSD made growth at all seven grade levels in ELA. GUSD made growth at six of the seven grade levels in mathematics.
GUSD compared favorably to neighboring school districts in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz.
Gilroy’s public charter school, Gilroy Prep, has consistently been one of the highest scoring schools in the state in key categories and grades tested. Should GP’s methods be mandatory in all GUSD elementary schools and why or why not?
Many of GP’s methods are not permitted under the Education Code and/or collective bargaining agreements. We have implemented some of the same instructional practices, for example use of the MOBI, grouping students for small group reading instruction and using some of the same texts. However, there are many differences as we cannot replicate due to inadequate funding and the Education Code. Some major differences that we cannot implement include iPads and other technology in every classroom at a 1:1 ratio for students, highly trained para-professionals that teach in place of teachers which we are not permitted to do (effectively reducing the class size ratio), and a longer school day. There are also two or three instructional coaches just at GP (which is what we have for eight elementary schools). The bottom line is that they receive more funding than we do and do not have to abide by union contracts, providing more flexibility in how they offer programs and services.