Linda Menges On the Issues
Issue statements by candidates are quoted from public media statements either direct or edited for brevity.
Given the problem of the COVID-19 pandemic, how should district schools balance virtual and physical instruction during the upcoming school year to best meet the educational needs of students and the health interests of the children, their families, and the faculty and staff at each school?
I believe that children learn best in a classroom with a professional educator. However, at this time there are reasons that students need to learn virtually. As such I support what Las Virgenes has developed. Families had a choice of one of two tracks. One is called Virtual Academy. That track will have the student learning from home over the internet for the entire school year with an option of transferring to our on-campus model at semester (secondary level) or trimester (elementary level) breaks. The second track is the Districts on campus model. Unfortunately the on campus model will need to start learning remotely until the District meets the protocols that allow for a safe return to school for our teachers as well as students. LVUSD has issued devices to all of our students to allow for remote learning to be successful. We have even provided hot spots to those students that are not able to return to school, but we continue to reach out to our families and our faculty to keep everyone informed and supported during this unprecedented time.
What are the necessary conditions under which a full reopening of district schools could take place, if at all, prior to availability of a reliable coronavirus vaccine?
First and foremost L.A. and Ventura County would need to be off of the watch list for rising coronavirus infections. Safety protocols would need to be approved by the CDC and the Department of Health. These safety protocols would need to be followed. Social distancing would need to be maintained. The classes would be divided in two to keep the class size smaller. Every effort will be made to minimize the contact exposure.
What, if any, remedies to systemic racism would you help the Las Virgenes School District implement as a member of its Board of Education?
First, I believe that education can help change hearts and minds. I along with over 100 other educators and faculty and board members am enrolled in a course using Glenn Singleton’s book, “Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools”. It has been a very enlightening course that has helped to give educators tools to begin the dialogues needed to remedy systemic racism. I am listening to the community, our school district is reaching out to students of color and their families to begin the dialogue with them on helping to change approaches in education. The board is looking at restorative practices and using them to help develop equity in education.
Why are you running for re-election to the Las Virgenes Board of Education?
I am running for re-election for the same reason I was elected five years ago. I am committed to preserving and improving our ranking as a high-achieving school district. I am thrilled to work with our excellent teachers and am proud of the past five years I have spent on the board. I would like to continue my work in shaping and steering the direction of LVUSD during theses unprecedented times. I am a great listener, a deep thinker and a level headed voice when representing LVUSD. Being able to work collaboratively with teachers and all stakeholders to find common ground where we can keep improving the Educational Opportunities for our students and the work environment for all LVUSD employees is very important to me.
Have you previously held public office? If yes please provide a list with dates.
I was elected to the Las Virgenes USD Governing Board on November 3, 2015 and sworn in on December 8, 2015.
Please list key published articles/books if applicable (include links where possible).
Please list and describe any pro bono or community service work, including name(s) of organization(s).
I was very involved for over fifteen years in the schools that my children attended and was a member of the PFC’s at the Elementary, Middle and High School Levels. I served on the executive board at all levels as either Treasurer or President. I was involved as a volunteer in classrooms and with special programs at the school including fundraisers and booster clubs.
Name up to three ways that you will contribute to improving Las Virgenes' schools.
I plan to work collaboratively with the board to implement programs and protocols that will improve our D/F rate, those students that are not passing courses. I support Professional Development for our faculty to help with new course adoptions and best practices on our campuses. I plan to listen to students and support dissolving systemic racism on our campuses.
Name the three most important current public issues (aside from the coronavirus pandemic) that the Las Virgenes School District currently faces, or that you expect it to face during the course of your term in office.
We are faced with significant financial loss. We are in declining enrollment which affects our funding. The economy was shut down and has affected funding from the state to our schools. Due to the funding formula for Las Virgenes Unified School District under the state Department of Education’s Local Control and Accountability Plan, we sit in the lowest 10% of funding in the State. That requires Las Virgenes USD to look for partnership with our cities, our foundation, our parents and the community. In addition, we look for the availability of grants to fund programs and continue to advocate on behalf of our students regarding state and federal funding. We continue to work on equity issues for our students and worry about learning loss as students have been in an unconventional learning environment for several months. Systemic racism and racial diversity are also issues that will be addressed during the next few years of this governing body.
Do you plan to run for higher office in the future?
No. I am committed to staying involved at the local level and working to keep our schools as top performing high achieving as possible.
Please list candidates you have endorsed publicly, if any.
Kelly Honig, Westlake Village City Council; Alicia Weintraub, Calabasas City Council; Peter Kraut, Calabasas City Council; and Illece Buckley-Weber, Agoura Hills City Council.
Please list candidates and organizations that have endorsed you, if any.
All of the current LVUSD Board Members endorse me: Angela Cutbill, Dallas Lawrence, Lesli Stein, and Mathy Wasserman. All of the City of Westlake Village City Council Members endorse me: Ned Davis, Brad Halpern, Kelly Honig, Sue McSweeney and Ray Pearl. City of Agoura Hills City Council Members that endorse me are: Chris Anstead, Illece Buckley-Weber and Denis Weber. City of Calabasas City Council Members that endorse me are James Bozajian, Fred Gaines, David Shapiro and Alicia Weintraub. Other endorsers are: Glen Peterson, Lynda Lo-Hill, Laura Ainsworth, Tami Miller, Pat Schulz, Charlotte Meyer, Dave Moorman and Penny Sylvester.