December 3, 2004

Many plans for San Ysidro

The two member-elect for the School District’s Governing Board talked with La Prensa about their plans for their term

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

On December 9, Raquel Marquez and Paul Randolph will become the newest members on the San Ysidro School District Governing Board, taking the places left by Ernestine Jones and Luis Figueroa, who served on the board for 16 and 8 years, respectively.

Marquez, a former student at the District and a graduate of San Diego State University,

Randolph, a psychologist whose daughter attends an elementary school in the District, were the top vote-getters at the November 2 election race that also included candidates Joshua Castro and Eduardo Escobedo.

One week before Marquez and Randolph take office and right before they left for the California School Board Association conference in San Francisco , La Prensa chatted with them to learn more about their plans now that they will become the newest members on the Board.

Raquel Marquez

1.Now that you’ve been elected to the San Ysidro School Board, how are you preparing to start working there?

Having lived in San Ysidro all my life, I have been aware of many problems, and I know what I would like to do to solve them. It is important for me to immediately familiarize myself with the policies and procedures of the board and what I need to do to implement the changes necessary to make San Ysidro a better place.

2. What’s the first change you feel is needed in the District and how would you go about doing it?  

We need to break down the district-wide attitude of conflict. As much as people talk about teambuilding, the reality is that all the groups within the district are polarized and have been for such a long time.  

We need to begin working on  building that trust and changing the culture to one of co-operation instead of one of conflict. Throughout my campaign I saw that teachers and classified workers had no problem in working together, when they saw a common cause.

Once people cease to be “teachers”, “classified” or “administration” but individuals that can communicate without that immediate distrust of each other then we can start building up a group of people that can take on the world for San Ysidro.

 3. What are your plans for the first month on the Board? First year? For your term?

My plans for the first few month is to get to know board policy and the individuals within the district so that we can all start working on building trust and togetherness.

For the first year I have many things I would like to achieve. One of them would be to start a scholarship program for our kids. I want to start getting them geared for college at an early age and a scholarship will really motivate them to do well in school.

For the term, I’d like to work with the rest of the board to improve our students test scores.

4. Do you know the other Board members? How do you plan to work with them?

I have gotten to know the other board members quite well. Obviously as closely as I ran with Paul during the campaign, I know him very well. Jean Romero endorsed me, and helped me out during the campaign. Sandy Lopez and Yolanda Hernandez have both taken the time to get to know me during the campaign. We all need to work together if we want to make things better for our students.  

As far as working with individual members of the board, I feel that this past term really had a negative spin in San Ysidro. We have suffered from not having free thinking board members in the past, and voting blocs. I intend to look at each individual issue on its own merits and vote on it accordingly.

5. Any message to the community?

I want to thank  the people of San Ysidro for believing in me and electing me. I also want to say that the District is a wonderful and a great place to be. Right now, I don’t feel that I can. It’s not a lost cause and I know there are many wonderful people within the district. We simply need to start to make the changes that will make the district the place we know it can be. I am glad that my election has brought hope to many that we can make these changes.

Paul Randolph

1. Now that you’ve been elected to the San Ysidro School Board, how are you preparing to start working there?

Establishing and building relationships is my primary focus as I get started in my Governing Board Member role. As two long-term, experienced Board Members transition off the Board, it’s important for Administration, teachers, staff and I to get to know one another, so we can learn to trust one another.

I’m taking every opportunity to talk with people in the district, so that I can understand what their concerns are and where we need to focus our problem-solving efforts. I want everyone to have a voice that is heard, regardless of one’s position in the district and no matter how small or large the concern.

2. What’s the first change you feel is needed in the District and how would you go about doing it?

I think it’s crucial that the School Board send a clear message that we’re not going to act in a manner that will disrupt or destabilize the school district further.

We have a relatively new Administrative team and we ought to let them know that we support them and will also hold them accountable for implementing necessary programs, curriculum, and for getting the job done.

Performance accountability needs to be an ongoing theme in the district, so that everyone knows they will be recognized for doing a good job and that there will be support and mentoring provided when someone needs to improve their performance.

3. What are your plans for the first month on the Board? First year? For your term?

I think it’s important to listen and learn as I transition onto the Board. While there are issues I think need to be addressed immediately, I want to understand the dynamics of our district more completely. I want to assess our strengths and weaknesses, learn more about our Administration’s vision and goals for the district, and work to support ongoing efforts to improve our educational programs and curriculum.

I want to be able to look back on my term and know that I wasn’t a “micro-manager”, that I allowed our trained professionals to do their job without the Board “interfering”. I hope to provide oversight and input about policy in an ethical and professional manner.

4. Do you know the other Board members? How do you plan to work with them?

After attending Board meetings regularly over the last twelve months, I feel I have established a rapport with each of the Board members. I plan to work col-laboratively with everyone on the Board. The last thing we need is for new Board members to come in and divide up into “camps” or sides. I’m hoping that the San Ysidro School Board will move away from its history of bickering. The community is concerned that Board members, historically, have been as interested in their own personal agendas as they have been in our children’s education. I will be focused solely on the district’s needs and encourage that we all work in a positive manner.

5. Any message to the community?

The community voted in record numbers this election year. The community wants the School Board to represent the district in a professional and ethical manner. They want to see a positive, honest approach in our communication and dealings with each other in the district. We have a wonderful opportunity and I would invite the community to attend Board meetings and school functions to ensure they get what they voted for, a new beginning for the San Ysidro School District.

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