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October 13, 2010     Cloverdale Reveille
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PAGE 14 -- WEDNESDAY, OCT. 13, 2010 4 CLOVERDALE REVEILLE CLOVERDALE, CALIFORNIA Cloverdale school board candidates respond to many tough questions By Neena Hanchett At the forum for school board can- didates held Tuesday, Oct. 5, mem- bers of the Teachers Association of Cloverdale: Anne Harris Gebb, teacher at Jefferson School; Hank Shaw, teacher at Washington School and Mark Luchetti, teacher at Clo- verdale High School, presented eight questions to the four school board candidates: Incumbent Jeanne Argyres, Brian Hemphill, Ed Bowen and Gene Lile. They were asked the following questions: What special strengths do you be- lieve you would bring to the school board? What responsibility does the dis- trict have to special needs stu- dents? What do you thing class size lim- its should be? What is your understanding of the collective bargaining process? How should the district budget be developed and administered? What do you do as a board mem- ber to guarantee adequate fund- ing of public education? What do you see as the most pressing challenges in our district and what ideas do you have for meeting those challenges? Sometimes the school board has issues come before it in which par- ents and teachers are at odds. What would you do in such an instance? The following will highlight and summarize the responses each candidate provided. Jeanne Argyres Special Strengths: I recently com- pleted Masters of Government pro- gram school board training which I recommend to all school board members. I am a sceptical person, with an ability to synthesize situa- tions and grasp the idea of future consequences. Because I speak Spanish, French and have lived in other cultures, I bring a depth of un- derstanding to the board. Special Education: If Special Edu- cation was funded as it is supposed to be, there wouldn't be a problem. I understand that we must serve stu- dents with special needs and we must make sure that those schools that our special needs students at- tend are accountable. How are those students really doing? It doesn't Candidates for school board, Joanne Argyres, left, Brian Hemphill, Ed Bowen Association of Cloverdale at the forum held on Tuesday, Oct. 5. make sense that a Physical Thera- pist in a Special Education prograra gets $675 per day. Our teachers don't get paid that. Many of our Spe- cial Education students have lan- guage problems. In Guatemala, young students who don't speak the language attend a school for two years just to learn the language. Class Size: It depends on the teacher and the nature of the class being taught. It would be helpfu ! if we could equalize classes based on student characteristics. A homoge- neous class is much easier to teach. Aides are necessary when.a teacher has 32 students. Collective Bargaining: I have a very good understanding of collec- tive bargaining. It provides a way to solve problems. But I object to the legal costs involved. Wouldn't it be better to have the attomeys review information rather than have them present at every meeting? District Budget: I think the dis- trict budget has been developed fair- ly well over the past few years versus when I was a teacher. There are monthly board meetings where questions get answered. Board members need training on how to look at the budget and so does the public. There should be time to look at the budget thoroughly ahead of time. It's very complicated. Adequate Funding: Twice as part of the Retired Teachers Association I have gone to Sacramento asking for funding for our students. We need to contact Mike Thompson. But the question is, "Do we value educated people?" It just seems as though children are not valued. We need to keep yelling and screaming for ade- quate funding for our schools. Pressing Challenges: We are fighting this terrible battle of stu- dent funding. Parents need to un- derstand that inter-district transfers diminish our community because Cloverdale schools lose those stu- dent dollars. I think our district is a good district. I've been in Clover- dale long enough to see that stu- dents go through our schools and do very well. We need more parental involvement and we need to encour- age more volunteers. Parent/Teacher Issues: The dis- trict needs to attempt to find a solu- tion and some common ground . Our job is to establish a climate of fair play and trust. Brian Hemphill Special Strengths: My strengths include the ability to establish prior- ities. I have experience operating within a budget and negotiating for funds if necessary with a history of also finding other creative sourc- es for funding. The community will see my strength of getting people together for our kids. We need people to remember that. It may be that everybody involved might need to give up a little something for a solution that will benefit our kids. Special Education: We owe ev- ery child in the district an educa- . tion. It is a tough situation and under-funded. I support efforts like bringing these students back to Cloverdale and bringing that money back into the district. We must make sure that the district and the students are getting their money's worth. Class Size: Class size is related to grade, according to research that I have done. The ideal class size from kindergarten through third grade because of the learn- ing fundamentals involved would be 18 students, up to about 25 in high school. Beyond that, it's chaos. Collective Bargaining: I have never been directly involved with collective bargaining, but from what I've observed, it's broken and has created a bureaucracy. I think the process has good inten- tions but I think there may be bet- ter and more effective ways to accomplish the same goals at a lower cost. District Budget: I think more board oversight is necessary. I feel an obligation to teachers and parents to scrutinize each line item in the budget. It would be a priority with me. We would be "feeling the pain equally." Adequate Funding: I would scrutinize the budget and spend- ing. The district loses money due to out of district transfers. I would pull them back. Our schools are required