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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Alameda County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Board Member; Castro Valley Unified School District

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Eden Area and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Education Equity, Long Term Finances

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. What specifically can a board member do to ensure that the education equity gap is narrowed or closed for all students?

Answer from Dorothy A "Dot" Theodore:

The board can encourage open communication with all stakeholders: parents, teachers, staff, students and community member. The board can and should encourage the thoughtful outreach to underserved populations and be a part of that effort as an example of their commitment to the process.

Communication is important, not just relaying information to stakeholders, but in hearing the needs, respecting the diverse culture of stakeholders, and acknowledging the need for deeper conversations. To bridge the gap, communication cannot be one sided.

Answer from Gary C. Howard:

The board of education sets policies, allocates resources, and reviews the performance of the district staff and schools. Thus, the board can make closing the achievement gap a priority for the district (particularly in accord with the LCAP process), insure that appropriate resources are made available, and regularly review process toward those goals. In addition, board members must maintain good contact with teachers, principals, and parents to insure the processes are working.

Answer from Janice Friesen:

Board members must be very clear with each other and with the superintendent that closing the achievement gap is of highest priority. That means the budget will support professional development at all levels. New hires in all classifications will be asked to demonstrate their understanding of the achievement gap and discuss their commitment to closing it. Presentations made to the board by schools and staff will address the achievement gap in some way. Board discussion with staff will frequently focus on the issue. It must be in our consciousness with everything we do as board members.

? 2. What is your long-term plan to assure that your jurisdiction has enough money to meet operating needs and service demands?

Answer from Gary C. Howard:

During my first year on our board, I have urged my colleagues to prepare a strategic plan that will set our goals for what we want our district to look like in the next 5-10 years. The plan will combine the answers to questions about how we want to implement the Common Core curriculum, facilitate the LCAP process, close the achievement gap, and otherwise improve the educational opportunities for every student whether they intend to go to college or begin a career. Those decisions will inform of facilities master plan and help us determine if we need new educational facilities and whether we should seek a school bond in the near future. Our district has had essentially no lay-offs or furlough days. This careful management of funds has served our staff and, most importantly, our students with a stable learning environment. I will work to continue that tradition.

Answer from Janice Friesen:

To continue our practices of the last 20 years. Namely, one time money is used for one time expenses and not for ongoing costs and obligations. Reserves are gradually restored for the next downswing in the economy. There will be one! Support our Education foundation. Begin identifying which of our facility needs must be met soon and plan a bond campaign to meet those needs. Begin discussion of our first ever parcel tax. Have all spending transparent and continue to communicate with our community our financial condition and needs. Castro Valley will not receive a large amount of new LCFF money so we need to be prudently cautious in our spending and look for ways to increase revenue (grants, donations, partnerships, smarter business practices) and conserve expenditures.

Answer from Dorothy A "Dot" Theodore:

Although this is a time that money is finally returning to public education, it is important to not be frivolous in making budget decisions. We need to ensure that spending stays closest to our students. The money our district receives from the state is limited, the money we receive from the federal government is limited. My long-term plan for fiscal stability is to ensure that money is spent wisely and closest to students. I would advocate for a budget that fulfills the legal requirements for reserves but also best serves our students.

Our district has millions of dollars in repairs that need to be made. We need to ask our community to approve a bond to do it. This requires the trust of the community that the board will guide decisions carefully and thoughtfully. I will assure the community that the bond money will well spent and that our students and ultimately our community of Castro Valley will benefit from the repairs and improvements.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. References to opponents are not permitted.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: July 23, 2015 14:55 PDT
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