Meet The Natomas School Board Candidates

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Ten candidates are running for the Natomas Unified school board, but only three can win.

The choices: two incumbents, three repeat candidates and five newcomers to the Natomas schools political scene. On Nov. 6, voters get their pick of three candidates each.

Here’s an introduction to all 10 candidates, presented in alphabetical order by last name:

HK Allen, a parent and health care analyst, ran for school board in 2010. This election, Allen said his number one concern is the school district’s budget.

“What I see is the mishandling of funds which results in the cutting of funds to the classroom as well as proper resources for our children,” he said.

Allen is a member of the Witter Ranch Elementary School PTA, a United Way Plan Partners board member and soccer coach.

“The Natomas community, PTAs, as well as business leaders have all requested a change in the way this school district handles itself,” Allen said. “I am running to add a new voice onto the board, a voice that echos the Natomas community’s frustration and concerns with its schools.”

Newcomer Josh Baker is a cashier and college student who graduated from Inderkum High School in 2010. Baker declined THE NATOMAS BUZZ’s invitation to be interviewed for this article.

Another first-time school board candidate, Michael Bedrosian, is a retail manager at Michaels and father of three children. He decided to enter the race for school board following a meeting during which the sitting board approved pink slips for more than a dozen teachers and voted unanimously to OK pay raises for most administrators.

“I went home and looked at last year’s school budget and what I saw was a joke,” said Bedrosian. “If the district would just stay within the confines of the budget that is drawn out every year, they would run with a profit which, in turn, would allow them to put the money back into the schools.”

Bedrosian said his top priority, if elected, is to be the voice of the kids and the teachers.

“I have no political agenda,” he said. “If the vote is 5-1, and I’m the one, then I will sleep fine that night knowing I did what was right.”

Karen Bernal, parent and community organizer, said she is an advocate for community involvement in school district operations. This first-time school board candidate said she believes her daughter cannot get the same kind of quality public education and services Bernal received as a child.

If elected to the board, she said her priority would be to encourage dialog with the community and restore resources to the classroom.

“We must also look beyond merely closing achievement gaps and have the courage to commit to providing all the things that make an environment for learning possible,” she said. “The true value of teaching and learning can never be fully realized if we care only about test scores or cutting corners at the expense of qualified instructors, smaller classes, physical education, and the support that schools need on a daily basis.”

Briza Trujillo Cardenas, a parent and small business owner, ran for school board in 2008. Despite losing the election that year, she has continued to be an active presence in the district.

Cardenas has held leadership positions in PTA groups at American Lakes Elementary, Leroy F. Greene Middle and Natomas High schools and served on English Learner Advisory committees at Natomas Middle and Natomas High schools. Her volunteerism also includes serving on the school district’s Achievement Gap Committee, as a HOST mentor at American Lakes, and on the school site council for Natomas High.She said she is running for school board as an advocated for students and parents in the Natomas Unified School District. 

“My mission is to make sure that each student will get an education that will allow him/her to achieve their fullest potential,” Cardenas said. “If I am elected I will work with other board members to ensure that teachers are giving adequate resources to better help the students.”

Candidate Scott Dosick is a parent, teacher and business owner running for the Natomas Unified school board for the first time this election. He feels district schools should reflect their own diversity.

“The Natomas Unified School District is the second-most diverse in the nation,” he said. “We need to offer programs that meet the needs of all Natomas students.”

Dosick has served on the district’s Budget Advisory Committee and Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee. He’s also the past Westlake Charter School WAVE president and currently a member of the Westlake Charter School Board.

His top priority if elected: raising revenue for the district by retaining students.

“We need to stop the flight of students to other districts and private schools,” said Dosick. “The best way to do this is to offer the programs that will keep these families in the NUSD schools.” 

Another political newcomer Vina Guzman, is a parent and school finance director currently volunteering as the PTSA vice president at Inderkum High school.

“When I told some of the kids I was running for school board — their eyes lit up and they said, ‘I can’t wait to help with your campaign!’,” she said. “What better endorsement could I possibly have than the kids I will pledge to serve?”

Guzman is running for school board because she understands the frustration of parents wanting to have their voice be heard in the decision-making process.

“I feel the No. 1 important issue in this election is improving communication with parents and improving public relations in general,” she said. “We all want what’s best for our kids and we should be working as a team not fighting. When we don’t work together, it’s the kids that are losing out.”

Ryan Herche, an educator and legislative analyst, who lost the 2010 school board election by only 20 votes is running again because he’s concerned about Natomas Unified’s future.

“NUSD hasn’t seen the level of improvement that I know it is capable of,” he said. “Parents are losing confidence in our elected officials’ ability to solve our ongoing problems, such as the overwhelming achievement gap and the financial instability that has plagued the district for so long.”

Herche said making sure every child has equal and quality access to education is his top priority this election.

“Natomas Unified is more than capable of being the standard-bearer for education in California,” he added. “I know that with your help, we can get there.”

Incumbent Sue Heredia was first elected to the Natomas Unified School Board in 2000. She and her husband raised two sons who completed their K-12 education in the district.

Prior to becoming a school board member, Heredia was a PTSA member and parent volunteer at Jefferson and American Lakes Elementary Schools, Leading Edge Charter School and Natomas High. She also served on the American Lakes School Site Council and the district Superintendent’s Advisory Council.

“Public education provided the foundation and framework for my own personal success and that of my family,” Heredia said. “I want to continue helping students achieve district and state standards; provide support for teachers to meet the needs of a diverse student population; and, strengthen the link between parents and teachers.”

Her priorities this election are ensuring the district maintain a balanced budget and fiscal integrity, helping each student to achieve and exceed district and state standards, and offering educational programs for all students as related to the achievement gap, technology and alternative educational pathways. 

Said Heredia, “Public education is not just a task or job for me, it is my passion and my life’s work.”

Bruce Roberts, the second incumbent running, was first elected to the school board in 2008. During his tenure, the school district faced bankruptcy and the possibility of being taken over by the state.

“I am proud of my contributions that averted this crisis and put the district on a path toward fiscal health,” he said.

Roberts has coached T-Ball, assisted with youth soccer, youth baseball and is currently involved with the Jr. Tigers Football and Cheer program. He was the founding president of the Natomas School District’s Citizen Bond Oversight Committee and served as an initial member of the Heron Elementary School Site Council.

“I want to do my part to make Natomas a great place and a community we are all proud to be part of,” said Roberts about his bid for re-election. “I bring a parent’s outlook to the board, my children both attend district schools and that perspective helps guide me with a passion as to make the schools in Natomas places of great learning and development.”

Financial stability and improving students reading, language arts, math and science skills are issues important to Roberts this election.

“I will continue to work hard and see that education options exist for all families in the district.”

Have a question you’d like to ask the 2012 Natomas Unified school board candidates you’d like to see answered on THE NATOMAS BUZZ? Submit it to us at [email protected]

Four candidate forums have been scheduled for the Natomas Unified school board race. All forums are open to the public.
6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Hosted by the Natomas Park Master Association
TheClub at Natomas Park
2101Club Center Drive

6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Hosted by the Natomas Community Association
Natomas High School library
3301Fong Ranch Road

Oct. 17
time to be determined
Hosted by the NP3 student super PAC
Natomas Pacific Pathways
3700 Del Paso Road

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Hostedby Natomas Charter School students
BenvenutiPerforming Arts Center
4600 Blackrock Drive

Speak Your Mind