Gilroy Unified School District board candidate Linda Piceno speaks during a forum Oct. 4 at the Gilroy Library.
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Gilroy Dispatch: Briefly describe your background and experience. Why are you qualified for this position?
Linda Piceno: I have the unique experience of having been an administrator in Gilroy Unified at all levels: high school, middle school, elementary and assistant superintendent. I was responsible for personnel, budget, curriculum and facilities. I have experience at the negotiating table as both a teacher and as management. I am a bilingual Latina with a passion to support public education.
GD: What are your thoughts on Common Core? Did you support it? What do you thinks needs to be done to make it successful?
LP: California has adopted Common Core and it must be implemented. I have not been directly involved in its implementation, but I have read about it and talked with teachers about it. I am in favor of its promotion of critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration. As with any curricular change, what is always needed is a deep understanding of that which is to be implemented, appropriate and sufficient materials, and quality staff development.
GD: The City is experiencing a boom in growth, especially with its residential developments. More residents will undoubtedly have an impact on GUSD, what do you feel is the best way to handle the influx?
LP: The District and City have a duty to work together to make sure the children in those residential developments have safe access to quality facilities and quality teachers and staffs. The process for building new schools is complex and takes time. A district is often impacted for years before a new school can be built. Historically, Gilroy Unified has been in a growth mode and must continually plan for new schools. The district does this through their use of consultants to estimate student populations at each level and their district facilities committee. New growth impacts the school district’s resources and finances. Working together, the District and the City can address these issues to the advantage of all concerned.
GD: Do you think it should be easier to fire underperforming teachers? What steps should be taken in order to do so?
LP: The first approach should always be to support and coach an underperforming teacher with the goal of helping him or her become the outstanding performing teacher our students deserve. That being said, as with all professions, there are those who lack the skills to become good teachers. I believe in due process, but believe it is in everyone’s best interests to shorten, not eliminate, the Education Code requirements of timelines and processes.
GD: What are a few of the goals you would like to achieve if elected to the school board?
LP: I would like to attract and retain quality employees in the District.
I would like to be part of the District and City working together to efficiently use our resources to promote a quality education for all of Gilroy’s children.
GD: What do you feel are some of the biggest issues GUSD is facing? Briefly explain how you would fix them.
LP: Attracting and retaining quality employees. Salary and benefits are part of the solution. Support, communication and recognition are also parts of the solution.
Growth is an issue that will continue to impact GUSD. There must be cooperation between the District and the City to plan for development and its impact.
GD: Technology in the classroom is on the rise. What are your thoughts on using tablets and other devices as learning tools? Are they helpful or a distraction? How can schools, in your opinion, put these to use most effectively?
LP: The majority of teachers were probably born before 1974. They did not grow up with computers, iPads or cell phones. Their students were born after 1996 and these tools are a natural part of their lives. We need to train and support teachers in the use of technology.
GD: What is your position on charter schools?
LP: Gilroy has had the experience of both an unsuccessful and a successful charter school. In a perfect world, GUSD’s schools would be so outstanding that parents would not want to look for an alternative to them. Until that day, we work to support and closely monitor quality alternatives for our students.
The following is a Q&A sent out by the Gilroy Dispatch and answered by Linda Piceno, a candidate for the Gilroy Unified School District Board of Education. Links to the other candidates’ answers can be found at the bottom of this article. 
Check out Linda’s Facebook page here.
She can also be contacted via email at [email protected].

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