Voters in South Monterey County will soon be choosing mayors, city council members and school board trustees in the upcoming Nov. 3 General Election. To help voters make an informed decision, Salinas Valley Tribune sent out a questionnaire to all the candidates running in contested races in King City, Greenfield, Soledad and Gonzales, asking for their stance on local issues. Read their responses below:
SOLEDAD UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Three board member positions will be decided for Soledad Unified School District, with incumbents Jess Barreras and Javier Galvan running for re-election against candidates Ivan Ibarra Mora and Roberto Ocampo. Only Barreras, Galvan and Mora responded to the paper’s questionnaire.
What do you hope to accomplish as a school board member?
BARRERAS: My ultimate goal would be to budget funds to accomplish things that we need to do, i.e. be competitive in our salary and benefits, update all school devices, build extra classrooms and all maintenance.
GALVAN: I will ensure ALL students receive a quality education by providing SUSD team members with the necessary tools and training for a successful educational experience. I will ensure students and teachers have updated technology, laptops, iPads and Wi-Fi internet service. During Distance Learning in particular, teachers and support staff will receive training to successfully navigate instructional platforms to support our students. Support staff will also receive training to assist students having difficulties or needing additional time. We will offer Wi-Fi hotspots and explore adding internet towers to ensure students have successful learning experiences. Distance Learning is a top priority for me.
MORA: As a School Board Member, I am hoping to elevate youth voice by ensuring they are part of every decision we make, including establishing Student Board Members. Similarly, our parent and community voice are vital, and as such, I hope we can establish a parent/community advisory council, that will assist in elevating parent and community input on district projects and initiatives. Lastly, a Family and Student Resource Center is something I will work diligently with my fellow School Board Members to establish, as it’s something deeply needed in our district.
Which issues and concerns will be your main focus within your school district?
BARRERAS: Finish updated and replacing jungle gym structures at the elementary schools, building shade structures at all schools and separating parent drop-offs and bus drop-offs to relieve the congestion and improve student safety.
GALVAN: My main focus is successful Distance Learning, excellent college and career course pathways, social-emotional learning, community engagement, and positive school culture and climate. Each area is critical for successful postsecondary student outcomes. We must ensure clearly articulated student Prek-12 outcomes and assessments with intervention and enrichment responses based on data. Expanding college/career courses with a focus on STEM, teaching, law, and career technical will allow students choices upon graduate. Social-emotional and mental health counseling are also critical for students in need. Engaging community with workshops and positive workplaces are also essential. I believe that focusing on these areas will allow our students to thrive.
MORA: Communication, outreach, and engagement of all our stakeholders, including students, parents, and community, are top of mind. Student mental health will be a central point of conversation, as we continue to expand our services. Teacher and Staff support is critical to developing an equitable and quality education, so I will work with our incredible educators to verify their needs are being met. Student success and opportunity will be a key focus, as we need to provide opportunities for all students, including academic, personal, and career success.
Why are you the best candidate to tackle those issues?
BARRERAS: I have served on the Board of Trustees for two years, and it was not enough time to accomplish all I wanted to do. Student safety and teacher environment are my priorities.
GALVAN: I am the best candidate because of my experience and leadership skills. I’ve been a trustee for five years and am the president. I lead and approve a balanced budget, encourage community engagement, advocate for social emotional counseling and structured educational programs. I am proud to engage stakeholders before approving policies/programs. I discuss and ask questions of individuals/groups and communicate by phone, text, or in-person. Parents, CTA, and CSEA members call me when issues arise and I meet to listen and understand how decisions affect them. This engagement helps me communicate with the district/fellow board members to ensure the best decisions are made for all.
MORA: As an alumnus who attended schools in Soledad, including being the first candidate to graduate from Soledad High School, I relate to the experience of so many of our students. Being a former teacher, who taught in this school district, I am all about student success and providing quality education to all our students. Currently, as a Director of Student Services for a Graduate School of Education, I get to support new teachers and various school districts throughout CA. And, as a community advocate that works directly with our youth, I am committed to ensuring youth voice is front and center of every decision we make.