Why am I running...
So why am I running? Two main reasons: 1) We need to change the public focus from UTLA & Charter Schools and put STUDENTS and student achievement FIRST; and 2) The district faces minimally a $500 million annual operating shortfall and we must get serious about balancing the budget with strategic thinking and a willingness to make tough fiscal decisions.
I was a teacher and school administrator for 17 years before becoming Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club 25 years ago. During my tenure as Director, I have instituted comprehensive programming to supplement what is NOT being adequately provided in our public schools for “those who need us most”. College Bound, Career Bound, Arts Academy, STEM programming are just a few of the initiatives we have dedicated ourselves to over these 25 years. Our College Bound program has provided our members with the 1-on-1 support and services necessary to graduate on time (99% again last year) and attend college (95% average over the last 5 years). We have sent 2500 of our members to college over the past 5 years – most of which were the first in their family to attend. My organization has put students first – I will do the same once again as School Board member.
Mistakenly, the rhetoric surrounding the school district over the past year has been monopolized by whether or not we should have Charter Schools. Our leaders in Sacramento are currently hashing out how we will be moving forward with Charters – so this must not be the focus moving forward as the fate of our Charter Schools will be soon be decided and will more than likely continue to be a choice for students and parents.
Therefore, the real focus should be how do we work to prioritize/improve student achievement as the district faces a $500 million annual shortfall and its reserves will be depleted in two years? This shortfall is real – the District and UTLA agreed to this reality when trying to unsuccessfully pass Measure EE recently. Unless there is some windfall of funding from the state to fill that gap – LAUSD will have to make some difficult choices OR will find itself on the brink of insolvency and could lose local control as the County and/or State will take over the district operations. As School Board member I will fervently advocate for making those tough choices while prioritizing the needs of students, just as I did as a member of the board in my previous two terms. Then, students faced overcrowded campuses, fewer instructional days and a district paralyzed by bureaucracy. As a member of the board from 1999 to 2007, I built a coalition of leaders in labor, business and local communities to overcome crowding, balance the district’s budget and improve academic performance. Prioritizing school site budgets in the coming years will be a key when facing an annual $500 million budget deficit or more.
Putting students first and balancing an underfunded budget (New York receives $29,000 per student and LAUSD only $16,000) by making tough and strategic choices MUST be the discussion moving forward. Child development and student achievement have been the focus of my career for over 40 years and I hope to bring that success and experience to the District 7 School Board seat once again. I hope I can have your support. Serious times require serious leaders – I thank you in advance for your consideration.