A Q&A with your school board candidates

The Free Lance sent three questions to all of the local candidates for the Hollister School District Board of Education. The questions were selected after asking Hollister residents what they would like to hear from their future elected representatives. Answers were limited to 50 words.

Here’s what they had to say:

Hollister School District

Board of Education candidates

 

STEPHEN KAIN

The hiring and retaining of highly qualified teachers has become more and more challenging. How would you help Hollister School District address this issue?

Stephen Kain

It is no secret that the teacher shortage is the next educational crisis. To obtain a credential today costs in the neighborhood of $15,000-$20,000 on top of any money paid to get a degree. Once you finish the classwork and get a job, teachers spend their first two years trying to clear their credential. The Hollister School District has lost 99 teachers in the last two years. First order of business if I’m elected would be, why this is happening? Second would be sending our director of personnel to every teacher fair with contracts in hand.

What are some of your ideas for improving school safety and eliminating bullying in schools?

The issue of bullying has been around for a long time and is a very serious problem. Research shows how learning is very hard if not impossible if a student doesn’t feel safe. If elected, I would review current board policy and make sure that every school has a policy of dealing with offenders. Repeat offenders would be referred to the board for review and action taken if necessary.

If the school district discovered additional funds that needed to be allocated immediately, what areas would you like to see those funds go toward, and why?

If suddenly the board found extra moneys to spend, I would bring field trips back into every school’s curriculum. We live in an area with many outstanding learning opportunities: Monterey Bay Aquarium, Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, Golden Gate Hall of Sciences, San Francisco Zoo. There are many learning opportunities that are not in the classroom.

PATRICIA MOORE

Hiring and retaining highly qualified teachers

The district has associations with the local universities to accept, train and provide classroom experience to their students working toward their teaching certification. This used to be referred to as “student teaching.” The district has begun working on acceptance of a program to provide an induction program for new teachers during the first few years out of school themselves. This program will provide local new graduates the opportunity to obtain a clear credential without having to travel to obtain the certification.

Patricia Moore

School safety and bullying

Hollister School District has been working on making the school and surroundings safer for the students during school hours by directing visitor flow into the school to the office, where visitors are required to sign in and obtain an identification badge. Gates and fencing have been improved as well as the alarm systems and safety planning. The district has a program to improve security and relationships within the schools in an effort to make students feel safe to report malicious and hurtful things that they experience at school.

Allocation of new funds

Discovered “additional funds” usually come with strings attached. School spending is extremely regulated by either state or federal government, as they are the source of most funding. However, if the “additional funds” come with no strings and are one-time funds in the range of $100,000 or less, I’d like to see more Chromebooks available to the schools. A few of HSD schools have them for each student, but not all. Now, if the “additional funds” will be available ongoing, I’d suggest adding teachers, particularly in the lower grades, to reduce the class size.

 

ROXANNE STEPHENS

Hiring and retaining highly qualified teachers

Because this is a statewide issue, Hollister must be competitive and promote what make HSD unique. Therefore, I would support policies that ensure: wages and benefits are competitive; teachers can live and work here, including city and county teacher housing initiatives; the teaching environment is supportive and classrooms are manageable.

Roxanne Stephens

School safety and bullying

I would create a coalition of parents, local organizations, businesses and governments, first responders, and schools to plan, build resources and train for broader safety issues, including active shooter, disasters and crime. For individual student safety, I would support peer-based programs, in which students work together to address and eliminate bullying.

Allocation of new funds

First, hire additional staff to address growing class size. Additional classroom staff ensures students receive individual attention when needed. Until classrooms and schools can be build to catch up with Hollister’s growth, students need more support. Second, purchase technologies that support learning, including laptops, tablets, educational software, teaching aides, etc.

CARLA TORRES-LUNA

Hiring and retaining highly qualified teachers

I would first be interested in finding out the reasons why HSD lost so many teachers in the last two years. I would also talk to teachers and staff about what keeps them at HSD, compare benefit package with neighboring districts and help enhance our recruitment and retention efforts.

Carla Torres-DeLuna

School safety and bullying

I’m interested in looking at what counseling services we currently have, collaborate with county mental health, probation and Hollister police. Look outside of box and deal with root of problem. For example, look at prevention services and try to help family as a whole.

Allocation of new funds

Students should be the priority. I would like to look at what tutoring or academic enrichment we can provide to all students, as well as after school programs, and educational field trips for all students. I would also like to talk to students and teachers/staff about their needs.

JAN GRIST

Hiring and retaining highly qualified teachers

Hollister School District needs to become more competitive in salary and medical benefits to hire and maintain teachers. HSD needs to promote the quality of life in San Benito County and advocate the advantage of not commuting to and from a job.

Jan Grist

School safety and bullying

Improving school safety and eliminating bullying in schools begins with increasing the number of adults at each school site. HSD needs to restore vice principals and increase the number of adults during recess, break and lunch. If schools can promote positive behaviors, school climates can change which will help decrease bullying and increase school safety.

Allocation of new funds

If additional funds were discovered, the first question I would ask is where did the money come from and why did it get “lost?” If the money is truly extra, I would like to see it go into providing more art, music and culture into the schools.

BRANDE BARRETT

1. The hiring and retaining of highly qualified teachers has become more and more challenging. How would you help Hollister School District address this issue?

Currently schools are beginning to feel the impending shortage of teachers. As more teachers retire there is a lack of highly qualified teachers to replace them. One of the best ways to hire and retain high quality teachers is to recruit experienced teachers and provide consideration for years of service and stipends for advanced degrees. Benefits packages need to be competitive and opportunities to for additional resources helps. One consistent factor in highly successful best practice is to encourage and support innovation. Teachers are professionals and flourish where ideas are encouraged and supported.

Brande Barrett

2. What are some of your ideas for improving school safety and eliminating bullying in schools?

Students are the best at making changes. Teaching students how to negotiate and insuring school anti bullying addresses any behavior that is considered unsafe. Sexual harassment, verbal or physical abuse or cyberbullying must be tolerated. The Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies (PBIS) has built in goals for tolerance and acceptance. Bullying is on the decline but there is still much work to be done. Conflict resolution skills are crucial for personal and professional success. Respect for self, and others is a prerequisite to learning therefore a top priority.

3. If the school district discovered additional funds that needed to be allocated immediately, what areas would you like to see those funds go toward, and why?

I believe that schools are the heart of the community. I am an advocate for opening campuses. Through activating dormant spaces (after school) to provide enrichment and learning opportunities to the community. At risk students can have homework support, dance, art, drama and music and other activities to build a strong community together sharing and learning.

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