October 1, 2008 > Local Election Coverage - Week 4
Local Election Coverage - Week 4
This week's election coverage is focused on the Castro Valley, San Leandro unified school districts. Castro Valley and San Lorenzo have three contested seats, while both San Leandro races have one seat open. Each candidate, listed in alphabetical order, was asked to respond to several questions about their qualifications. Incumbents (Inc.) are noted.
Castro Valley Unified School District (elect three):
John J. Barbieri (Inc.)
Profession - For over 30 years, I have worked in the financial field. Currently, I work as a consultant for small banks, savings and loans, and credit unions. My role is to assist with federal compliance in lending, accounting, community re-investment, and I also work with the Boards of Directors of those institutions on their performance of their regulatory obligation.
Reason for running - I am seeking re-election to the school board in order to continue the district on the path that was paved many years ago, which is quality education for children; and I hope to be able to continue to keep the district in a fiscally sound state.
Challenges - The most prominent challenge will be to continue the fiscal stability that has been established in order to continue the current student programs despite state budget cuts.
Qualifications - I am a current CVUSD school board member. In addition, I have worked in the financial field for over 30 years. I have a lifetime teaching credential from the State of California, which allowed me to teach at Chabot College for 14 years in the fields of math, economics and management. Previous to becoming a school board member I was a member of the CVUSD Personnel Commission (governing non-teaching personnel) for 24 years. During that time I served as the state president of the State Personnel Commission. I have been part of the SELPA board for Special Education for eight years. I have also completed over 50 hours of School Board Governess Education and have met numerous times with state legislators on matters of education and state funding for education.
Jo Loss (Inc.)
Profession - I am a professional volunteer for the California State PTA and have been involved in PTA for 21 years.
Reason for running - To continue to make contributions to Castro Valley School District.
Challenges - One of our future challenges will be to continue our upward momentum in all test scores; and we need to continue to be active and vocal in obtaining a stable funding stream from the state for educating Castro Valley's children.
Qualifications - I have been involved at the site level and was president of Peralta District PTA which covers Alameda County; I have served on the state level for nine years during which time I was the Special Projects Chairman, a Leadership Services Commissioner, Vice President for Education, Vice President for Leadership Services and am currently President-Elect for the California State PTA; I served on the HARD Castro Valley Ad Hoc Advisory Committee for the last year; I have served on the Alameda County School Boards Association as President, Vice President and Secretary/Treasurer.
Kunio Okui (Inc.)
Profession - I am a Certified Public Accountant (27 years), Certified Financial Planner (23 years), Registered Representative (25 years), Registered Principal (20 years) and Registered Investment Advisor (25 years).
Reason for running - I am seeking re-election, because my family and I have a strong commitment to public education. I've lived in Castro Valley for 33 years. Patti, my wife of 35 years, is a third-grade teacher at Dayton School in the San Lorenzo Unified School District. My three children, Jason, Jared and Akemi, were all educated in the Castro Valley Unified School District and graduated from Castro Valley High School. Jason graduated from California State University East Bay; Jared and Akemi graduated from University of California, Davis. Akemi is a first-grade teacher at Castro Valley Elementary. My grandson, Evan, is a kindergartner at Castro Valley Elementary. My older brother is a retired high school teacher and his wife is a retired junior high school teacher.
Challenges - Because of limited funding from the state, the District will be in deficit spending over the next two years. This is possible because the board set aside additional reserves to meet unplanned financial problems. The challenge for me is to continue to be a wise financial steward of the district's financial resources; It is imperative the District continue maintain its excellent academic success. The challenge is to monitor the subgroups to ensure that they continue to perform well.
Qualifications - I have been a school board member for 17 years earning the Masters in Governance and the Masters in Boardmanship designations from the California School Board Association. During my tenure, the community has passed three bond elections which funded the high school stadium and science building, the Center for the Arts, Creekside Middle School gym, elementary science centers, and seismic and security upgrades. Our bond credit rating is A+, which lowered the interest rate for Castro Valley homeowners and thereby reduced their property taxes.As a career accountant, I am able to analyze and make excellent decisions to keep the District in a strong financial position.
Profession - My profession is Education and I have worked professionally in education for over thirty years. I am currently the principal of a Religious School on Pleasanton.
Reason for running - I am concerned with the priorities the current school board set as they spent the money form the last bond measure. The majority went to large flashy projects and they ignored the need for seismic retrofits of older school buildings, the need for cooling systems for classrooms with daily temperature over 90 degrees, and other smaller projects which impact students health and safety but are less visible to the public. I am concerned that with their long tenure together the current board is no longer receptive to public issues and concerns. I want to help create a school board that works in partnership with teachers, parents, and community members, listening and addressing their concerns.
