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Four candidates running for Roseville Joint Union High School District

Two board seats open for local district
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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In recent years, the Roseville Joint Union High School District has been at the forefront of launching progressive academic programs. And the district’s students continue to perform well in state testing. But this doesn’t mean the journey has been smooth for the district recently. Last March, the district issued layoff or reassignment notices to more than 40 teachers, counselors and administrators. It was a rough time for employees unsure whether they’d be out of a job when the 2010-11 school year rolled around. With retirement, increased student enrollment and normal attrition, the district was able to rehire all but two teachers. Teachers and classified employees agreed to two furlough days. Administrators, counselors and support staff will take five furlough days this year. The district’s five comprehensive high schools, one continuation school and one independent study program have an enrollment of about 10,085, up from 9,853 last year. The terms for school board members Jack Duran and Scott Huber expire this year. Duran will soon become a Placer County Supervisor. Huber is running for re-election. The Press Tribune sat down with the four candidates. Scott Huber Age: 41 Occupation: Attorney Family: Wife Debbie and four kids Q: Tell me about your history with the school board. A: I started in 2004, elected as a board member to Roseville City School District. An opening came about on the high school board. My oldest (child) is still in elementary school, so I want to make sure we have really good high schools for a long time. It made sense (for me) to be on the high school board to make sure we offer quality education (and) push ourselves in the future to offer better education. I applied in July 2007, was appointed, and ran in 2008 for the balance of that term and was elected. Q: Why do you want to serve again? A: We have a lot of work still to do. The school district has taken on some ambitious endeavors, in the International Baccalaureate program, online learning, we’re expanding our career technical education offerings. We have the Avid program. We also have a goal of increasing our number of graduates who have completed the University of California A-G requirements and every year we have seen marked increases. While that’s great, we need to keep that process going. Today’s students learn differently than students 20 years ago. We have computer and online capabilities that didn’t exist back then. We need to modify how we teach our students but still prepare them for the future. That’s why I’m running — to help provide that vision and direction. Q: What pressing issues face the district? A: The biggest one is funding. We have a funding mechanism we’re stuck with. We receive the dollars we receive but we are tasked with educating every child. We will educate every child and do a superior job. (But) we are asking everybody — administration, teachers, all of our staff — to do more with less. We’re somewhat fortunate that, because of the programs we offer, a fairly large influx of students from other areas come into (our) district. We have increasing enrollment a little bit that helps with funding. But that struggle isn’t going to change anytime soon. Balancing a budget requires difficult decisions be made. We have to be eternally vigilant with our expenses. Q: What do you think you can bring to the board? A: I know a great deal about how the district is governed, what programs we have — there’s no learning curve for me. I bring the desire to be there for the long term because it will affect not just my kids but all our kids. I consider all of our students in the district my kids. I’m the only one with kids that will ultimately be entering this school district so it gives me a unique perspective. Q: What do you hope for the future of your district? A: I hope our district continues to be a model of excellence. There’s a saying, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you’re just sitting there.” We provide very good education, but we can’t rest, we have to keep pushing forward. For more information, visit www.scotthuber.com. Linda Park Age: 65 Occupation: Small-business owner Family: Husband George, two kids and two grandchildren Q: Why are you running for the school board? A: I am technically a third-generation Rosevillian, even though I moved here in 1997. My grandfather, Fred Meyers, had two businesses in Roseville and he was on the City Council. We have a long history of community activism. I looked at the city through the eyes of Leadership Roseville, which I was invited to participate in a few months after we moved here. I got acquainted with city leaders, county leaders and got a picture of what was going on in the community and realized Roseville was going to grow substantially. I realized we have a very good school district and rising test scores but I believe even better days are ahead of us if we make the right decisions, and I want to be a part of that. I want to help young adults realize their dreams and I believe the catalyst for that is quality education. Q: What pressing issues face the district? A: Probably the budget, given the nature of the economy and fact that there is no state budget. We have some serious issues ahead of us. Some of the board members are no longer going to be there and they’re going to leave a vacuum that needs to be filled with someone who cares about the community and understands what it’s like to manage a budget, and I’ve certainly got that experience on both a national level and small-business level. Q: How can you help address budget issues? A: I take the view that everything’s on the table. Small businesses and states that operate (like this) do better because they meet the needs of all of the people and not just some of the people that they represent. My guess is that’s a little different than how things are traditionally looked at. We have contracts and other things we must honor. But we certainly need to take a look at some things, like textbooks — if there were online applications a student could use. Textbooks have a way of changing rapidly and they’re very expensive, so that’s a big issue. I know that traditionally volunteers have not been as readily available to school districts (because of prohibitive rules). What a shame. We’re wasting some of our best resources. We (should consider a) mentor teacher program. Q: What do you consider the best aspects of the