October 15, 2008 > Local Election Coverage - Week 6
Local Election Coverage - Week 6
This week's election coverage is focused on the Hayward and Milpitas unified school districts. Hayward's race has 10 candidates vying for three seats; In Milpitas, two seats are open for three candidates. 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 three):
Profession - I am a railroad signal maintainer for the last 42 years. It is my responsibility to ensure that trains can travel, and the public can drive, across the railroad tracks safely. To perform my job effectively, I must pay acute attention to detail. Also I have been the shop steward for my union Local for the past 20 years.
Reason for running - I am running for this office to continue the progress HUSD and the city of Hayward have embarked upon with the recent passage of Measure I. I will foster partnerships needed to improve the district and the city that attracts new families and businesses while keeping those that are here now. As a parent with children in Hayward public schools, I want the opportunity to be the eyes, ears and voice for all. As a 50-year resident of Hayward, I want to be a part of the change that will make our city a place of pride.
Challenges - Perhaps the greatest challenge facing the district is financial strength. The great citizens of Hayward stepped up to the plate in June and invested in the district's infra-structure with the passage of Measure I. Our next challenge is to prove to the citizens they made the right choice and give them what we promised. That will build trust between the community and the district which we need to secure financial stability and future bond measures. By building energy efficient, environmentally friendly schools, classrooms with optimum indoor air quality, and cleaning stations will help improve the average daily attendance. Staying on budget, keeping and attracting new students, and increasing average daily attendance are opportunities to secure financial strength.
Qualifications - The school board is the steward for the district. I have been a steward for over 20 years. I know how to communicate effectively. I am a member of the East Avenue School Site Council, and a member of the Bret Harte Parent Task Force. I am the treasurer of my union Local, Bret Harte PTA, Bret Harte Band Booster Club and the past treasurer of Castro Valley Independent Baseball League. I have worked on the HUSD Budget Advisory Committee. These experiences have given me a solid foundation for understanding and implementing sound financial accountability. As a parent with children attending HUSD schools and as a longtime Hayward home owner I have a vested interest in the direction our district is moving. I am honest, respectful and committed to work tirelessly for all the partners of Hayward Unified school District.
Jeff Cook (Inc.)
Profession - I am a Manager, Employment Law, of the General Counsel's office of a Fortune 400 company. I have been in the legal and HR field for 20 years, and prior to that was a police officer.
Reason for running - I did not intent to run for re-election frankly, but because of the state fiscal crises, which has put HUSD in another budget crisis, I have been asked by community leaders to serve again so that the progress we have made in the last five years continues.
Challenges - We are now facing another $17 million shortfall in the next two years, thanks to the erratic and belated state budget. I want to make sure that we minimize the negative impact to students of the budget cuts that must be made. These tough decisions will have to be made in the next two to three critical months, immediately before and after the election. It would not be beneficial to have four new inexperienced board members thrown in the midst of this without a few of us incumbents returning with the history, experience and courage it will take to weather this difficult time.
Qualifications - I raised three children through HUSD, my father was a local school teacher and well as my sister and son who taught in HUSD. I currently have a son who is a Para educator in HUSD. My wife and I have been active volunteers in the district for over 20 years. I lead the community effort six years ago to force the termination of then Superintendent Joan Kowal and the replacement of the entire senior administrative staff. I am the only board member with real-world business and fiscal experience, and was able to contribute significantly in taking us into fiscal solvency from facing an $18 million budget shortfall five years ago. For five years I pushed for the first successful school bond in 45 years in Hayward, and I want to make sure that the funds accomplish what we promised the community.
Sarah Gonzales (Inc.)
Profession - I am a retired professor from CSU East Bay, where I worked for 10 years. I retired June 2006. Prior to that, I was a teacher and administrator for 23 year in three different school districts in California.
Reason for running - I am running for board to continue to improve the district. When I was first elected, the district was $18 million dollars in the red. The district had been assigned fiscal advisors under AB 1200 by the Alameda County Superintendent of Schools. The district now has the required reserves and was able to weather this year's legislative budget impasse. The districts test scores continue to improve. We now have six schools that are at the brink of reaching 800 on the state's Academic Performance Index. In 2003, we had no schools even close to that API score. The Hayward community overwhelmingly passed Measure I, a construction bond to rebuild or refurbish 5 schools in the district. I want to continue to lead in the quest to improve the Hayward Unified School District.
