Riechel Reports - Events - City of San Bruno CA

2020 SBPSD School Board Candidate Questions 7 - 10

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 7 - 10

Q7. WHAT experience will you bring to the conversation regarding equitable education for all students, especially given the circumstances around the current pandemic?

Answer - Jennifer Blanco


For years I have been actively researching all matters brought to the Board’s attention. I spend considerable time speaking with the community, teachers, and staff to understand the needs of our students. Additionally, I seek out information and experiences from multiple other sources including Board members and Administrators from other school districts, members of the San Mateo Board of Education, California Department of Education, CSBA, and California Latino School Board Association (CLSBA). Now more than ever, it is imperative that each trustee invests time in researching and trulyunderstanding the core issues of our district. These issues have been magnified by the Cornonavirus Pandemic; as a trustee, I have advocated and voted to support programs that impact our most vulnerable students and families.

For years, I have advocated to ensure Internet access for students who would otherwise not have it in their homes. I strongly feel that this access is a necessity for our students’ education and should be treated as such. San Bruno Cable and YouTube/Google have partnered with the SBPSD to ensure access. Because of the Pandemic, these services are being offered at a low cost or no cost to the families. Currently, Mr. Espinoza and I are working on a resolution and a plan to ensure all students continue to have access to both a device and Internet services after virtual learning has concluded. 

Answer - Andriana Shea

I joined the governing board of the San Bruno Education Foundation because my priority is equity for all students. I drove the early conversations regarding the need to provide equipment and internet access to close the digital divide. Even with equipment, equity is still an issue. Some children’s circumstances do not lend to distance learning (English Language Learners, students in Special Education, homeless youth, etc). Some families do not have the support system that is necessary to implement distance learning from home (both parents working outside of the home, lack of experience with digital tools, multiple children requiring support at the same time, etc). There is no easy solution, but we must continue the dialogue around the support needed for our most vulnerable students.

Answer - Bryan Vander Lugt

I joined the Board of the San Bruno Education Foundation three years ago because I am a passionate believer that EVERY child in San Bruno should have equitable access to a high-quality public education.  I have devoted hundreds of volunteer hours to engage our community in discussions around how best to support our students, particularly those without the benefit of having been born into socioeconomically advantaged families.  I have worked diligently to build relationships and community partnerships that equitably support education enrichment initiatives.  I am particularly proud of my modest role in helping organize the community response to the acute shift to remote learning, working with civic, business, and philanthropic community leaders to quickly raise over $300,000 to support technology and equipment for our students and staff.  I look forward to growing these invaluable community partnerships.

Q8. WHAT is your educational background or work experience that has prepared you to serve on the SBPSD Board?

Answer - Jennifer Blanco

Serving as an SBPSD Trustee has been an amazing experience, I have had the honor and privilege in serving our community. Over the years I have gained both practical experience and knowledge that is essential to be an effective trustee; including understanding board bylaws, the California Education Code, and thorough research.

Prior to my time serving on the board, I was a founding member of the San Bruno Education Foundation (SBEF), and was very involved in the PTA at the school, district, and county level. Additionally, I was appointed by the City Council to serve as one of the first Culture and Arts Commissioners. As a lifelong San Bruno resident, I have formed decades-long relationships with community members, teachers, and staff; I have a deep understanding of our community needs.

Answer - Andriana Shea

One of the areas where there is the most room for improvement in our district is communication. I have a Bachelors of Science degree in Marketing, a professional background in marketing and communications and have headed up the communications committee for the San Bruno Education Foundation. I know I can have a positive impact in developing a communications plan and providing the oversight in implementing it.

Additionally, I have worked in and led cross-functional teams throughout my career. I am skilled at working collaboratively and productively with people of all styles and backgrounds. That is even the case in this election. I have a respectful working relationship with both of my opponents and would be able to work with either of them. With a divided and contentious board, these skills are critical.

