Riechel Reports - Events - City of San Bruno CA

2020 SBPSD School Board Candidate Questions 1 - 3




Article Source:  Riechel Reports' Editor Robert Riechel

Riechel Reports editor sent 10 questions to each of the 3 candidates running to fill 2 seats on the San Bruno Park School District Board of Directors in the November 2020 election.

Due to the number of questions and the length of some of the candidate answers, I will be posting blocks of 3 questions in a single post.  You will need to read 3 posts to read all of the answers provided.  The answers are not edited and if a candidate(s) does not provide an answer, the wording "Candidate Did Not Provide An Answer To This Question" will be inserted where his/her answer should have appeared .

Questions For Candidates Seeking Election To The SBPSD School Board

Below is the 3 candidates' answers to the questions 1 - 3

Q1. WHAT do you see is the role of the Trustee of a school district and the role of the Superintendent?

Answer - Jennifer Blanco
 

The role of a Trustee is to set the vision and goals of the district. Acting as a team, to represent and advocate on behalf of the community: students, parents, teachers, and staff. When doing this work we need to be inclusive of ALL stakeholders, especially parents representing our students in Special Education, English Language Learners, and Economically Disadvantaged.  In this role, we must prioritize the needs of our students and our public schools. 

The superintendent implements the school board's vision by making day-to-day decisions about educational programs, spending, staff, and facilities. The superintendent hires, supervises, and manages the central staff and principals. It’s the Superintendent’s responsibility to ensure all parents are invited to have a seat at the table.  

Answer - Andriana Shea

As defined by our own San Bruno Park School District Governing Board bylaws: “The Governing Board has been elected by the community to provide leadership and citizen oversight of the district.”

I am running for school board to help provide “leadership and citizen oversight of the district”. Our current board has allowed superintendents to do this and since we’ve had 3 superintendents in the last 3 years, we do not have strong leadership nor oversight. If we want to move our district forward, that must change. Leadership must come directly from our board in order to have any consistency and forward progress.

Furthermore, the bylaws continue to state: “The Board shall ensure that the district is responsive to the values, beliefs, and priorities of the community.”

The district cannot be responsive because there has never been an opportunity for the community to collectively formulate nor express their values, beliefs nor priorities. Hand selected committees with minimal public notice cannot formulate the values, beliefs and priorities of such a diverse community. I want to bring the community into the process so that we can have a district that truly represents us. Additionally, the district is often simply unresponsive (not answering calls, emails, public comments, etc). I believe that this disregard for the community is one of the main factors contributing to our declining enrollment. If we want to fix this problem, our district must be responsive to the community.

In short, a Trustee must be a representative and advocate of the community and must provide oversight and treat public dollars (and land) as they are: property of the public. A Superintendent’s role is to carry out the direction set forth by the Governing Board and be held accountable to the publicly elected Governing Board.

Answer - Bryan Vander Lugt

The Board serves to identify community priorities and to set policy that will achieve those priorities.  The Superintendent serves to leverage their expertise as the primary educational advisor to the Board in their decision making and manages the daily operations of the schools and staff.  Although there may be a natural tension between a governing Board and the Superintendent of a school district, it is indisputable that a professional, respectful relationship between the two is an essential component of a functional school system.  Most importantly, the Superintendent and the Board are both accountable to work collaboratively together to align around clear goals and strategies in order to ensure that our schools meet the needs of our students and community.  I believe that our Board, particularly in light of the high turnover in cabinet staffing, must take more accountability and ownership for moving our schools forward.

Q2. WHAT motivates your desire to have a seat on the SBPSD Board?

Answer - Jennifer Blanco

I am passionate about the success of all students in our community. 

  • I am inspired by Belle Air graduates such as Dr. Eva Durazo and feel it is imperative to empower our parents to navigate the public school system so that they may effectively advocate on behalf of their child
  • The success of our children is an essential piece in the continued success of our community
  • As a lifelong resident of San Bruno and a product of our public schools (Belle Air, Parkside, and Capuchino),  I have a personal connection and desire to see our city thrive.