Challenges - We will need to make some difficult decisions to balance our budget. The community has made it clear that they want the cuts as far away from the classroom as possible. We also need to work to improve relationships with our employee groups, particularly the teachers' union to continue the healing process from the 2007 strike.
Qualifications - I have been active in community service since I arrived in Hayward in 1995. I was a teacher and administrator in public schools for 23 years. I have served as a volunteer in a number of nonprofit groups that focus on improving the quality of life in Hayward. In education, I hold a doctorate of education in administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University; and a bachelor's and master's degree from San Diego State University. For experience, I have been on the Hayward Unified School District Board of Trustees for five years; associate professor of Educational Leadership, CSU Hayward, retired; California school administrator for 16 years; and California classroom teacher for seven years. I have service in the Board of Directors for both the St. Rose Hospital Foundation and Starr King Unitarian Universalist Church; a member of the Hayward Rotary (rotary); and a volunteer at the South Hayward Parish.
Profession - I have been a paralegal for three years and I have also served as a substitute teacher, beginning this semester.
Reason for running - The current administration has failed our children. I not only want to make a difference, but I know that I can make a difference. We need to do better for our children. Today's children are tomorrow's workforce, tax base and fellow citizens. At HUSD only 33 percent of the students are prepared to enter into a UC/CSU when they graduate from High School. More than 50% of HUSD students are far below basic in math and language arts. Our district is now in Program Improvement Status Year 3. We must turn this Hayward District around so that all our students are prepared for the challenges ahead and can compete in this global economy.
Challenges - There is a lack of parental and community involvement in our schools, therefore there is a lack of support for the district; there is still resentment from the 10-day teacher strike and we need to improve our image to the community; we are under budget restraints, therefore we must prioritize funding and ensure that our students are served so that they are successful academically; with the school closures our students are in severely overcrowded schools and classrooms. I am a substitute teacher in Oakland. I teach 20 students and it is challenging, especially if in those 20 there is a special needs child, a challenging student and English learners. Our classes in Hayward have more than 30 students. It is impossible for children to learn and teachers to teach effectively in overcrowded classrooms. We do not have enough staff to serve our students properly. Due to overcrowded schools we have three lunches, students spend 10 minutes in a lunch line and eat in less than five minutes because the next group is been herded in.
Qualifications - I am a substitute teacher; a paralegal; and most importantly a parent of two children - one is at Oakland Unified, and a second grader at East Ave. in HUSD. I graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in psychology; I received my paralegal certificate from Chabot Community College. I have done extensive research on education. I am a parent advocate; because of my advocacy work I was featured in an article written by New Media. Public Advocates, co-lead council on Williams Act, also invited me to co-present at the California Association for Bilingual Education; last year I also was one of two parents invited to a forum to discuss "Keys to Effective Schools," by the National Education Association, which represents more than three million teachers in the United States. I am ready to use my knowledge to improve the quality of education in Hayward.
Profession - I work at Fremont Bank as the director of small-business lending where I have been employed for 11 years. While working at Fremont Bank I have worked in many capacities and have a wealth of knowledge about banking and finance. I have been in banking for over 35 years and in supervision and management for more than 30years.
Reason for running - I have a vested interest in running for this office that go beyond the fact that I have expertise in areas that would be beneficial to the Board of Trustees. I am a graduate of the Hayward Public School system and I am raising a grandchild who attends elementary school in Hayward. My husband and I have learned through our personal journey that there are many children who are not being raised in traditional homes and our challenges are unique and different. I know what it's like to have to navigate through the system to get the resources needed to ensure that my grandchild gets the best education possible. Concerned parents feel that they've have gotten lost in this black hole when seeking help from the district. This has to improve; we all need to work together so our children can achieve academic success. We should applaud those parents who are concerned and listen to what they have to say so we can successfully resolve those concerns and create a win-win situation for everyone.