Challenges - It is difficult to find experienced and qualified teachers, especially math and science teachers for our Middle School and High School programs. The High School has expanded its college preparatory Math and Chemistry classes encouraging the majority of students to enroll in these classes, making it even more of a challenge; Setting teacher salaries that keep pace with inflation, maintaining current programs and services and meeting the new financial strains on the budget will be a challenge. The long term expectations of no child left behind places unrealistic demands on our classrooms. Castro Valley will need to resist the temptation teach to the test in order look good on paper, and encourage sound flexibility and sound educational policy in the classroom. We also need to work closely with our elementary school youth.
Qualifications - My credentials include a BA and MA in education with concentrations in curriculum and administration, as well as a MA in Hebraic Studies. I have held a variety of positions within the field of education, including: classroom teacher; junior college instructor; and parent and family education leader. From my experience, I have a clear of how board decisions impact our teachers and students. On a smaller scale I have dealt with, recruitment, staff development, salary negotiations, school budgets, students with special needs, school safely, and personal concerns. Attending meeting as helping to update the Castro Valley general plan, working on the Alameda county livability initiative to help to bring needed services to our unincorporated communities, and serving on the HARD citizens advisory committee. I have been an active volunteer in my children's classrooms, served on PTA committees and the High School PTSA board.
San Leandro Unified School District - Extended (elect one):
Profession - I have been a Doctor of Chiropractic for 25 years.
Reason for running - To change the course of action being taken, as well as the direction in which the San Leandro Unified School District is headed.
Challenges - To stop the Social Engineering indoctrination of children and to give them a real and true education to achieve their greatest possible intellectual development.
Qualifications - I am a concerned citizen who understands the harm and threat to our children which the current educational system produces and how to solve that problem.
Profession - I am currently a stay-at home mom and have been since my first daughter was born in 2001. This has allowed me to become very active in our schools both at the school site level and the District level. Prior to 2001 I was a grant writer for nonprofits.
Reason for running - I believe I can make a positive difference in our schools not only for my daughters who are or will be enrolled in San Leandro public schools, but for everyone's children.
Challenges - Improving teacher retention and morale; early intervention and parental education to increase student achievement and reduce the drop out rate; and having a long range plan for meeting the educational facility needs for our growing community especially as it relates to the Transit Oriented Development plan.
Qualifications - I have been involved with San Leandro schools for four years now, before my daughter was even enrolled in kindergarten; I was an active member on the Measure B bond campaign committee, attending all public meetings and coordinating the phone banks; I have served on the Parent Leaders' Council and currently serve on the Budget Advisory Committee; and I have been an active parent at Washington Elementary serving as PTA president and conceiving and organizing their Kids Save the Planet environmental festival. I was also a founding member of San Leandro Community Action Network and its Quality Schools committee.
San Leandro Unified School District - Area 1 (elect one):
Hermy B. Almonte
Profession - I am a property manager working with a non-profit housing developer for almost 19 years.
Reason for running - I am running for School Board to bring "Positive Change and Restore Trusts in our Schools"
Challenges - Ineffective leadership of the school board and school district resulted high legal bills of $833,000 last year, the morale of teachers and support staff reached an all time low and gained 90% no confidence vote by teachers to the current superintendent.
We need a school board that values and encourages parent participation, respect teachers and support staff, and will unite the community in support of our schools.
Qualifications - I am an active parent and supporter of our school. Currently, I am the president of English Learner's Advisory Committee and previously a member of the School Site Council. I am the e-Scrip Coordinator for United Parents of San Leandro High School. I have a son who is a junior in San Leandro High School and my daughter graduated from San Leandro High School in June. I am a graduate of Alameda County Leadership Academy and was appointed in 2006 to the Consumer Affairs Commission of Alameda County.
Thomas Richards (Inc.)
Profession - I have worked for Wells Fargo Bank for 30 years and I am currently a Risk & Compliance Consultant for the bank.
Reason for running - I am running for re-election to continue the work that we have started. Working together, we must continue to: reduce & control expenses, while enhancing revenues, so we can hire and retain quality teachers & staff; ensure that any potential cuts or reductions are kept away from the classroom; improve the communications with parents, teachers, staff community; modernize, improve and add new school facilities to reduce our overcrowding issues; narrow the achievement gap; maintain a safe, clean and positive learning and working environment; and enrich the learning experiences of our students with more college and career pathway opportunities.
