Friday, October 15, 2010

Pacifica Elementary School District Candidates - Meet Joan Weideman

Text and picture from Pacifica Tribune online 10/14/10.

The Pacifica Tribune sent questionnaires to all four Pacifica School District Board candidates. Their responses are published in their entirety.

1. What is your background, training and experience that qualifies you to manage the affairs of the Pacifica School District.?Please include your occupation and any personal information you would like to share. Why are you running?  My qualifications include my successful track record serving on our school board, over 12 years as a volunteer supporting education in Pacifica, and skills I developed in management roles at Macy's. Through the great team work of school board members, administration, teachers, support personnel and parents, all schools in our district now have API (Academic Performance Index) of over 800, high performing by State standards. I have strongly supported our partnerships with local non-profits that bring resources into our schools: Our Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO), Rob Schneider Music Foundation, Pacifica School Volunteers, Spindrift School of Performing Arts,and Sanchez Art Center. I provided leadership in the Measure N campaign, which is providing crucial funding in the face of repeated budget cuts from the State. I encouraged the development of the Pacifica Education Foundation which has raised the money to launch a 21st Century learning skills program. I began working for education as a volunteer in my son's school, both in the classroom and in several PTO jobs, and serve on the board for Pacifica School Volunteers, supporting community volunteers helping kids in classrooms across Pacifica. At Macy's, I successfully managed personnel, budgets, and developed policies and procedures at the corporate level. I want to continue my work to make the school district the best it can be. My focus for the next four years will be to wisely allocate limited resources to not only maintain our educational programs but also continue to improve programs. I will continue to search for and secure additional resources to improve the educational environment and mitigate State budget cuts. I will continue to advocate at the County and State level to protect education. I will ensure that the buildings are maintained. I look forward to working with school staff and the community to ensure that our schools offer the every best education to every child.
2.  How can we make sure that positions that are eliminated, when brought back, will be filled by those who have lost their jobs in the district?   I really value the great teachers and staff in this district. It is through their hard work that we offer such a high quality education with a very limited budget. It's been painful to lose such great people as the State has cut our funding year after year. The Pacifica School District has had to make cuts every year since I have been on the board (2002), because of inadequate funding from the State. Once a job is cut, it is gone, unless we get money from a source other than the State. We have been given some temporary additional funding from the community and from the Federal stimulus money. We reached out to people who had lost their jobs and rehired them.

3.  What would you consider unwise parcel tax expenditures?  Any expenditure that is not provided for in the ballot language is unacceptable. I've been vigilant in my role on the school board making sure the money goes to the classroom. The Ballot Measure Language was: "To protect local elementary and middle schools from state budget cuts, maintain high quality education, preserve small class sizes, attract and retain qualified teachers, protect vital academic programs, and maintain classroom and school facilities, shall the Pacifica School District levy a temporary parcel tax of $96/ year for five years, with independent citizen oversight, an exemption for senior citizens, no funds used for administrator salaries and all funds staying in this community to promote student achievement." This year, the parcel tax was spent to retain 10-12 teachers (class size in K-3 is 1:24, many other districts are higher), retain the IBL Middle School counselor, hire a counselor for middle school students in K-8 schools and provide professional development for teachers in mathematics. All of these expenditures fulfill our commitment to the community to protect local schools from state budget cuts and maintain high quality education.

4.  What are the major issues facing the Pacifica School District?  Pacifica School District spends its money wisely to provide a top quality education to all students. Even though Pacifica School District is funded in the bottom 11 percent in the state, all our schools are high performing. Over the last 12 years, the district has addressed many major issues. The disparity between schools has almost been eliminated. In 1999, the gap between the highest and lowest performing schools was 214 (API) points. This year the gap is only 51 points. The special education program has been improved while reducing per student costs. All schools were fully modernized on time and on budget. The district has run efficiently and effectively. However, the current financial crisis and dysfunction of our state government is hampering us. The major issue facing our district is the dysfunction of our state government: inability to pass a timely budget that addresses both short and long term financial issues; delay in sending appropriated funds to our district; increasing state and federal mandates, laws and regulations that put a huge administrative burden on the district and hamstring our ability to make decisions at the local level to meet the needs of our community, and overall inadequate funding for education. I want to continue to serve on the school board to provide leadership to move our district forward while addressing issues both at the state and local level.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

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