Challenges - The Hayward Unified School District has a major issue with declining enrollment. Parents are taking their children out of the district and enrolling them in private schools or transferring them to other districts, or taking more drastic action by moving to another school district. When this occurs, we all lose. The district needs to begin mending fences and rebuilding trust with the teachers by making them a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. Compensation is important, and teachers as a whole are not adequately compensated for the responsibility that they are charged with but morale and feeling respected by those you work with is equally as important.
Qualifications - I am currently chairperson of the Citizen's Advisory Commission for the city of Hayward where I have been an active member for seven years. I have served as president of both the Fremont Chamber of Commerce and Mission San Jose Rotary Club. I have participated on the Board for S.A.V.E. I also serve as vice president of the COP Board for the Fremont Unified School District. I have a lifetime teaching credential from the state of California and I have taught supervision and management classes, as well as finance classes at Ohlone and Chabot community colleges. Most importantly, I am raising a grandchild who attends school in Hayward. I know the concerns with both the teachers and the parents, and I am experienced in resolving conflict, contract negotiations, budgets and personnel issues.
Profession - As a young mother of four children, to actively participate in their education was a must. Soon I saw myself not only learning about the many ways in which as a parent it was important for me to get involved, but the realization that it was crucial for me to share that information with the other parents around me. I saw my leadership skills as a powerful tool to make a difference. The opportunity to reach out to the community, as a parent, a community member and a women came when I was hire to facilitate workshops to the parents of Tennyson High School. This is my fifth year as a parent advocate for Tiburcio Vazquez Health Center. I am also a full-time student at Chabot College.
Reason for running - As a parent with children in this district, and as an advocate for parents of children in this district, I have the knowledge of where the needs are in our community. I know where the needs are for our Hayward students to achieve high academic standards. I want to change the attitude of HUSD towards our children and parents. I am ready to demand the best curriculum, learning environment and administration so that every child in our district can succeed.
Challenges - One of the biggest challenges that HUSD has is the budget, but the district wants to solve the budget mess by cutting funds close to the classroom. I want to do it by cutting funds away from the children's classroom. This protects children and teachers, while making our bureaucracy work more efficiently. Another Challenge is to have the community trust.
Qualifications - I will direct resources to the classroom and stop the wasteful spending on high-priced consultants with no proven results. I will welcome parent and community engagement. I will not only listen, but act, establishing a respectful and truthful partnership. My door will always be open to parents and students who are finding obstacles to their academic success.
Profession - My profession is that of a teacher for almost six years. Currently I am teaching at Fremont Unified School District; prior to that I taught at Hayward Unified School District.
Reason for running - The Hayward community needs better schools for our children. I am very dissatisfied with the school board and the district. The continued mismanagement of fiscal and educational resources has made our Hayward schools worse every year. I know we can do better to provide excellent school for our community.
Challenges - The school board and district need to stop using politics for job security at the expense of our children's education. The district has many positions which need to be consolidated or eliminated where redundancy of job duties is present. There is just no accountability in fiscal matters; School violence needs to be addressed for bullying, and gang violence need to stop at our schools. The district and board need to take a much more proactive role to rid our schools of violence. More can be done to collaborate with other members of the community and law enforcement to begin programs to that will mitigate violence; and the Hayward school district needs to develop a relationship with the city of Hayward, Chabot Community College and Cal State East Bay University to promote the transition of our students from all of our high schools into higher learning. The drop-out rate of high students is inexcusable. As a community we can develop a very strong collaboration program to track and encourage our students to succeed academically from elementary through the university. After all an educated community with very high expectations is a thriving community.
Qualifications - My qualifications are that of previous teacher in Hayward, and I am very aware of the problems from the inside. Most important I am a parent and resident of Hayward with a child in one of Hayward's middle schools. Prior to becoming a teacher I had been in corporate management for over 15 years. My education credentials are that of a California Multi-Subject and administrator for the public school system with employment experience as a teacher in Hayward for over four years. I have degrees of B.S. in computer science, M.S. education leadership from Cal State East Bay.
Loretta R. Robertson
Milpitas Unified School District (elect two):
Profession - I am a software engineering manager (senior level). I have total of about 24 years of experience in computer field.
