Natomas School Board Candidates Share Views

School board candidate Noel Mora answers a question during the Oct. 12 forum. / Photo

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Natomas Charter School hosted a candidate forum for the Natomas Unified school board race on Oct. 12 at the Benvenuti Performing Arts Center.

The forum was a collaboration between Natomas Charter, Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep and Westlake Charter schools. Student representatives from each of the three schools asked candidates questions. Forum attendees could submit questions at the event using a QR code.

This is the first by-trustee area election for the Natomas Unified School District. By-trustee area representation was approved earlier this year by the Sacramento County Office of Education.

Here’s a recap of the issues discussed during the Oct. 12 forum:

Megan Allen and Noel Mora are running to represent Area 1 which includes Two Rivers Elementary School, Leroy Greene Academy and American Lakes School.

When asked about what Allen would like to help her area with the most she said that she would like to see the district provide more support to American Lakes in the form of counselors and tutors at the school site.

Mora said that he would like to have more support for Two Rivers and Leroy Greene including tutors to help students at those schools.

Monique Hokman and Cindy Quiralte are running to represent Area 4 which which includes Heron School, Natomas Middle School and H. Allen Hight School.

Hokman said that she would like for the district to pay for volunteer background checks to help with learning loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Quiralte said that she would like to “meet students where they are” to help with the learning loss.

Allen would like to incentivize teachers to come to work in the Natomas Unified district and would also like to advertise open teaching positions more widely in an effort to hire more teachers and aides for the classroom.

Mora said he would look at different student populations to see the response which is needed to support them.

Mental health of students is a top priority for Hokman who said she would like to see an expansion of recreational sports into district middle and high schools.

One of Allen’s top priorities is to see improved communication with parents in schools including talks about school safety. Mora would like to see is a greater access to social workers at schools.

To support for students who may have been bullied, Quiralte said she would would like for the Natomas Unified district to acknowledge that students come from different communities. Hokman said she is looking to provide greater access to counselors for students.

Allen said she looks to advocate for all students and Mora talked about possibly holding a district-wide pride day or month.

As for the adoption of curriculum, Allen said she would like to communicate with parents when the school district reviews proposed new curriculum. Mora said that he would like to have transparency throughout the process, get input from parents and allow for engagement with parents in a number of languages.

Hokman said she would like to push for more transparency throughout the curriculum and would like for students to be able to increase their skills with spelling, grammar and phonics. Quiralte said she would like to respect differences with students and family structure, improve reading and math scores and students’ ability to contribute to society.

Mora said that school choice has allowed for Natomas Unified to be number two in diversity within the United States. Allen said she is in favor of school choice.

Hokman said she is also in favor of school choice and would like for students to have the opportunity to attend the best schools. Quiralte said she believes that students should be able to attend schools in which they can reach the full potential.

Hokman said she supports new school bonds to expand charter campuses. Quiralte said she is unsure whether she would supports such a measure.

Allen said she is in favor of using funds to update and expand facilities within the district if there is money available to do so and Mora said he would be in favor of a bond for charter schools if needed.

Quiralte said she is in favor of expanding dual enrollment courses at district high schools and Hokman said she would like to see career education in the fields of woodworking, culinary arts and mechanics at Natomas Unified campuses. Hokman also said she would like to see a test for students in middle and high schools to help determine what types of careers they would be interested in pursuing.

Allen said she would like to provide students with more career education by partnering with businesses in Natomas. Mora said he would like to provide for more trade education in schools and adding more dual enrollment courses for 11th and 12th grade students which focus on graduation requirements.

As for cafeteria food, Allen said she would like for the Natomas Unified school district to get involved with a farm-to-fork program and work with local farmers for food which could be used for school lunches. Mora said that education around food literacy is important.

Hokman said she would like for students to be able to learn cooking skills while serving the food which was created in culinary arts classes to be served to students. Quiralte said she would like to bring in healthy partners and to grow education around food literacy and food nutrition.

Allen said she would like to expand teacher recruiting and provide incentives for teachers and help them feel supported. Mora said he would like to expand professional development for teachers, conduct a third-party survey and pay teachers equitable wages.

Quiralte said she would like to solve the teacher shortage issue by improving teacher retention.

Allen said she would would like students to have a manageable amount of school work while Mora said he thinks school staff should have resources to ensure students are not given more work than they can handle.

Hokman said she would like to see students get back to grade level without being overloaded with assignments, while Quiralte said that student assignments should help to build student critical thinking skills.

With the new state graduation requirement of Ethnic Studies, Mora said he would like to uphold the representation that is given in the course. Allen said she would like for students to gain greater cultural awareness, but does not support curriculum which creates greater division.

Hokman said she thinks it is a good idea to learn about heritage, but to not create a greater divide. Quiralte said that students should learn about each other’s differences and be respectful of one another.

Allen said that curriculum shared in schools should be age appropriate and that addressing racial and cultural equity is a topic that should be mostly learned at the high school level. Mora said a lot of work has to be done to address racial and cultural equity in educational institutions.

Quiralte said that student safety in schools should be looked at through psychological, emotional and physical aspects. Hokman said that community members should be allowed back on campuses and that student mental health should be a priority.

Allen said that she thinks that student resource officers should be added to campuses to to build relationships with students.

When asked about providing gender neutral bathrooms on campus, Allen said that they can be created, but male and female bathrooms should also be available. Mora said he supported gender neutral bathrooms.

Hokman said she supported gender neutral bathrooms and Quiralte said she supported gender affirming spaces and bathrooms.

Mora said he would like to increase funding for special education and Allen said would like to test students’ reading and math skills and provide academic support accordingly.

Hokman said she would like to see individualized academic plans for all students in the district while Quiralte said would like to provide equitable support and not only look at test scores.

Watch the recording of the Oct. 19 virtual forum for Natomas Unified school board candidates hosted by Natomas Black Parents United at

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