Issue statements by candidates are quoted from public media statements either direct or edited for brevity.
The Covid-19 pandemic: virtual versus in-person attendance
Distance learning was implemented in crisis. For 10 years, I taught online and I know quality online teaching is possible. However, attempting to train teachers and implement an online system while students are learning is never ideal. I believe that Ojai Unified made the best choice in an incredibly difficult time. I watched firsthand teachers work day and night to learn systems, build curriculum, and give everything they could to their students. Teachers and administration truly stepped up to do what was best for our students in a time that was less than ideal. I believe we are only going to see online learning improve as the entire system better understands how to deliver materials online.
Equal opportunity and diversity
Best for kids, means all kids. Not just the students going to college, not just the overachieving kids, but the kids who need us the most. The kids that are from lower-income socioeconomic backgrounds, the kids who are learning to speak English, the kids who are first generation, and the kids who have special needs. I stand for all of them and I want to ensure they are continually supported and receive the resources they need to give them the opportunity and choice for the futures they want.
Management of loss of enrollment and revenue
I have brought millions of dollars to Oxnard Union and Ventura Unified school districts through grant writing. Ojai is facing a massive declining enrollment and is in dire straits financially. Using my years of experience in raising educational funding, I will ensure the district is exploring all possible avenues to bringing additional funds to OUSD. Future budget cuts should be addressed through stakeholder panels, never in isolation. Therefore, all stakeholders — parents, teachers, students, faculty and staff — should be consulted on the impacts of such cuts to decide which are least likely to impact student learning outcomes.
The entire state of California is in declining enrollment. The best way to stop this is to make compelling programs that attract students. This can be done by improving facilities through Measure K, creating flexible options for families, making connections to industry with Career Education programs, and working with our unique community to bring life into our classes. Ojai is an attractive place to be and if our schools were truly reflective of our community, we would attract more students to our schools and combat declining enrollment.
The state of California has little to no options for schools to improve facilities. This means if we want to fix our facilities, it is up to the community. Not only do teachers need better facilities to teach students 21st century skills, but students need better facilities to learn in. This would allow much-needed modernizations to make our school facilities competitive with the rest of the county.
Availability of digital and other new education technologies
I will ensure equity and access for all students to technology and high-speed internet. Due to school closures because of the pandemic, the digital divide has become the most pressing issue within education. Research shows that students from lower-income families and students of color are more likely to not have high-speed internet in their homes or access to devices and computers. Additionally, families must have the training and support to know how to use these devices correctly and support their children. During the COVID-19 pandemic, solving this crisis this is even more essential to ensure we are reaching all students. We must close the digital divide that exits in Ojai.
Relationship of the district to the teachers’ union
The teachers’ union is an essential partner in education. They must be involved in the decision-making process every step of the way. Teachers know students’ needs better than anyone. It is essential their voice is heard, and their opinions shape the direction of the district. With a massive teacher shortage in California, teachers have options. If they are unhappy and not well supported, they will leave. Administrators and the school board must work side-by-side with union leaders to make decisions that will impact classrooms. Happy supported teachers create happy supported students. This cannot be separated.
Do you support the lease of the district office property?
The district office is in the heart of downtown Ojai. It is also an incredibly old building that is in need of repairs, which the district cannot afford. With such limited space in downtown Ojai, it would be nice to see something in that location that would bring more business to downtown and a space for families to congregate. What actually goes into that location would depend on what types of investors wanted to use the space. I would ensure that it was a place that supported our community values and stimulated our local economy.
Is accountability of School District leadership to parents and community currently sufficient? Explain
The school board member’s role is to govern the superintendent by representing the community. Their duties consist of being responsive to the beliefs, values and priorities of the people of Ojai. I am a longtime resident of Ojai and an expert in education, my skills and understanding of the community will make me fully accountable.