Challenges - The biggest challenges for the district are improving the facilities - the district is coming into an important and crucial stage in our modernization and new construction projects; fiscal accountability - with limited funding sources for schools that are outside of the local, state & federal funding streams that we receive we need to think 'outside the box' to find ways to help generate additional revenues and ways to reduce the districts expenditures; and academic achievements - ensuring the academic success and achievement of ALL of our students is the most important duty that a school board member is entrusted with.
Qualifications - During my tenure on the board, I have been able to bring my banking and auditing background to benefit the students and district. I am on the board Finance Committee and have chaired the committee for the last seven years. By doing so, I have seen first hand and have worked closely with staff in developing & reviewing budget. I have been able help to identify and recommended ways for the district to reduce their expenditures. I am working hard to make sure that your taxes dollars are being spent wisely and for the overall benefit of students.
San Lorenzo Unified School District - At large (elect three):
Profession - Businessman with over 50 years of experience.
Reason for running - To maintain our local constitutional electioneering systems.
Challenges - To change the following within the City Chamber: deletion of the wording relating to limitation on term of mayor; the addition of New Article II Section 285 making mayor or council member ineligible to seek another elected office prior to or before vacating his or her present seat; the boundaries of the districts to become at large; and deletion of all relevant City Chamber article sections to properly amen to lawfully elect at-large based on a vote simple majority election and maintain the plurality voters calculation requirements; overall, to defend the elector/voter's nonpartisan local level election process.
Qualifications - Not provided
Norman Fobert (Inc.)
Helen Foster (Inc.)
Profession - I am a middle school principal in the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District; and have been a school administrator since 2000.
Reason for running - I am an incumbent to the position of trustee on the San Lorenzo Unified School District school board. Because of my training and professional background, I bring a great deal of experience to the position which requires us to decide policy for the school district.
Challenges - San Lorenzo Unified is in program improvement status because of the achievement gap between the white and Asian student population and the African-American and Hispanic-Latino population. The biggest challenge for the district is closing the achievement gap.
Qualifications - I have a B.A. from University of Michigan in speech and drama; a B.S. from Eastern Michigan University in chemistry; a MSPH from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in environmental engineering; a Masters of educational administration from St. Mary's College in Moraga; and I have completed all coursework and am writing my doctoral dissertation for and Ed.D. in educational administration from St. Mary's College in Moraga. I have also completed my CBO (Chief Business Official) certification which qualifies me to assume the position of CBO, Chief Financial Officer or Deputy Assistant Superintendent of a school district. Finally I have many years experience as a teacher and school administrator.
Gene Judson (Inc.)
Profession - I have worked in different fields and have owned my own business, but my longest stint was working as an assistant financial analyst at IBM Global Services earlier this decade. After being elected in 2004, I served as a guest teacher in the San Leandro School District in 2006-07.
Reason for running - I have been interested in how school districts choose courses of action after school closings, including my alma mater, Marina High School (sold to housing developers), due to declining enrollment in the 1980's. Soon thereafter enrollment increased and the remaining schools became overcrowded. I feel decisions should be student-driven and with two children attending schools in the district and two others who have since graduated - I have that perspective.
Challenges - Students who have low self-esteem caused by poor study habits or conditions beyond their control must be motivated to believe they can achieve. This is an essential component to increase both skills and scores. We must also work to pass "Measure O" for the "Opportunity" to continue upgrading our aging facilities which have begun to see improvements with the passage of "Measure E."
Qualifications - I grew up in the Washington Manor area of San Leandro and attended, along with my four brothers, San Lorenzo Unified schools: Lewelling, Washington Manor and Marina High. I graduated from Chabot College as a returning adult and transferred to Cal-State Hayward, earning a BS in Business Administration with a minor in Economics. I have served as a school site representative, various district committees, scout leader and youth sports coach.
Profession - Retired
Reason for running - Because I believe I can help provide quality education and safe schools to all students.
Challenges - Under funding, low test scores, and changing demographics.
Qualifications - I've worked in the schools for 16 years, have attended all school board meetings for the past six years, and have participated on several district committees. I am familiar with the day-to-day operations of the school district and believe that knowledge and experience will help me become an effective board member. I served 21 years on the San Lorenzo Village Homes Association Board, was active in Little League for 27 years, and am currently a member of Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker's San Lorenzo Health Initiative, the San Lorenzo-Ashland-Cherryland Youth Collaborative, and the Sheriff's Advisory committees.