Answer - Bryan Vander Lugt

I am a devoted lifelong learner.  While completing my Ph.D. studies at Harvard I had the incredible opportunity to teach for several years, which I believe provides me with some insight into what our teachers need to succeed.  My years of military service prepared me with invaluable leadership lessons that I hope to bring to our Board.  My professional work as a scientist in the biotechnology industry gives me awareness of the skillsets our students will need to compete in the 21st century workforce – including collaboration skills.  I have served our community, especially our youth, through years of volunteer work including coaching AYSO soccer and baseball.  I have gotten to know our schools’ needs and opportunities through years of volunteer work in various school committees and on the Board of the San Bruno Education Foundation.

Q9. There has been an exodus of superintendents from SBPSD. HOW will you support the new Superintendent?

Answer - Jennifer Blanco

I believe that it is important to view the relationship between the school board and the superintendent as a partnership. Although the board selects and hires the Superintendent, it is the responsibility of the board to hold the Superintendent accountable. 

It is important to work as a team to carry out the goals and vision set by the board. Both are working for the betterment of our school district and need to support each other to ensure the best outcome for our students and community. I have been working closely with Mr. Espinoza on multiple programs since he joined the district; I appreciate how supportive and collaborative our relationship is. 

Answer - Andriana Shea

Having had experience managing people and teams, I know that a clear communication of expectations is absolutely necessary. Respectful, collaborative discussions around issues and priorities are critical. I will support the new Superintendent by clearly communicating my expectations and respectfully providing feedback. As a conduit to the community, I will share feedback I am receiving from my constituents and families in the district and help develop solutions and alternate plans as necessary.

Answer - Bryan Vander Lugt

We cannot move our schools forward unless we change the culture within our school district.  That change needs to start with our leadership.  We must cultivate an environment of respectful and collaborative communication.  We must ensure alignment between the Board and Superintendent with clearly defined and prioritized goals for success.  The Board must take an active role in charting a path to success and must share ownership and accountability with the Superintendent for providing our children and our community with the schools they deserve.  If elected, I expect to be held accountable to these minimum standards.

Q10. Building strong community partnerships is critical to the success of the school district.

What is your experience in building community partnerships and collaborative relationships to promote the welfare of youth?

Answer - Jennifer Blanco

I agree building strong community partnerships is essential to the success of our district.  I have been the driving force with the support of the board on the success of Children’s Day, Book Day is also known as Día de los niños, Día de los libros. All have come to be traditions in our community.  Partnerships and sponsors such as, but not limited to: North County Project Read, Tri-Counties Bank, San Mateo County First 5 Commission, San Bruno Parents Club, San Mateo Credit Union, San Mateo County WIC and Dental Program, the Sammut Family Foundation, San Bruno Lions and Rotary Clubs, San Bruno Recology, San Bruno City Library, Parks and Recreation, Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, San Bruno Education Foundation, San Bruno Fire and Police Departments, and various cultural performers. I strongly believe in empowering our parents.  The third priority of the Local Control Funding Formula is Parent Engagement, therefore implementing the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) and Parents Helping Parents (PHP). 

Answer - Andriana Shea

I have helped support the work of strong community partnerships by working on the board of one of the district’s community partners, the San Bruno Education Foundation. As a foundation, in addition to working collaboratively with the school district, we also work with other community partners like the San Bruno Lions, San Bruno Rotary, San Bruno Parent’s Club, San Bruno Community Foundation and others. As in my professional career, I am able to collaborate and problem solve with a variety of entities. When issues arise, I am able to remove my ego from the situation to maintain the positive working relationship centered around achieving a common goal, which is promoting the welfare of our youth.

Answer - Bryan Vander Lugt

Over years of working in our community to support our schools, I have learned that San Bruno is a community that cares deeply about our children and their education.  One of my top priorities while serving on the Board of the San Bruno Education Foundation (SBEF) has been to build community connections and to expand the ecosystem of support for our schools.  I am proud of my work with the San Bruno Community Foundation to help implement their Music Education Strategic Initiative, a national award-winning program to provide equitable access to high quality music education for every student.  Through building strong partnerships with our civic, business, and philanthropic community leaders the SBEF budget grew approximately 10-fold over my tenure and enabled us to support impactful district-wide education enrichment programs.  I believe education takes a village and that we need leadership in our governing board that can bring our village together for our children.

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


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