October 8, 2008 > Local Election Coverage - Week 5
Local Election Coverage - Week 5
This week's election coverage is focused on the Hayward and Fremont Unified School Districts. Hayward's race has one contested seat, while Fremont's has three. Each candidate, listed in alphabetical order, was asked to respond to several questions about their qualifications. Incumbents (Inc.) are noted.
Hayward Unified School District (elect one):
Willie Lee Anderson
James P. Farley
Profession - I have been a manager in the transportation industry for the last 10 years.
Reason for running - I see some of the same problems exist today as when I was in school, and I have some concrete solutions to deal with these problems. One example is a communication issue that could be easily solved. Parents and teachers don't get called back (quite often) when leaving messages at the schools or district offices. I propose enacting a phone log that will notate time and date when calls came in and when those calls were returned. This would be audited by the Superintendent's Office and followed up on by the School Board. Currently the District only has an e-mail log but many people don't have access to computers.
Challenges - The main two challenges I see for the district are the budget and meeting the needs of all students. For the budget I would like to see parent - teacher committees work on budget issues with the school board all while adhering to the state issued mandates. Meeting the needs of all students will take more oversight from the parents, teachers and district.
Qualifications - My qualification to be on the school board are that I have served on a Parent-Teacher Committee at my daughters' school; I am a parent of two children; I've served on boards and commissions - State Disability Caucus, president, vice president, treasurer - Home Owners Association; and the County Central Committee. I also have managerial skills and run my own business.
Lawrence M. Fitzpatrick
Profession - I am a Professional Software Developer and have been since 1981. I have had my own business, here in Hayward, for the past 15 years. I provide custom applications for businesses.
Reason for running - I was asked to by teachers is the first part of the answer. The second part is that I have a very well-rounded background in education and business and that is coupled with the fact that I am the only person running for the 2-Year seat who has actually worked directly with the district administration on a number of successful solutions for teachers. I want to take the relationships that I have built and apply them to district-wide solutions. Since I am the HEA endorsed candidate and am also welcome in the district office, I feel that I am uniquely able to help change the adversarial culture that people perceive.
Challenges - The safety of our children and improving test scores are always at the top of the list. We are cash strapped because of the lack of state support at this time (I have been working on the Budget Advisory Task Force for the district and have seen the problems of budgeting firsthand) and we must find the ways to adequately support our classrooms. I also worked on the Measure I School Bond Committee for facilities upgrading and want to see that momentum maintained, since our buildings are badly in need of repair and replacement since almost all are over 50 years old. As alluded to above, we are also in need of the development of a more trusting and cooperative culture and I believe I can help facilitate that. Good communications is a start.
Qualifications - I am the son and grandson of public school educators and taught in a public school classroom myself for five years. I also worked with schizophrenic and emotionally disturbed children for four years. I served this community on the FESCO Board of Directors for five years. I have a bachelor's degree and have two complete and separate majors completed in education and computer science. I have worked as chair of the Community Involvement Committee for the Measure I Bond campaign and am on the district Budget Advisory Task Force. I served for three years as president of the Mt. Eden Choir Parent Boosters Group and led the parents in the battle to retain the block schedule. After 15 years of running my own business, I am acutely aware of how important fiscal responsibility and management is in an organization.
Profession - My current profession is full-time Parent/Homemaker. I have held various corporate administrative positions in the past. My most recent employment was as an Executive Assistant at the Corporate Headquarters of Mervyn's in Hayward. I worked for Mervyn's from October of 1994 through February of 2001. At that point I was able to stay home and focus on my family. My children and their education has taken a top priority for me over the last eight years.
Reason for running - The main motivation for my candidacy is the children. As a parent, I want what is best for our children and if I can improve any of the educational opportunities in their lives, it is my responsibility and privilege. It seems that in recent years we have lost our connection with the Administration and Board, resulting in a lack of trust and faith in the Hayward School System. I believe I have the passion to provide the commitment we deserve from our leaders. It is my goal to provide all students in Hayward with an opportunity to receive the best education possible and to reach out to all learning styles and achievement levels.
Challenges - There are many challenges that lay ahead for HUSD. I see the main challenge to be building back the connections. I am confident that by establishing strong connections with the families, teachers, administration and community we can rebuild the trust and faith in the Hayward Schools. One big step in making connections is establishing stability. We must stop the revolving door effect currently taking place in our schools; Effective and reliable communication is another connection I would prioritize; and another connection I would like to focus on is that between our schools and the community. Hayward is full of untapped resources - musicians, scientists, authors, artists, etc. - many of these people may not have children in the schools, yet they would be happy to share their knowledge and experiences. I think it is time that we take the time to learn from our community, not just ask them for their vote.
Qualifications - I am new to politics and can offer a fresh and optimistic approach to the challenges that lay ahead. For many years I held a position as an Executive Assistant. I possess outstanding organization skills and an eye for detail. I have strong team building and communication skills. I believe in making decisions after I have done my homework and researched all possible options. I have a vested interest in Hayward. I have a direct link to our schools as an involved parent and, as a long-time home owner, I have an interest in making Hayward a better place. My involvement in the education of my children has provided me with a perspective and insight that I believe will benefit the entire District. I have the energy and the drive to work hard for our community. I am a good listener and want to hear what the community is saying.