 

  • I am a strong supporter of our teachers and school staff. It is necessary that teachers and staff feel respected and valued, their needs and concerns must be supported by our school board, and I will continue to support them receiving a living wage. I want all teachers and staff to feel proud to work in SBPSD.

Answer - Andriana Shea

 My children and the children of my neighbors motivate my desire to have a seat on the SBPSD Board. I have a child in Transitional Kindergarten and a child in 2nd grade. I have 9 years left in the district and I am not the type of person to sit back and wait for things to get better. As stated above, our Board lacks leadership and vision and I have the skill set necessary to provide both. I am also a collaborator and a unifier and with a divided board, those attributes are critical.

Answer - Bryan Vander Lugt

Quite simply, I believe that every child in San Bruno should have equitable access to a high-quality public education that prepares them for life.  Our schools could be exceptional.  To get there, we need change in our governing board.  I am stepping forward because I believe that I have the experience and qualifications to make a difference. 

Q3. WHAT is your experience/commitment to supporting the Board’s vision for Schools with Tomorrow Inside (facilities and educational transformation) and Portrait of a Graduate to define desired outcomes for SBPSD students?

Answer - Jennifer Blanco

First of all, I want the community to know, these two initiatives were developed by a former Superintendent. It is important to note that these visions have not yet in place and will be reviewed by our current Superintendent who will develop a plan.With the rebuild of Allen, I remain committed to building our students, teachers, and staff an innovative school, this is why I initiated and advocated entering into a Community Workforce Agreement (CWA) with the San Mateo County Building and Construction Trades Council which will build our community a well-built school on time with a union workforce.

With the Portrait of a Graduate, it is also important to understand the previous Superintendent did not present the Portrait of a Graduate with a plan to execute to the board.  I believe the Portrait of a Graduate has value. I also believe we can agree, we want our students to be a Communicator, a Contributor, a Collaborator, a Critical Thinker, be Creative & Innovative, and Compassionate. I look forward to collaborating with Mr. Espinoza, our teachers, staff, and community on this plan. 

Answer - Andriana Shea

I was a vocal advocate for Measure X, which was a bond that passed in 2018. I understood the need for additional dollars to fund the necessary facilities upgrades (we were the only community that hadn’t passed a bond and it was evidenced in our aging infrastructure). I am 100% supportive of 21st Century Schools, as touted in the Schools with Tomorrow Inside “vision”, but that vision needs to be accompanied with a plan. Rather than a three year old PowerPoint slide from two superintendents ago, we must redefine this vision in partnership with the community and then develop a plan that is approved by the board.

I was on the Portrait of a Graduate committee and am committed to this vision as well. We defined the six competencies that we want our Parkside graduates to have upon graduating from eighth grade. These include Creator and Innovator, Critical Thinker and Problem Solver, Communicator, Collaborator, Contributor and Compassionate. The problem is that in nearly two years, little progress has been made in implementing plans to achieve these competencies. The plan must be reviewed by our new superintendent, altered if necessary and then implemented

Answer - Bryan Vander Lugt

Like many parents, I was deeply concerned in 2015 with our school district’s dire financial circumstances.  I was cautiously hopeful when the Schools with Tomorrow Inside vision was first advanced to try and put our schools on a better path, though I have waited to see our Board map out a plan to achieve that vision.  The lack of a clearly defined plan to restore financial stability and modernize our classrooms now impairs our decision making and is negatively impacting our children and families.  I believe that delivering a clear plan, developed with community input, to transform our schools by 2025 should be one of the highest priorities of our Board.  When we work together we have been able to achieve some notable milestones including passage of the Measure X bond and creating the Portrait of Graduate, a guiding framework to reimagine how we instill 21st century life and career skills in our students.  I am proud to have contributed to both important accomplishments.


I plan to keep these 3 posts up until about 1 November 2020

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