NUSD Race: Ensuring Student Needs

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

THE NATOMAS BUZZ invited the 10 candidates for Natomas Unified school board to participate in a series of articles wherein they answer questions submitted by readers. 
Today’s question was sent to us by reader Brason Lee.

THE NATOMAS BUZZ asked, “If elected to the school board, how will you work to ensure that the needs of students will be protected over the needs of the school district, the school, or its employees?” 

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


Students are the number one priority, and that is the main reason why I am running for school board – to provide an equal and quality education for each child in this district. My simple standard is to make sure every decision I make is in the best interest of our children. However, I believe that the needs of students, employees and the school district are closely related; a rising tide lifts all boats. We’ve got to provide our teachers with the resources needed to be effective. Natomas can easily be a community where children and families are safe and secure, because of a strong parent-teacher relationship, thoughtful administrators, and tons of community involvement. With your support, I will work diligently to solidify and restore the confidence in our school board, and to bring pragmatic and considerate solutions to each problem our district will face.


Many of the candidates share the apparent frustration of the reader. What serves the needs of students are best found in the schools they attend, and the teachers and staff who see to it firsthand that the best possible environment, services and instruction are provided. It’s the job of the district to ensure budget decisions and policies reflect the priorities of the schools, arrived at after parent, teacher, and community dialogue and consensus. This should happen before school board votes take place. I believe the needs of my child help determine the needs of her school and the employees she interacts with on a daily basis. On a larger scale, the collective needs of students must be determined by ALL parties involved: parents, students, teachers, staff and then, the district. The practice of inclusion is what makes consensus possible. If elected, I will work to make it a reality.


Our school district, schools, and employees exist for the sole purpose of ensuring that all 12,000 NUSD students have access to high quality educational programs and services. Schools and teachers must have the resources to meet the needs of their students (e.g., classroom supplies, textbooks, safe/comfortable learning environment). The district needs high quality administrators to ensure we are complying with state/federal laws and evaluate the effectiveness of the delivery of educational programs and services. There should never be a question about “choosing” the district or a school over the needs of students. The question I will ask myself for each and every agenda item is, “Will voting for (or against) this item benefit Natomas students now and for the future?” With children in kindergarten and the 4th grade, all my votes will be geared to ensuring a strong district and schools for at least the next 13 years.


I have made it no secret my desire to run was based on issues within the district my family and I have come across. While talking to many other parents I found that they are also troubled and struggling with the same issues. I have made it my objective to ensure the voice and needs of every student and parent is heard and protected. I want every family in our district to feel that they have a voice in their child’s future and the board members, they entrust, will serve in our children’s sole interest. It should not be based on what school they attend, or what background they belong to. The students are the foundation of our district and the very reason we are here. If we allow one student to fail then we as trustees have failed. If elected, as a parent, our children will come first.


For the past 16 years, I’ve always prioritized the needs of students. As trustee, I will continue to do this by increasing the level of transparency and accountability to residents who entrust me their children and tax dollars. One of the first things I will do is to help the district establish a long-term vision and direction for our schools with input from all stakeholders (parents, students, community, employees, etc.), and focus on how students achieve their highest potential. This process will involve setting financial priorities and looking for solutions that do not affect our children—strengthening staff professional development, having enough staff to serve students, questioning district spending, evaluating programs and services, and welcoming parents involvement in the process. I am committed to creating or enhancing programs that improve the learning and achievement of school children, and then ensuring that ongoing board policies and decisions ultimately benefit ALL students.


Board members are the only locally elected officials chosen solely to represent the interests of children. As such, it is the Board’s responsibility to speak out on their behalf and be advocates for students, the district’s educational programs, and public education. Maintaining good relationships with district staff is critical but the kids must always come first. I have been a parent my entire adult life which means every adult decision I have ever made has been driven by the question, “How will this affect my child or children?” If elected, I promise to continue to ask this question for all our children. As an active parent, many students have come to trust me with their thoughts and concerns. I believe that is a critical relationship to be had and I am honored to have so much support from the key residents I will pledge to serve – the kids.


I work tirelessly to always put students first with every decision I have make on the board. I have been faced with some very tough choices over the last four years; NUSD is operating with general fund revenue that is 29% lower today than in 2008, but I have worked hard to keep the impacts of reduced revenue as far away from the classroom as possible. We have regained our financial stability and continue to serve the kids of Natomas in the best possible manner. Great things are happening in Natomas; student success is demonstrated by year after year growth of the district’s academic performance index (API) and double digit growth in 2012 of all sub groups. Natomas has great schools, the needs of the students are always first and that is why my children attended NUSD schools.


Maybe I am naïve, but if we do not protect the needs of our students then there is no district, schools, or employees. As a board member I would stress to all with vested interest, that with every parent that loses confidence in the district and seek other means of providing their child with an education; we come closer to dissolving the Natomas Unified School District as a governing entity of education. With that said we must prioritize our spending with the classroom first and the district office last. I would request the formulation of a committee consisting of parents, teacher and district officers whose mission is to list the standard needs of a student and its classroom. The board when developing the district budget will take the listed recommendation as slated for full funding.

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