Riechel Reports - Events - City of San Bruno CA

2020 SBPSD School Board Candidate Questions 4 - 6

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 4 - 6

Q4. The Board is expected to rule by consensus; that is, that each Trustee supports the majority vote with a “we” and not an “I” focus. Please GIVE some examples of situations you have been in when the outcome of a vote was not your preference, but you demonstrated support for the majority vote.

Answer - Jennifer Blanco

I believe that Trustees support the majority vote of our community as opposed to the majority of the board. It is very important that each trustee understands the policies and decisions being voted on and to make their decision based on facts and what is best for the district. As the saying goes, it is important to stand for what’s right even if you stand alone. I have, at times, voted in opposition of the majority. However, it is my role as a member of the Board to execute the majority vote which I have done.


The recent issue of the Acellus Online Academy is one example of when I was not in the initial majority. I felt it was important to advocate for the community and their values in the education of our children. My goal was to ensure families were heard and understood. I also wanted to ensure that trustees and staff were aware of published reports of issues with the Acellus Online Academy, lack of CA Department of Education adoption, as well as the very controversial history of its founder. To vote responsibly a trustee must have a complete picture of the issue at hand and be willing to make an informed, independent vote (rather than following the crowd and falling into the trap of groupthink).

Answer - Andriana Shea

The Board is expected to rule by consensus; that is, that each Trustee supports the majority vote with a “we” and not an “I” focus. Please GIVE some examples of situations you have been in when the outcome of a vote was not your preference, but you demonstrated support for the majority vote.

Achieving consensus is all about negotiation and compromise. I do this routinely in my professional life and during my time on the Board of the San Bruno Education Foundation (SBEF). There have been plenty of circumstances that the final outcome was not my initial preference, but I have always been able to adapt and continue the work. One example of my ability to work with others is the rebranded SBEF logo, my first choice was not favored but this project wasn’t just about me and my choice. I adapted and compromised and developed a logo that was representative of all members of the SBEF Board’s vision.

Answer - Bryan Vander Lugt

I know the value of bringing diverse perspectives and disconfirming information into decision making, particularly for the kinds of difficult decisions facing our schools, from my professional and volunteer work.  The authority and leadership of the Board, nonetheless, rests exclusively with the consensus vote.  I know and respect the consensus process from my previous Board experience, including the Board of the San Bruno Education Foundation.  I have occasionally taken a position outside the majority but have always respected the consensus process and the value of my colleagues’ different views.  If elected to the school board, you will not hear me celebrate my individual votes when they are not aligned with the consensus.  If I sincerely believe that my position is in the best interests of our children and our community, I will do the hard work and make every attempt to persuade and build consensus among my fellow Trustees.  I will regard it as my own failure if I am unable to do so.

Q5. The California School Boards Association and San Mateo County School Boards Association encourage Trustees to complete Governance Training. If you are running for school board for the first time, do you commit to this training? If you are an incumbent, what governance training courses have you completed?

Answer - Jennifer Blanco 

As an incumbent, I continue to learn and grow as a trustee. The district pays membership dues so that we can fully utilize the services the California School Boards Association (CSBA) offers. I have attended several CSBA conventions and workshops; selecting content based on current district initiatives and have completed the Board President Workshop. I remain committed to continuing to learn and be familiar with educational advancements and best practices.

Answer - Andriana Shea

I am running for school board for the first time and am committed to this training. I have already begun the Ed100 courses and will take all of the training that I can get because I know that knowledge will make me a stronger board member.

Answer - Bryan Vander Lugt

Restoring professional, respectful governance to our school board is critical.  I look forward to all relevant training.

Q6. WHAT is the most important matter for the Board to be addressing at this time?

Answer - Jennifer Blanco

The Board has many pressing matters currently; many of which are magnified by the Coronavirus Pandemic. The most important matter is a safe return to school plan address accountability, educational equity, increases to the achievement gap, parent engagement, safety, and social-emotional needs of all students.

Answer - Andriana Shea

The most important matter that the Board must address at this time is our new educational reality of distance learning in the midst of a global pandemic. How are our children doing? How are our teachers and staff doing? How are our families doing? We must ask these questions and be ready to pivot if the answers are undesirable. This is a fluid situation and we need to remain flexible and respond to the needs of our students and staff.

Additionally, have we developed the plan that will trigger a switch to a hybrid model (part in person, part distance learning)? What is that plan and how will the community be notified? What does the hybrid model look like? What happens if there is a positive COVID case? There are still a lot of unknowns and while I know that district staff is working on this process, distance learning and the transition to hybrid learning must be a priority of the board as well.

Answer - Bryan Vander Lugt

Protecting the safety of our children and our staff during the COVID-19 pandemic while we adapt and innovate our means of providing education to our students should be the foremost consideration for our Board.  We must also aggressively ensure that every child is supported during these challenging times with equitable access to their digital classrooms, flexibility for diverse learning styles and individual needs, and support for their mental as well as physical wellbeing. 

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


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