Sheila R. Sims
Profession - I am a retired special education teacher. I have been working in the field for the past twenty years. I have worked as an instructional assistant in the reading and math lab at Chabot College. After raising my children, I went back to school to earn an AA degree from Chabot College; a BS degree and a teaching certificate in physical education, and adapted physical education from CSUH (East Bay); a teaching certificate in special education (severely handicapped) and a certificate in early childhood education for disabled infants and toddlers from San Jose State University. I have course work in accounting and experience as a business owner.
Reason for running - I am running for this office because I have excellent experience and a passion for kids and education. I want to be a catalyst for the change I want to see. I want to promote a healthy, safe, secure learning environments; promote academic success; promote trust and respect; decrease the drop-out rate; ensure a fiscally responsible budget; truancy and encourage culturally relevant ways to connect with kids.
Challenges - The challenges to the district are healthy safe and secure learning environments; academic success; trust and respect; a fiscally responsible budget; culturally relevant way to connect with kids; the high truancy rate. I am a team player and it will take a team to bring the district up to community expectations.
Qualifications - I am a retired educator who has the experience teaming with parents, teachers, students and other professional educators to promote the success of all students. I have teamed with parents, students, principals, administrators, psychologist, counselors, nurses and others to promote success for all students. Education is the pathway to success. A vote for me is a vote for success.
Fremont Unified School District (elect three):
Profession - I am a Financial & Insurance Advisor for MassMutual Financial Group, Fremont Office.
Reason for running - I am running for the School Board because of my passion for education, my belief that education is the key to individual and community success and my commitment to serving and giving back to my community.
Challenges - The specific issues that have motivated me to run are: fiscal responsibility: With looming budget cuts, it will be imperative for the board to support solutions that accomplish fiscal goals while simultaneously maintaining instructional and academic excellence; the dropout rate: Currently, 6.7% of Fremont's students do not complete high school, which places us the fourth highest in dropouts in the county; and student achievement: The key to our district's exemplary academic achievement has been our ability to recognize the talent of our diverse community. To maintain our impressive academic success, our schools must continue to realize the full potential of every individual student, whether a student performs above grade level, below or some place in the middle.
Qualifications - I am a 2007 graduate of the Emerge program, a political leadership training program for San Francisco Bay area women; manage a local business as an experienced financial advisor with a business management degree; member of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce; managed 4 sons through Fremont schools where I was a PTA member; regularly participated in School Board meetings; current member of the Board of the Fremont Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises funds to provide education enrichment for local students and teachers; Commissioner for the Alameda County Commission on the Status of Women, where I serve as Chair of the Gender Racial and Equity Committee; a committee that works with an array of local and county organizations; a board member of Fremont's Family Resource Center (FRC), Community Engagement and Advisory Board, a City department that provides many services, such as workshops, support groups, and career and job search resources to individuals and families; and a member of the League of Women Voters.
Profession - I am the parent of four children the oldest of whom is 18. I am also a community volunteer. I have been volunteering my time in Fremont schools for the past 12 years.
Reason for running - As a volunteer in our schools, on district committees and with local children's non-profits I have found that there is a limited amount that you can accomplish. Every day I see things in our school district which need addressing. I am hoping that I can do more for our students from a seat on the school board.
Challenges - Improving communication is a serious challenge which affects every aspect of education in Fremont. Whether it is communication with parents or with the city of Fremont we need to be doing better. I believe I have ideas on how to create the solutions which will work.
Hiring a new superintendent in Fremont will be very important. We need to make sure we choose the right person to create some stability in the district. I have been on Principal selection committees and feel I know what we should be looking for and hope to be part of that process.
Budget constraints will be an on-going problem that our board must address. We need to make the right choices on where to cut without affecting the programs our students depend upon. I have been on school site council and have struggled to help put together budgets to specifically target pupil achievement. I believe I have the knowledge to offer useful input.
Qualifications - At the district level: Community Facilities Committee; Commission on Instructional Equity; Family Life Committee; and Parent Representative Advisory Assembly. At our Schools: School Site Council; staff appreciation coordinator; music docent; Fine Arts Mini Experience docent; classroom parent coordinator; school Yahoo Group creator and moderator; and People Respecting Individuality and Diversity in Education (PRIDE) participant. In the Community: Fremont Education Foundation Board; Girl Scout leader; StarStruck Youth Theatre Board; Music for Minors II Board; Celebrate Fremont Education Committee; and League of Women Voters Fremont Newark Union City Education Committee.
Profession - I am currently an engineering director in the software industry where I have worked for the past 13 years.
Reason for running - Over the past 17 years, through my efforts on the school board and in the community I have made a difference in the lives of Fremont students. As a recent board appointee, I helped build the current district leadership team and pushed to get district-wide goals adopted. I am anxious to continue the work I began.
