November 3, 2006

Many issues in San Ysidro schools board race

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

Although there’s finally a degree of stability at the San Ysidro School District, several of the candidates to the governing board agree that there’s still a lot to be done when it comes to giving students a better education.

After several turbulent years, the school district has had the same superintendent, Tim Allen, for more than two years. Before him, the district seemed to be on a roller coaster.

His predecessor, Dr. Jorge Parra, had been fired by the board in early 2004. Later that year, two board members, Ernestine Jones and Luis Figueroa, parents were organizing a recall campaign against both Jones and Figueroa, but it didn’t go through because of lack of community support.

In the November 2004 elections two new board members were elected: Raquel Marquez and Paul W. Randolph.

Today, two years later, six candidates, including three incumbents, will try to convince the community that the children’s education comes before anything else.

The candidates are Tim Gomez, a business owner; Carol Guadiana, a substitute teacher who attended San Ysidro schools; Yolanda Hernández, one of the incumbents and a business owner; Sandy Lopez, another incumbent and medical transcriber; Jean Romero, an incumbent and a food-sales representative, and Sonia Romero, an emergency services secretary.

John Canillas, an educator, whose name will be on the ballot, said he decided to leave the race.

The top-three vote getters will win.

The San Ysidro Governing Board is composed of five members. They serve for periods of four years and receive a monthly stipend of $220. They also receive health benefits as well as the opportunity to attend educational conferences.

Among the most important issues in this race are rebuilding old school facilities, improving English-learning programs, and developing better relationships among board members.

Gomez, who ran for the District 8 seat in the San Diego City Council, said that one of his priorities would be to create better relationships between the board and management and employees.

“I would be a leader who would go to employees and unite them,” he said.

He added that better school facilities, such as remodeling Willow Elementary, would also be one of his priorities.

“I believe that students are a product of their environment, and if they have a positive environment, they will have a positive attitude,” Gomez said.

Guadiana said she would focus on improving educational programs for English-learners.

“Rapid transition to English is the biggest thing we need to achieve in our district,” she said. “Many of our other problems would be solved by increasing the ability of our students to test in English and more important this will prepare our students to compete in life.”

Guadiana said she will bring an educator’s point of view to the board.

“If I was happy with the performance of the board I would not be running. We haven’t had a teacher on the board in over 15years,” she said.

Hernández, who’s served on the board for 12 years, said her two main objectives are educational program enhancements and technology access for all students in the district and the complete rebuilding of outdated school facilities.

“My responsibility, as one board member, is to contribute and assure the community that I represent all the students’ best interest at all times,” she said.

She said that remodeling Willow Elementary is a top priority for her fourth term.

Hernández added that during her twelve year tenure on the board, “my experience has forged alliances, assisted in resolving challenges and gained the respect of administrators, teachers, parents and students.”

Lopez, who has served two non-consecutive terms on the board, said that her goals are to strengthen the district’s English as a second language program and increasing parent involvement.

She said that in the past four years she has supported a high degree of stability in staffing. “I have worked diligently to hold staff accountable for the continued improvement of our schools,” she said.

Jean Romero, who has served on the board for thirteen years, said that there’s a need to bring underperforming schools up to standard, to rebuild and renovate our substandard schools and facilities, and to implement programs to accelerate our Spanish to English acquisition programs.

“As I reflect back over the last thirteen years, I feel very proud and confident of my work on the board and I believe I have been very instrumental in affecting some very positive changes in the district,” she said.

Sonia Romero (no relationship to Jean Romero) said that promoting parent involvement in the schools is a top priority and solution to the district’s problems.

“We need to create an atmosphere were our parents, particularly our non English speaking families, have a non-threatening environment to find resources to help families support our educational environment,” she said.

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