Monday, September 20, 2010

Pacifica Elementary School Board Candidates Forum

Pacifica Democrats public forum, 9/18/10 (a follow-up report)

Elementary School Board terms are 4 years, this year 3 candidates will be elected to these positions.  From the forum....

Are incumbent candidate school board members accountable? 
They are.  During their tenure, Mike O'Neill and Joan Weideman have been part of a school district board where children achievement scores have improved substantially to be counted the top 20% (API over 800), while district funding from the State has remained in the lowest 11%.  Buildings have transitioned to being maintained, and our"special education" program has become "a model for the country" (San Mateo Grand Jury).

Candidates agree on these issues
1.  Operational:  1) Continuing to improve funding and budget distribution (optimizing use of money), 2) maintaining class size and staff level if possible, 3) keep special education programs local (better for children and cost effective), 4) maintaining buildings (deterioration costs more and is a safety issue, 5) seek funding sources where possible (to improve requires effort), 6) advocate for children (primary focus is on our children).  
2.  Philosophical.  1) a healthy Democracy requires educated citizens, 2) children should achieve their best attainable level, 3) charter and religious schools which receive federal money should be accountable through testing and oversight the same as public schools. 

Candidate individual leadership focus

1.  Mike O'Neill, current School Board member, 12 years.  Maintain district buildings, and gain revenue from leased building space (last year's revenue was $200,000).  He advocate  for practical improvement solutions, including those which have advantage the future.   
2.  Joan Weideman, current School Board member, 8 years.  Improve educator professional development, co-chair of Measure N parcel tax, supports supplementary community partnerships for music and arts grant funding, also advocates at State level. 
3.  Kalimah Salahuddin, President/founder "Saving Pacifica Schools", member of "special education" advisory committee to the school board.  Improve parent involvement and accountability. She supports "special education" as education (not separate), also advocates at State level. 
4.  Richard Faust
, Saving Pacifica Schools.  Other leadership and advocacy is unknown to me, he was not able to attend this forum. 

Candidate signature comments.  "We are committed to kids...and working together" (Mike O'Neill). "What are the challenges, and how do we make it right?" (Joan Weideman), "Get parents involved, work as a unit (not piecemeal)" Kalimah Salahuddin.  

My observation and viewpoint
.  This forum was almost as inspiring as "church", while avoiding all the hugs. All 3 candidates who participated are a huge credit to our community, to be admired for their essential child advocacy and foundational work.
This forum was one of the best I've seen in Pacifica, made better by the school district budget/financial and candidate judgment questions poised by moderator Barbara Arietta. Re-election of Mike O'Neill and Joan Weideman "accountable incumbents" is an easy choice. I also liked Kalimah Salahuddin, she may be my 3rd vote.  Hopefully we will also hear from Richard Faust. 

Other Elementary School Board Candidates Forums you may wish to attend 
September 20th, 2010, Sunset Ridge Elementary School, 340 Inverness Drive, 7pm to 9pm: 
September 30th, 2010, Cabrillo School, 601 Crespi Drive, 7pm to 9pm.

Posted by Kathy Meeh



Heather Tanner said...

Richard Faust's kids go to my kids' school - Ocean Shore. He has been very committed/involved in the school, giving many hours of his time. He is a great guy and would be excellent on the school board. He really cares!

He is also a fireman here in Pacifica. Very, very good guy.

Anonymous said...

I will vote for the fireman. Forget the rest, they are the same old same old bs.

Kathy Meeh said...

Anon @ 9:19AM, during the tenure of these incumbents apparently you missed the part where they have been "accountable": top 20% achievement, although in the our district schools are subject to the lowest 11% of state funding. "Special education" has made a significant improvement thanks to all 3 candidates. School buildings are now being maintained, and unused space is being leased-out. This "same-old" sounds like a winner to me.

Since you will "vote for for the fireman", tell us about him, or ask him to post directly.

Anonymous said...

I do like how old facilities are being rented out and creating revenue. We just need to take neighborhoods into consideration, I think that is being done and needs to be continued. Less traffic on our neighborhood streets the better. This is where bike lanes everywhere would be a good idea. Lease to groups/organizations/small business that will benefit community and are assets to neighborhoods.

What and where are the challenges? Sticking to reading, writing, rithmatic. Schools seem to venture off in other places where they do not belong. Like having our children protesting in the street for more money. BIG NO NO!

Keeping parents involved? Majority of us are involved. Sometimes we just want to let teachers do their job and teach. Stick to teaching and stop the preaching.

Anonymous said...

If the state would provide adequate funding for public education, then there would be no need for "our children" to protest.

And there is nothing wrong with kids actively learning about their First Amendment rights.

Finally, studies have consistently shown that schools that have high levels of parental involvement are more successful.