PLATFORM & ISSUES
Motivation for Candidacy
I believe that I would be the best candidate for this postion because of my qualifications and dedication to service. My intention is to be on the board for 3 or more terms; I am not interested in other offices, this is my calling, since it is in education. I know all the board members that will be incumbents in the fall election and like them all. I am able to work with people cooperatively. Solutions to issues such as budget constraints and balancing the interests of various constituents is demanding, particularly when the public is watching, but when you get it right it is very rewarding.
Simply put, I moved to CV because of the schools, then I worked for Castro Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) because it is a great district to work for, and now I would love to shape policy for the schools that make Castro Valley a great place to thrive.
Strengths and Qualities
There are many strengths and qualities that I possess that would positively impact the board. The first, and most important one, is that I am a teacher. I have more than 28 years of experience, 21 of which are with CVUSD. I have taught students from every school in the district, from grades 2 through 12, gen ed., special ed., ESL, students whose parents had a concern with the district, and every subject- particularly at the secondary level with teens from Creekside, Canyon and CVHS via the home/hospital program. I know the curriculum here at CVUSD and I know educational lingo as well as acronyms in education. I am very familiar with the history and people of our school district.
I have experience being on a board, having been appointed to the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council (CV MAC) in Dec. 2018. I know how to work with others, even if they don’t agree with me and I can get my voice heard when it counts. I was recently appointed to the Safe Routes 2 School (SR2S) subcommittee that I had resolved to be on for one year with the CV MAC. As a member of the CV MAC I have learned a lot about land issues and have an understanding of the people of Castro Valley as a leader, which will be helpful to the school board.
I have been in Representative Council or on the executive board through four presidents of the Castro Valley Teachers Association (CVTA). I have attended and contributed to the decision making of the union, participated in actions, and actively sought my replacement for Rep. Council. I have supported pro education candidates for local, county and state positions as a delegate for the 20th AD, an election that I won.
Until there is a vaccine for coronavirus and the risk of infection becomes substantially lower, how classrooms will be partially opened is still in the preliminary stages. Staggering students and class schedules; modifications to assemblies, P.E. and recess; and then the issue of reversing regression in academic performance are some of the remedies that will be proposed to keep social distancing of students and staff. This will be particularly challenging with very young children. Having someone on the board that understands the demands put on teachers would be very helpful in this time of crisis.
As a CV MAC board member, I am working diligently on the safe routes to schools issue. I have made numerous calls, emails, zoom meetings with community leaders, SR2S county coordinator, and Alameda County Public Works officials. There are several proposed changes either completed or in the works. The top two intersections mentioned for change are Crow Canyon & Manter and Redwood & James, there are some state regulations preventing lowering of the speed limit on Crow Canyon Rd. I am setting up a meeting with Assemblyman Bill Quirk to address this issue.
There are a few ways to give some graduating seniors a path to vocational education. First, is to set up apprenticeships with local trade shops, which is something I could help the district with since I know leaders in the unions. Secondly, perhaps a skilled trade’s class could be created at Redwood HS since the graduation requirements are different and this school is dismissed earlier to allow students to practice their trade.
My expertise is in Special Education, thus I am uniquely qualified to handle the issue of Sp. Ed. attendance and graduation rates so that the whole district could have a higher average rate. My own class has an excellent graduation rate and I would like to pass this expertise on. Also, I foresee the use of individual plans being helpful during our social distancing protocols.
Issues Facing Students & Teachers Today
A couple of months ago I would have given a different answer to this. Now the most pressing issue is going to be with the school districts response to the on going issue of the pandemic. Students and teachers are all learning new ways to present curriculum and it is almost certain that the next school year will not be “normal.” The coronavirus has caused unemployment to skyrocket, which in turn will cause less state tax revenue, which will reduce funding to education. Simultaneously expenditure for Cal STIRS will increase. I have personally lived through the nightmare of the last great recession where teachers did not get raises for years and were even furloughed. It looks probable that we are facing another financial crisis.
Another contemporary issue in Castro Valley is the safety of our children. The avoidable death of a Creekside student, Lana Carlos, has brought this issue to the forefront of the community. The district, CV MAC, Bike Walk CV, and other groups have all been working diligently to prevent any more “accidents.” As a teacher in the home/hospital program I have taught several of the CVHS victims of pedestrian/car collisions while they recovered.
Attracting and retaining teachers in the district will always be an issue for the school board. While I was volunteering for Measure I campaign, another volunteer spoke about a newly credentialed teacher, native to CV, who choose SLUSD because of the higher compensation. I spoke to many citizens on the phone and in person about the need to keep our school district competitive with surrounding districts so that we can retain and attract teachers.
A couple of other issues that the school board could address are vocational education and special education. First, voc. ed. is an area in the district that needs greater attention. We have many strong academic programs in CVUSD that should continue and we have access to ROP for future skilled blue-collar workers, but more apprenticeships need to be accessible to our students that do not have an interest in academics or college. Secondly, there is the issue of Sp. Ed. with attendance and graduation rates, statewide Sp. Ed. is lowering these averages, with CVUSD coming in slightly better than the statewide averages. These need to improve and I am the woman for the job.
Priorities for Educational Spending
It sounds cliché, but educational spending is for the children. The citizens want CVUSD’s spending to be where it is most helpful to the students. Who is most important in the equation of how successfully a child is educated? It is their Teacher! Compensation is over 85% of the budget that the board approves, and CVUSD must compete with neighboring districts for the same pool of potential teachers and staff. We are a great district because of the people working in the classrooms with the children.
I believe that art, music, P.E., elementary science, and vocational education are fundamental to the development of a child. Some children need mental health services in order to succeed, others need special education which is expensive, but necessary. Spending on technology will be of paramount importance during these times when we are conducting virtual classrooms.
PAST ISSUES & ANNOUNCEMENTS
January 29, 2020
Vote YES on Measure I – for Our Community, for Our Kids
Over 30 years ago, I moved to Castro Valley because of the reputation of the schools. Perhaps you did, too. But lately we have a problem with funding. Because of the way the state tries to proportion the money to districts with higher numbers of disenfranchised youth, we simply are not getting the funding that CVUSD once received, thus the need for a parcel tax.
The parcel tax is less than $97 per year, has a senior exemption, and will give teachers and support staff a much needed 1% raise. Our schools are good and strong because of the teachers/staff that are committed to excellence for the best outcomes for students. Many other school districts have much larger parcel taxes on the March 3rd ballot. Our proposal is rather modest, and no funds go to administration.
Vote for Measure I, this March 3rd, because we want to retain and attract highly qualified teachers; preserve strong academic programs in reading, writing, math and science; and if for no other reason, to increase your property values.
– Dolly Adams, A Letter to the Editor