Reason for running - I highly value quality education. I believe in giving back to the community. I think I have the experiences, skill set, and vision that I can apply to contribute to our community to make a positive difference as a school board member.
Challenges - These are the challenges that I see, and I made it my top priorities if elected: improve academic achievement for all students, and close achievement gap; making wise decisions with limited budget and resources; and look into schools infrastructure needs to meet enrollment growth.
Qualifications - Years of experiences and proven track record of community involvements helps prepare me to serve as a School Board member. As Chairperson of John Sinnott Elementary School Site Council (two years ago), I had the opportunity to work with principal, teachers, and parent representatives, on matters such as: reviewing and approving School Site Plan; school calendar; and provided input to the school district via CBAC (Community Board Advisory Committee) meetings. Currently I am a member of Rancho Middle School Site Council, PTSA and CBAC representative. I am honored to serve as chairperson of Knights of Columbus 2008 Fund Raising to benefit Special Education Program at Milpitas High School. My experiences as a Planning Commission member also taught me about review process, decision making, Brown Act, etc. As a senior-level manager in a high technology industry, I take care of matters related to personnel, budgets, scheduling, product development, quality control and customers. Numerous management trainings that I took helped me to become a better manager and leader. With a Master of Science degree from USC, I value education. I understand the importance of closing the achievements gaps, and provide quality education to help our students prepare for a better future.
Profession - I had worked as Electronics Production Manager for many years before I changed to my current profession as interpreter in 1993. From 1998 - 2003, I served two U.S. Ambassadors as diplomatic interpreter. I also have had the privilege to interpret for our former and current presidents as well as numerous Congressional members and Cabinet secretaries.
Reason for running - I definitely believe in the value of public education. I am dedicated to serving the needs of all children, regardless of their abilities and backgrounds. There are urgent issues in our district which have prompted me to step forward to work with other Board Members. My lucidly practical proposals are all about raising the level of competitiveness of our students.
Challenges - I have specific solutions for the following issues: Milpitas High School is overcrowded, and the city's approval of hundreds of new residential units in the Transit Area ignores the need for a new Elementary school; the district's reduced budget must be augmented; many laboratory experiments for science courses have been removed from the curriculum. The students need other opportunities to apply text book theories and concepts to excel; and there are a large number of English learners in Milpitas. Their inadequate English have been impeding their test scores and thereby their schools' ranking.
Qualifications - First and foremost, I offer parents and students in Milpitas my managerial skills, a clear vision, commitment and specifically sensible plans to raise our children's competitiveness. I worked with Sunnyhills Neighborhood Association for several years. I have been an active member of the Parents Association of the local Boy Scouts Troop 111 since early 2004. I currently hold a top-secret security clearance from the U.S. Department of State. I would share more with you about my American experience, but I think you are more interested in the discussion of my sensible plans for the present and future.
Profession - I am a quality assurance manager and I have worked in that field for 15 years with the exception of two years as an analyst/Para-transit engineer and five years as a stay at home dad.
Reason for running - I have been involved with the school district for some time now through my involvement with the PTA. I have a connection with the people who have children in the public schools. I believe that the people of Milpitas deserve school board members that will represent the things that they (the people) feel are important. In addition, our strength as a community is the connection the citizens have with the schools and the school district. I have the experience of involvement with both groups. I have children in the school system. I am educated and can articulate the important topics that affect our schools today. I simply want to serve the community as a school board member.
Challenges - We have many and the easy ones to pick out are the budget, getting and retaining qualified staff. Building a core curriculum that is current valid and results in quality learning for our children. We also need programs that engage the imagination, skills and desire to learn of our children. We have traffic issues that have been talked about for 12 years, and we need to stand up and say enough talking, let us fix this for the last time with the help of the city.
Qualifications - I stand up and get involved, I talk to people and listen to their opinions and concerns. I am involved in the schools; I am a big supporter of after-school sports programs, and Rainbow Theater. I have a master's degree in information technology. I have been an adult learner, and I have experience managing budgets. I have experience managing people in quality improvement efforts and working in teams. I know how to engage volunteers. Most importantly, I have a deep concern for our children and want them to have a meaningful education that will inspire them into a lifetime of learning. I have no desire to use the school board position as a stepping-stone to getting into city government.