by law to educate the students in our community. We should continue to monitor tru- ancy and I support the bond mea- sure but I would like to take a closer look at those projects. As a district we need to be active in the community and I believe there are larger businesses in the commu- nity which could help fund our schools but they've not been asked to help. We need to look at funding for our schools from out- side sources. Pressing Challenges: The bud- get is foremost. But also the grow- ing ESL presence in the classroom. I know that full im- mersion is the goal, but I'm not sure if the classroom is the best and Gene Lile answered a series of eight questions posed by the Teachers place to do it. We need to limit class sizes and get good teachers back to work. The state has tied our hands to some degree. We need to find common ground and remind each other that we are here for our chil- dren. Parent/Teacher Issues: The best interest of the district has to come first. We need well defined policies and need to be able to provide fur- ther explanation to the disgruntled party. Ed Bowen Special Strengths: I've had the re- sponsibility of 18 offices and 200 employees and have the ability to work with a diverse group of people working together for a common goal. I can hit the ground running. I understand the budget process and have dealt with unions in the past. I also have sought the opinions and understand the attitudes of teachers and others in the district. Special Fcation: We have an extensive bucr,.for special needs students, what responsibility do we have for middle-of-th'-road stu- dents and exceptional students? Class Size: The large numbers of students at Jefferson School, 32 to 33 students with no aide. It's almost ridiculous to try and get them to fo- cus. For kindergarten to third, the ideal class size is 20-22; grades four through six, 25 students; and 25-27 in junior high and high school. Stu- dents have differing needs and our teachers know they are not meeting the needs of those kids. Collective Bargaining: When col- lective bargaining works, it works very well. It's the legal system that seems to get in the way. I'm certain that it could work better and we could solve problems more cost ef- fectively and the process has to work for both sides. District Budget: The board needs to be involved in the budget process. The budget needs to be approved by consensus so every party concemed needs to be involved. The more in- put the district has, the better the outcome. The bottom line is the stu- dent. Adequate Funding: Districts need to band together; Cloverdale, Gey- serville, Healdsburg, we have to stand up to the state. We are not going to let this continue to hap- pen." We have to start somewhere by getting the message to the state that this group of school districts is not going to do this any longer. Pressing Challenges: Funding, class size, declining enrollment, in- ter-district transfers, to name a few. We need solid volunteer support with a coordinator. Our students are able to compete. I know because pre- vious students have come back to let the community know how valuable the education they received in Clo- verdale schools was for them. Parent/Teacher Issues: All parties have to understand the policies, but I would like to see the policies have some "wiggle room." It's a difficult thing, but we have to make sure the policy in question is fully under- stood, and that all steps have been followed before it gets to the board. Also the application of that policy has to be consistent. Gene Lile Special Strengths: My connection to the community. I have been in education for 29 years. I am in- volved with the CARE Foundation and Kiwanis raising money for stu- dents and also can work to further the district's goals in the communi- ty. I understand the budget and have experience as both a teacher and an administrator. I also under- stand and have worked with the col- laborative Professional Learning Community model where teachers work together to foster student learning. Special Education: Special Edu- cation is a big responsibility because it is Federal law. We have to meet that criteria. I commend the board for bringing students back to Clo- verdale rather than transporting them to Santa Rosa. We need to continue to be creative in bringing Special Education students back to the district. Class Size: My target would be 25 students per class up to the fourth grade; 28 students in middle school and 30 to 32 in high school. But we also have to consider what we can afford. I would love to limit class sizes to 25 for all grades, but I don't think that's going to happen. Collective Bargaining: I've had experience on both sides of the col- lective bargaining process. It is probably the best possible means to reach an agreement. I do object to the amount of time teachers are out of the classroom. I think an agree- ment could be reached sooner if meetings were held on Saturdays. District Budget: Transparency is a big factor. There needs to be a dis- trict-wide budget committee and the process needs to start early. Every- one needs to understand the termi- nology and where the funds come from and how they can be used. I don't think things are going to get any easier and we'll have to scruti- nize each expenditure. Adequate Funding: There is a co- alition of eight school districts who have instigated a lawsuit demand- ing that education receive adequate funding. I was surprised that Clo- verdale wasn't one of the districts. We have to link arms and go to the state. We can also pass the upcom- ing bond. That will help. We also need to examine consolidating school districts. Pressing Challenges: Funding is the most pressing challenge. We need to pass the Measure G. We also need to look at the budget for expen- ditures that do not impact student learning as well as deal with the number of students going outside the district. Class sizes also need to be reduced. Parent/Teacher Issues: We need to make sure that all steps gave been taken at the site level and rely on the principal to mediate between par- ents and teachers but the board needs to do what is best for the whole school. Gail C. 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