Challenges - I believe the biggest challenges facing the district are to enable all students to reach their full potential, utilize funds wisely and ensure safe schools. Teachers and parents are the foundation of great schools, and through their work our students will reach their full potential. Training and teamwork are crucial to successful teaching, and our teachers need the best support and tools. I will support efforts to reach and involve more parents from other cultures, encourage more parent education forums, and propose a yearly parent survey. Our spending must match our priorities, and the school board must hold the district accountable. Just as we measure the work of our students, we must measure the work of every employee. Every Fremont school must be safe from violence, discrimination and bullying, and a well-maintained place to learn. We need to train our students, staff, and parents how you deal with bullying, and the district and the city must work together for safe schools.
Qualifications - I am a longtime Fremont resident, a graduate of Fremont's public schools, a management professional and a parent. My experience on the Fremont School Board, as a student member and as an appointed trustee, coupled with my professional experience as a director of engineering, has taught me to build successful organizations through teamwork and accountability. For 17 years, I have made a difference by serving on many community partnerships including the Instructional Equity Commission, the Financial Advisory Committee, the Technology Advisory Group, the Community Facilities Committee and a successful school bond campaign. I am proud to have earned broad community support including endorsements from the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association and the Fremont Police Association.
Profession - I am currently the executive director of the Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement (AGMA), a high-technology nonprofit trade association committed to addressing the global impact of the gray market and counterfeiting of goods in the technology industry.
Reason for running - Key to my original motivation is the issue of school overcrowding. As a parent of a child who was part of the overload process, the anxiety of waiting to hear where my child would be placed and listening to the frustration and concerns of fellow families in the community made me want to better understand the student housing issue in our district. I see the Board as being a critical facilitator in ensuring that the voice of the parents and community are heard during the fact-finding and decision-making processes to implement the best practices applicable for our school district.
Challenges - The challenges I see facing Fremont Unified School District are: fair funding for Fremont; solutions to overcrowding; and providing a safe, quality education for all students. For fair funding, I will work to effectively approve the budget process and help express the critical need for approval of sufficient funding in a timely manner. This will better enable the school district to fund the needs of the teachers, students, worker groups and educational community. In regard to overcrowding, it has been a persistent problem for our city as we have grown and will continue to grow, but the infrastructure and related finances have not always been aligned. I understand the need for growth for a healthy city economy, but we must have responsible planning to proactively address the impact growth has on our educational systems. This includes establishing a working committee with the city to have more cooperative planning. I would also recommend consideration of raising a bond to address both new developments and aging facilities. Finally, I want to encourage student achievement and success by providing students and staff with tools needed. To help address the achievement gaps with the diverse ethnic backgrounds, schools need to provide the resources and support programs to encourage students who are not meeting the standards.
Qualifications - As the Fremont Council PTA liaison, I foster communication between all Fremont school PTAs and the School Board. I am currently also a School Site Council member. Previously, on the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) Ad Hoc Budget Task Force Committee, I fought to establish developer fees comparable with surrounding communities to address the increasing student population. With the Fremont Education Coalition, I raised budget concerns in Sacramento, and have represented parents' concerns while on the FUSD Pupil Overload Task Force. At the school level, I have served as PTA president (two years), fundraising chair and membership chair. I also embrace Fremont's many diverse recreational and civic efforts and have been a volunteer and leader in supporting local scouting and sports programs such as soccer, Little League and swim team. I am also a member of Citizens for Better Community and American Association of University Women.
Ivy Wu (Inc.)
Profession - I have been serving on the FUSD Board since 2004 and I am currently the Board president. I am also the business executive director of Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN), a non-profit 501(c)3 organization serving many special needs children and families in Fremont and the Greater Bay Area.
Reason for running - I would like to continue my service to Fremont students, families, and schools by providing stability and continuity of quality as well as innovative education. With my understanding of the diverse needs and cultures in Fremont, I will seek to effectively inform and include the community in discussion of important issues to develop innovative and viable solutions. We do have a very strong team among our district staff and we have great collaboration with our employment groups. There are many strategies and plans that need to be improved and implemented. By staying on the Board, I will continue to serve as a bridge to bring the school district and the community together, so that we can make these plans work for the best of our students.
Challenges - The three major challenges that we are facing are budget, student achievement and student housing. In addition to these three, there are other challenges like personnel changes, safe school, facilities, etc. Having been serving on the Board for four years and working with the Board, staff and district committees on all these important issues, I know that we have some good strategies in place and we are constantly looking to sharpen our strategies and develop more viable plans. We just need to know how to get all stakeholders to team up with us to overcome these challenges, and therefore I would suggest that we adopt what I call the "3 I's on Education" approach to face our challenges: innovation, information and inclusion.
Qualifications - I have been serving on the Board for four years; I have a BA from UC Berkeley, a law degree (JD) from University of San Francisco, and I am licensed to practice law in California; I have been a resident of Fremont for 22 years; I have two great children - one attending UC Berkeley, and one still a junior in high school; I have a bicultural background which allows me to understand the diverse cultural needs and expectations of many in our school district; I am Board representative to Mission Valley Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) and also the business executive director for a nonprofit organization serving special needs children in Fremont; and I have worked 15 and a half years in developing a very successful family business overseeing manufacturing facilities overseas. I understand how to build a team and make quality product with high efficiency rate at competitive cost.