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By The Capistrano Dispatch

We asked the candidates:

The relationship between the board, teachers, school administrators, parents and students has often been strained. The relationship within the board itself has shown to be fractious at times. Do you feel that the opinions and needs of all parties involved are considered equally in the decision-making process? What steps should be taken to improve these relationships? There has also been criticism that there isn’t enough transparency with the district. If this is an issue, what can be done to improve transparency and increase constructive dialogue?

Here are the candidates’ responses in the order in which their names will appear on the November ballot:

TRUSTEE AREA 1

Karin Schnell
Community Volunteer

Relationships between the various CUSD community entities have been challenging over the years. One of the noticeable improvements that the district is doing better is due to the effective administrative leadership of Superintendent Dr. Joe Farley. There is a strong communication structure in place to inform and engage both internal and external stakeholders in setting and achieving district goals. There is an open door policy between the teachers, students, parents, board and community with the superintendent serving as the catalyst to facilitate these lines of communication.

The board has been traditionally split along two sides, “them” and “us.” Fortunately some of the board members have been capable of working toward decisions that all can support and are willing to compromise to achieve goals. Ideally the board president sets the tone for an open dialogue among each of the board members to work in an effective manner.

Transparency encompasses both how the taxpayer’s money is spent and how decisions are made by the board with recommendations from the district administration. We must ensure that all decisions are made in the open and on the record. Ways to improve this line of transparency include publishing information online, such as the detailed budget information presented at board and community forums. Constituents should be able to review and question any decision that has been made and encouraged to comment and become involved at board meetings.

Amy Hanacek
Small Business Owner

An effective board member recognizes and respects the differences in perspective, opinions and style among parents, community, staff, students and fellow board members. Informed and productive decisions are reached by considering all view points and interests. Opportunities exist and will continue to be promoted for parents and community members to provide input and feedback through the superintendent’s community forums, various school site committees and parent organizations. Developing and conducting parent education forums assist parents in better understanding the academic, social and developmental issues of their students’ pre-school through 12th grade education. Promoting and maintaining a positive and cohesive environment from the district level to the school site will foster open and ongoing communication where concerns are addressed as professionally and expediently as possible. Closed session discussions should be limited to issues where the security and privacy of students or staff need to be protected.

TRUSTEE AREA 2

Michele Taylor-Bible
Community Volunteer

The relationship between the board, community, administration and teachers has been strained for as long as I can remember. That does not do the students any good considering that is what everyone is here for. It creates a negative environment that trickles down to the kids. The board should be more transparent on what the issues are. However, on the other hand, because of the litigious state and world we live in, there are times that the board cannot be so open about certain things until an appropriate time. The community and the board should be more open when communicating with each other.

Carol L. McCormick
Community Volunteer

Productive relationships require respect. Each board member brings different experiences and perspectives with them. Healthy discussions are often times a necessary part of the decision-making process. I welcome open and frank discussions. Board meetings are public meetings and all business that is not subject to confidentiality mandates should be conducted before the public.

Board members must never lose sight of our mission when doing the business of the district, which is to provide a quality education to the students of CUSD. Board members are elected to serve all children in the district and to create positive learning opportunities that encourage outstanding achievement. Respectfully maintaining this focus will lead to successful decision-making.

Input from all stakeholders is a valued contribution to decision making by a school board. Students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members should be afforded ample opportunities to provide information and to comment.

I have served on a variety of school- and district-level committees in the past decade as a parent leader. In these lean times, the district will need to seek support from our parent and community leaders to assist with a wide range of needs. As a board member, I welcome the opportunity to learn from my community and will support the superintendent in his efforts to reach out to our communities through his series of forums.

Don Franklin Richardson
Public School Teacher

Did not submit a response.

Jim Reardon
Business Owner/Engineer

In difficult financial times, relationships among adults are naturally strained. Our leaders are obligated to behave as adults and serve as examples for our students and the community. The present board majority put the demands of the union that elected them ahead of the needs of our students. The result is a disastrous “all-cuts” reduction in school programs that directly affects students. This must be corrected. The negotiating table is the appropriate place to work on solutions that restore our school year, preserve school enrichment programs like art and the sciences, reduce class size and improve the morale and recognition of the dedicated members of our workforce. To restore trust in CUSD, I will push to televise board meetings and maintain recordings of closed-session meetings.

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