We asked all five candidates for the Castro Valley Unified School District Board of Directors to answer the same questions in their blog post: What do you view as the biggest challenge (or challenges) facing CVUSD now, and how will you work to address it (them) in the next four years?
Our schools in CVUSD are great. How do we make them better? We must address the challenges facing the district in a manner that provides a seat at the table for all. There are five challenges I feel CVUSD is facing now.
The first is how we communicate. Communication and understanding are key to ensuring successful solutions that take into account diverse needs and understanding. I think we can do better. Talking with folks in the community over these last few months, they don’t always feel heard or don’t feel comfortable bringing up issues. I will address this by ensuring the decisions and actions of the Board include a seat at the table for all. This will help the Board take into account diverse opinions so that our decisions will be more effective and longer lasting.
The second is how to efficiently and effectively manage Measure G funds. We need to take a hard look at which facilities need to be structurally modified and ensure that the contractors we use are qualified, perform the work in accordance with safety and environmental laws and regulations, and do not overcharge the district for services. Given my experience as an environmental professional reviewing impacts from construction and obtaining contractors for services, I feel I bring unique skills to ensure that our facilities construction activities are performed correctly and within budget.
The third challenge the district is facing is how we can functionally adapt to growing diversity within our student body. As our community diversifies, so should the diversity in our leaders, teachers, and staff. In addition, I would like to look at alternative ways to help students, their parents, and employees of the district understand and relate to the diversity that makes Castro Valley such a beautiful place to live. I want to accomplish this by helping facilitate multilingual communications to parents, finding ways to advertise our job opportunities to attract a diverse pool of applicants, and looking at ways we can facilitate diversity programs at our schools.
The fourth challenge we face as a community is attracting and maintaining staff. Castro Valley is a wonderful community which is known for its great schools. We must invest in our students and ensure that they are being taught by the best and brightest. Sadly, many of our wonderful teachers cannot afford to live in the same community that they work in. Many surrounding school districts better compensate teachers and as a result many CVUSD employees have left our community to teach elsewhere. If elected, I will work to take a hard look at the budget to invest in attracting and maintaining a talented pool of teachers and staff.
Lastly, not every kid will go on to a four year university. We need to support each student by providing them building blocks to develop and help them set and obtain their goals. I want to look at alternative ways to partner with Bay Area companies to provide a pathway to training and employment. This would give these non-traditional students options that they would not have known about or considered. A path that could potentially shape their futures in a positive way and help them feel supported through their journey.
All in all, I will work with the community to assess the many trade-offs CVUSD faces when evaluating the budget and ensure intelligent choices are made. Investing in our schools will continue to make Castro Valley an attractive community for families to stay and appeal to other families to move to, furthering the economic vitality of the area and providing an enriching learning environment for all.
Campaign web site: www.whitakerforcv.com