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ELECTION 2012

Four candidates running for three seats on Roseville high school district board

Three incumbents in the race, along with current RSCD trustee
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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EDITOR'S NOTE: The Press Tribune is conducting interviews with candidates for the four local school boards. All articles will be available on www.thepresstribune.com.

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Four candidates are running for the Roseville Joint Union High School District board of trustees with three seats available. The election takes place Nov. 6.

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For the past decade, Roseville native Rene Aguilera, 51, has served on Roseville City School District's board of trustees. He feels it's time to transition to the high school district's school board. If elected, he vows to keep funding close to the classroom.

Tell me about your background.

I attended Cirby Elementary School, Warren T. Eich Intermediate School and Roseville High and graduated from the University of California, Davis. My interest in being a public servant came from my parents. My dad was involved with the railroad union and my mom was involved in the community. My older brothers set a great example. Both of them were student body presidents, so I was student body president in middle school and high school. From early on, I believed I was tapped to be a leader for my community.

Why are you running?

I'm running so I can increase parent involvement, especially with English language learner parents. I want to encourage new revenue ideas and promote a higher education culture for our students, make school safety a priority (and) connect students to college and career-ready pathways.

I have coordinated a youth leadership conference for sixth through 12th graders. We have role models that come and speak to students about careers and academic possibilities.

I want to ensure that RJUHSD becomes financially stronger and I want the district to move forward with a community-derived strategic plan to personalize student achievement. I want to continue to restore programs that support learning, like (Peer Helping) at Oakmont and Roseville high schools.

What big issues does the district face?

The possibility of charter schools: They take money from public schools and give them to schools that are independent from the district and its policies and programs.

The dropout rate is high for Latinos. I want to restore adult education skills development programs for students who cannot afford or choose not to go to college. These programs bring students who have dropped out of high school back into the education system and give them the tools to provide for themselves and their families.

(In the future), there will be the building of a new high school ... (the board) will probably have to look at boundary issues. You can tell a lot of these schools are bulging. When I went to Roseville High School there were no portables. One of the classes I visited recently was like P-42. Does that mean there are 42 portables? Wow.

What do you hope for the future of the district?

These difficult financial times (are) going to require more collaborative and educated leaders such as myself to keep the focus on teaching and learning. I have something to offer in the area of school curriculum, school reform and school governance.

For more information, email Rene Aguilera at rosevilleschoolboard@yahoo.com.

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Garry Genzlinger, 69, retired from the Roseville high school district in 2004, after nine years as a teacher and 27 years as a counselor. He's been on the district's board of trustees for eight years.

Why are you running for re-election?

I truly believe the years we've had an educator on the board, that we always seemed to do better as far as what we offered students. I've known board members who've said they're afraid to go into a classroom because they're intimidated by kids. General Motors won't put a bunch of laymen on a board without having somebody there who's got some knowledge of the auto industry. I feel I can still do some good. My focus is always on the kids and that's where it should be.

What are some accomplishments from your time on the board?

Antelope High School would be a big plus. We needed a school over there. The International Baccalaureate program is doing well.

I'm proud of what we've done (at Roseville High School) with new buildings and keeping things up as much as we can. Each one of the schools has one outstanding program they can hang their hat on and that's great, and they don't all have to be the same.

I give a lot of credit to former boards and superintendents because they've done a good job of keeping this district solvent. We have a healthy reserve. We're always conservative in our numbers. We look at that money as though it's our own money and how we would spend it and what makes sense.

What big issues does the district face?

We have some administrators who are probably going to be thinking about retiring and we need to start looking at (replacements). If we have some key administrators retiring, I want to be there to make sure we hire good people to replace them.

We've got to look at a sixth high school in the Fiddyment area. If the money's not there, the money's not there. ... We may have to do a scaled-down model so we can serve the kids there and expand the school as money comes in.

What can the district do better?

Our teaching strategies, we're working on that. Delivery in the classroom - not every student learns the same way. We're looking at online learning. Education has to be proactive, you can't just sit back on your laurels and say, 'Hey, we've done a great job.' You've got to be out there trying to improve.

Why should people vote for you?

