I am a district parent, small business owner, and experienced corporate executive and advisor. For years, I have helped companies and leaders solve tough problems and evolve to their next stage of growth, and I bring important and unique skills to the SMFCSD board that will accelerate our ability to challenge what has been with what is possible and necessary for all 12,000 of our children.
As a Board Trustee, I will focus on:
Action for equity & inclusion
I commit to ensuring we have meaningful funding and measurable programs to improve equity & inclusion and the opportunity gap in our district.
TEACHER & Staff
I commit to ensuring we have a comprehensive program that understands why educators & staff leave, works to close those gaps, and helps them live near the communities which they serve.
Planning for growth & change
I commit to ensuring we work with our cities and neighbors to plan for the effects of development & growth in our communities and ensure safe and healthy school environments.
I commit to looking at every decision from the standpoint of a healthy, balanced budget and clear accountability and transparency around what success looks like for our students.
Keeping the focus on what's best for all of our kids.
When I first started attending board meetings during my son's Kindergarten year, the first questions I asked those around me were tied to budget and program efficacy. I asked questions like - How much are we allocating per student to reading intervention, and how do we know this investment is working? What is the benchmark for the necessary investment in reading intervention to improve certain cohorts of the student population? How has the investment in reading intervention changed over time, and how have those investments changed outcomes for our students?
In reading the 192-page budget and the several hundred-page Local Control Accountability Plan, I found some answers to my questions. For other questions, it is much harder to connect the dots between Why, What, How, and Results.
Transparency is more than clear and concise information. It is the willingness and ability to have an open conversation about what is happening, why it is happening, what we are doing about it, and how we are performing against our goals. Transparency is also about translating the complex into consumable information so that all stakeholders can participate in the conversation. This is the pattern of business I have established in every role I have taken on in my professional career regardless of the starting point, and I believe this skill is a unique and necessary addition that I will add to the school board.
I commit to looking at every decision from the standpoint of a healthy, balanced budget with clear accountability and transparency around what success looks like for our students.
planning for growth & change
With 2040 planning well underway, we need to work in collaboration with our city councils to ensure that we are effectively planning for the impacts of growth to our school district.
Additionally, year after year we are experiencing more intensely hot days. It was heartbreaking to hear educators across the district last year talk about their classrooms being well over 90 degrees Fahrenheit for days at a time and not being able to do anything about it. This year during Back-to-School Night, it was 90 degrees at 6:30 pm with the classroom doors open. How hot do you think it was inside that classroom at 1 pm when our kids were being asked to learn how to read?
The effects of our aging infrastructure are especially felt with the increasing number of poor air quality days we have in the Bay Area due to fire or other situations driving particulates and chemicals into the air.
As a Board Trustee, my role will be to guide the prioritization of issues for the district to research and understand the most viable move-forward plans. Planning for growth, overheating classrooms, and extremes in air quality are serious issues that must make it beyond board agendas and into action. I commit to ensuring we work with our cities and neighbors to plan for the effects of development & growth in our communities and ensure safe and healthy school environments.
Our son's school has had 5, many argue 6, principals in the last 7 years. As challenging and disruptive this situation was for our school, perhaps the worst part of it is that we aren't the only school in our district that has experienced extraordinary turnover in site leadership, educators, and classified staff. These are trusted adults that our children build relationships with year after year, and it matters a lot when the good ones go.
As Chief Customer Officer and advisor, I've both led and advised efforts to diagnose why employees and customers leave organizations and support getting a plan in place to stop the leaky bucket. I say "leaky bucket" for a few reasons. First, when water keeps leaking, something is going on with the bucket itself, and almost always takes a lot more than a survey to understand what's going on under the covers. The second reason I say "leaky bucket" is because it is extremely expensive to keep recruiting and hiring new teachers and staff - it's expensive for taxpayers, for students, for parents, for culture, and for retaining important institutional knowledge for how to get things done and best help our children succeed. The longer this continues, the more water flows and the bigger the hole in the bucket gets.
Here's the thing - we aren't the only ones experiencing this challenge. And yes, we do need to do our research to verify this, but housing affordability and cost of living are obvious primary or secondary culprits. A first-year educator makes 25% more than the state average in our school district - this alone is not the problem. The real problem is that the cost of living here is 200+% higher than the state average. The compounding effect of wages relative to cost of living is happening all around us, and there is no reason as to why we need to be solving this problem on our own. It is a well-understood phenomenon and we need to fix this with tools that have been proven to accelerate change.
I know what it takes to bring multiple stakeholders with very different goals to the table, and guide to a plan that focuses on a shared common goal. For us, it's our kids and providing them with the best education we can while they are in our schools. I commit to ensuring we have a comprehensive program that understands why educators & staff leave, works to close those gaps, and helps them live near the communities which they serve.
Action for equity & inclusion
With a majority of our Board Trustees favoring an Equity Resolution and in support of the formation of an Equity Task Force in early 2018, our school district now has the ability to put into action key recommendations for how to bring a vision of Equity to life in SMFCSD. What remains to be discussed, negotiated, and approved are:
- what actual funding support looks like,
- what kinds of collaborative efforts need to be designed into the overall equity strategy, and
- what the priorities are for what the district is going to address first, and why.
This is an important conversation that needs to have a spotlight shined on it. The equity conversation has been coming up for several years now, with a committee like the equity task force in place as recently as 2012-2015 delivering recommendations on how to increase equity in our schools. We have a lot of work left to do, and I commit to ensuring we have meaningful funding and measurable programs to improve equity & inclusion and the opportunity gap in our district.