Natomas School Board Race: Difference of Opinion

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

SEVENTH IN A SERIES

THE NATOMAS BUZZ invited the five candidates running for the Natomas Unified school board to participate in a series of articles wherein they answer questions submitted by readers. Today’s question asked,

“Is there any Natomas Unified school board action/decision you ever disagreed with and why?”

Here are the answers submitted by the deadline, in the order they were received:

JAG BAINS
I have serious concerns with the Board’s decision to become a single district SELPA under a rushed timeline. Much more parent and community input is needed, especially from the very families this decision will impact. I haven’t seen much outreach efforts other than a recent, reactionary email from the district explaining the reasons for the move. Outreach to parents and student should be proactive, not reactive. Again, I’ve talked with too many parents who feel the district has failed to honor their child’s individualized education plan (IEP). I’d like to see a plan that supports a full continuum of quality special education services and ensures our students learn in the least restrictive environment.

CYNTHIA CONNELL
I love this question! I upset the entire balance of my life to run for school board because I was sick and tired of the countless decisions with which I, 1000 district employees and countless parents disagreed. I want to be part of collaborative decision-making for a change. Superintendent’s salary increases (67%) and house-buying bonus. Me–too raises for superintendent and administrators. Admin bonuses just for staying. Not reversing the non-re-election of an African American teacher. Closing LFGMS. Closing NGMS. Voting against union grievances. Firing a CSEA president. Approving negotiations impasses year after year. Reducing public comment time by 33%. Refusing board meeting videotaping for years despite requests. Repeatedly requesting class size waivers. Letting Bobbie Plough go. Buying the swampland. All these decisions ignored constituent input, reflected anti-labor practices and/or spent money outside the classroom at the expense of our students. None of these support student learning and achievement.

TERI BURNS
When we were in the position of needing significant budget reductions I disagreed with the plan to cut the JROTC program. It was one of our few career courses. I believed we could have marketed it more successfully because the students participating benefited from and enjoyed the program. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time before the start of school to do the recruitment needed so that the classes were filled enough to justify a full-time instructor. Our budget wouldn’t support under-filled courses. There will always be resource issues that force hard decisions. It comes with the job. Since we’ve recovered financially, we’ve started 7 career pathways that similarly engage students and prepare them for engaging work opportunities. We are starting two more next year – one for construction trades and one for police/fire science. I’m excited about these programs and so are our students.

LISA KAPLAN
As a board member, we are responsible for setting policies for the Superintendent to implement and pass a budget that reflects the values of our community. Over the years, I have disagreed with my colleagues regarding policy and budget decisions. For example, Trustee Micah Grant voted no for the second year in a row regarding Board Policy /AR 5145.3 – Nondiscrimination/Harassment. Within this policy are protections for our LGBTQ students. Last year, Trustee Grant specifically indicated that no one should be forced to call a transgendered student by the pronoun they wish to be called. This position is in defiance to the law and the protections that all students attend a safe and harassment-free school environment. Knowing where Board members stand on issues important to you matters as a voter. I support our LGBTQ students, DREAMERS, women’s rights and many other important policies. Find out more at www.kaplan4kids.com.