district? A: The International Baccalaureate program interests me greatly. I see that as a huge step in the right direction. Q: What can you bring to the district? A: I have practical experience, in terms of running a business. I have a love of this community. I have a commitment to the young adults that I would represent. Q: What do you hope for the future of your district? A: The current testing scores are excellent but there is room for improvement. I would like to see us go from good to great. For more information, visit www.votelindapark.com. Kathleen Rojas Age: 33 Occupation: Attorney Family: Husband Paul, no kids Q: Why are you running for the school board? A: I come from a family that places education on the top of our values, probably because for my parents education was their ticket out of poverty. When they became teachers in their native country of Colombia, they helped their brothers and sisters obtain an education and then migrated to the United States. Education played a huge role in (my) upbringing. I have always been passionate about students. Since (college), I’ve either been tutoring kids, mentoring kids, helping families through the college-admission process or working as a high school teacher in the San Juan Unified School District. We need people willing to work cooperatively and collaboratively with teachers, administrators and parents because what’s happening is that we have a lot of competing interests. For example, administrators want results and to see student achievement increase. Teachers want to teach. Parents want rights. I’m running because I think it’s time we promote 21st century learning for our students, and what that means is multi-literacy, adaptability and creativity. My goal is to build the finest learning community for our students and I think Roseville is an ideal area to do it. We’ve got great teachers, skilled administrators and involved parents. Q: What pressing issues face the district? A: Budget, budget and budget. Trying to accommodate the needs of our students with the limited budget we have. (We need) volunteer programs. We have an amazing retirement community in our district that is an untapped source of retired teachers, librarians and professionals. When we look at how do we meet the needs with the limited budget, we need to look there. Q: What do you consider the best aspects of this district? A: That we have a reputation for being fiscally conservative. We have some amazing teachers. An example is the teacher at Woodcreek High School that started the culinary academy. She went beyond teaching. They won the (Guinness World Record for) biggest ravioli. It’s a wonderful thing to see a teacher tapping into the way students learn and being creative. Teachers need the flexibility to teach. We need to keep students engaged, like (with) this program and theater, arts and science. Q: What would you bring to the board? A: I bring a passion for our community of students. I bring my own experience of having been raised in the public school system from kindergarten to law school (at UC Davis). I know the pitfalls and opportunities. I know what it’s like to come from a community with limited resources for education. I have the drive and energy to shake things up to move in the direction of what is modern today. I’d be the one with the most recent experience regarding the rigors and challenges of what college requires. Q: What do you hope for the future of your district? A: My vision is that it be top-notch, recognized in the state as the best learning environment for our students. For more information, visit www.kathleenrojas.com. Daniel Wesp Age: 29 Occupation: Deputy district attorney Family: unmarried, no kids Q: Why are you running for the school board? A: I enjoy what I’m doing now, in that I represent the people of the state of California. After a jury trial, it’s always amazing how many people stick around and shake your hand and say thank you for your help and what you’re doing. But as a district deputy attorney, I have limited tools. Most of the tools involve incarceration. I thought this is another way I can give back to the community and have more tools. I grew up in a family of educators. I’m a product of public education at a time when the worry for me wasn’t whether or not the district had a budget for an activity or a program, but how I was going to fit in (another activity) between the AP classes, the band, wrestling, shop class. Now with the economy how it is and the budget districts have, students don’t have as many of those opportunities as I did. Q: What pressing issues face the district? A: Unfortunately, it’s money. In this continued time of financial uncertainty, it’s important that the board be fiscally responsible. It’s important that board members are flexible and creative in their policymaking. Q: If elected, how would you help to address budget issues? A: It’s important that cuts are kept as far away from the classroom as possible and I think the current board has done that. It’s important that we continue to advance our curriculum through new programs, such as the International Baccalaureate program. I think the I.B. program has brought in students, which increases the average-daily attendance, which increases funding. We can expand that program and motivate teachers to teach through new and exciting curriculum and motivate students to learn because now they have an advantage over students from other districts. Q: What do you consider the best aspects of the district? A: The focus on fiscal responsibility. This district realizes that the priority is our students, (which is shown by) their graduation rates and competitiveness in the workforce and in higher education. This district has made it a point to make sure all students receive a college-preparatory level education and I think that’s a policy that needs to continue and be furthered. Q: What do you think you can bring to the school board? A: A perspective of being a product of the public school system at a time when the budget was good and when students didn’t have to worry about programs, art, music, leadership classes and sciences being cut. Also, I’m a person that uses flexible and creative decision-making — those are skills I’ve had to master throughout my work. Q: What do you hope for the future of this district? A: As a deputy district attorney, I think ensuring public safety is an everyday endeavor. Ensuring the safety of our students at school is definitely a priority for me. (Additionally), every student should have the opportunity to have the best teachers, drama programs, sports and leadership opportunities. For more information, visit www.votedanielwesp.com.