I bring a wealth of experience to the board that nobody else really has. I am not out to use this as a stepping stone to some other position. I have no desire to do anything else, but help kids have a better life in their future.

For more information on Garry Genzlinger, email ggenzlinger@rjuhsd.us.

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R. Jan Pinney, 65, has lived in the area for 33 years and is a small business owner. He's served on the Roseville high school district board for 17 years.

Why are you running for re-election? There are some whole new concepts of teaching I want to make sure we evaluate. One is the concept of the flipped classroom. Teenagers are tied to their (cell phones) and are great multi-taskers. You watch TV, listen to music on your iPod, do homework and yet we try to stick you in a class and have someone lecture. I don't think that's the most effective way.

We need to have courses available where you watch a video and then classes ought to be for applying the education and seeing how what you learn can apply in the real world. So many kids today don't see the relevance of some classes.

Like with Geometry in Construction, which allows kids to actually do construction and geometry together and the kids were excited about it because they saw geometry in action. It wasn't just a bunch of symbols on a piece of paper.

What are big issues facing the district? The state's broke. The RJUHSD has the highest financial rating given by Moody's for short-term borrowing. We are prudent with our money. The state has five ratings below us. So for us to expect the state to solve our problems isn't realistic, even if the governor's bill passes, which I don't think it will. We can't go to the taxpayer and say we want you to pay more for our product. We have to figure out how to do what we do more effectively (and) work with the money we have.

What votes have you made that stand out? One of the first votes I made was to approve (Oakmont's) Health Careers Academy. I think the vote was 3 to 2. It's one of the top programs in the whole country. That was our first outside-the-box academy.

What are the best aspects of the district? We have an ability to attract and retain great teachers. It's because we realize how important the teacher is to the educational process. We're constantly looking for ways to improve the relevancy and the rigor of what we're teaching. We have great facilities. It's tough to focus when rain is coming through the roof and we've been able to, through good fiscal management and discipline, maintain first-rate schools, even our oldest school - Roseville High School is 100 years old.

What does the district need to do better? I've had eight children go through these schools ... One son was valedictorian and one son dropped out of school, got his GED and joined the Marines. We need to make sure we reach both kinds of kids.

For more information on R. Jan Pinney, email rpinney@rjuhsd.us.

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Paige Stauss, 56, earned an accounting degree and masters of business administration from University of California, Berkeley, then worked in banking and for a computer company. She became a stay-at-home mom to raise her four children, and has served on the high school board since 2004. 

Why are you running for re-election?

We're going to be faced with some very difficult financial choices and this board has been willing to make difficult financial choices for the last four years. As much as it's not fun, I want to be a part of that because the challenge is really figuring out can we do things a different way? We have conserved to the point where I don't believe there's anything left to save or conserve. We really have to do something innovative in order to deal with our lack of funding.

I've been very involved with high school No. 6. I've been on the design team (and) I am thrilled about the design. ... The state can't match (facility) funds so we're working hard at trying to figure out what can we build with the funding we have.

(This) will be a different high school than you'll see anywhere in California. It's based on our vision for education and our vision includes professional learning communities where teachers are collaborating with each other and the facility is designed with that in mind.

What's an example of some innovative things the district should consider?

We've got to look at how we do online learning. We have to figure out how to teach more students and get greater learning with fewer resources. There's nobody in school today who's not been raised with technology. They have different synapses in their brains and we need to tap into how they learn. We don't need to give them a lot of facts. We need to give them critical thinking skills.

What are some accomplishments from your time on the board?

One is when we increased graduation requirements. One of the greatest things (about block schedules) is instead of taking 24 classes, you take 32 classes so you have more electives. But with our graduation requirements low in number of units and classes, many of our students were graduating as juniors or taking one or two classes senior year, and that wasn't the point. The point was to introduce students to more learning. So we increased the number of units (and a) math requirement.

Why should people vote for you?

In this election, it's an easy answer: People should vote for the incumbents because (we) have demonstrated our ability to financially manage our district and I think that's the biggest issues facing us. In the incumbents, you have a lot of energy, a lot of commitment, but mostly you have three people who truly believe students are the center of all we do.

For more information on Paige Stauss, email paigestauss@rjuhsd.us.