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How to Improve South Bay Student Achievement

South Bay Union School District school board candidates share what they would do to improve student achievement if elected next month.

IB Patch will ask South Bay Union School District Board of Trustees candidates one question a week until Election Day.

Don't forget: Californians have 10 days left to register to vote before Nov. 6 elections.

Last week's question:

What role should standardized test scores play in a teacher's salary or whether they stay employed?

This week's question:

If elected, what changes would you make to improve academic performance in the South Bay Union School District? What should stay the same?

Candidate Lincoln Pickard declined responding to questions from IB Patch.

Barbara Elliott-Sanders

If elected to the South Bay Union School District Board of Trustees, I would be one of five members setting policies for the school district. Thus, I would be unable to elicit change without the support of my fellow board members. I am very proud of the academic progress our district has made over the past 10 years. With the current administration and continued input from teachers and principals, I am confident progress will continue to be made.

One area I would like to work on eliciting change is the policies of the School Attendance Review Board (SARB), authorized by state education code 48321. The SARB board consists of members of the school district, other youth serving agencies and local law enforcement in the community.

The goal of this board is to help habitually truant students , their parents/guardians to attend school on a regular basis. Unfortunately there are some parents who know the loopholes in this system all too well. They are aware that even if their children have excessive absences in a school year, when the school year ends, the absences do not carry over.

They are given a fresh start at the beginning of the school year to continue this pattern, and many do. This should not be allowed. The sanctions must be stronger towards the parents/guardians to ensure these children are in school.

As the adage says: "You can't learn if you are not in school." Our school district is very close to achieving a an attendance of rate of 96 percent. I would like to support all our schools' efforts to instill in all families that the education of their children must be a priority. In the 2012-13 school year I would like to see the attendance rate reach 97 percent!

David Lopez

Most of the changes I wanted to see happen are already taking place.

Educational leadership in South Bay Union School District has done a great job staying out in front of new thinking and ideas in education. We are moving toward a more well-rounded curriculum with added emphasis on history, science and art, integrating these subjects into our core curriculum. We are also doing less testing this year, which allows for more instruction.

Professional development has been an important part of our academic improvement, lots of coaching and collaboration, and most importantly, we have outstanding teachers who go beyond the call of duty every day.

Cheryl Quinones

If elected, I would actively pursue student achievement by ensuring that every dollar directed to each school site would be used to actively employ direct services to students.

The operation of daily District Administrative Personnel expenditures for me is a great concern. The Administrative Personnel year after year deficit spend. If elected, this practice of deficit spending would end, and more funds would be available to support student achievement in the classroom to advance districtwide academic performance.

As your elected representative, budget transparency by District Administrative Personnel is paramount to be effective.

As a public servant, my duty will require me to keep the public informed.

I will read school site plans annually or as amended throughout the year to ensure direct service to students are not reduced in the classroom.

Partner with the public, parents and businesses including military to support the Physical Educational program shall be included in each school site plan.

I would foster a stronger partnership with the District Administrative Personnel and the Board of Trustees to include members of the community at large.

What should stay the same?

If elected, I would encourage more school site visitation by the District Superintendent. I would like to see the Superintendent at the school site level interacting with parents, students and staff more often.

Continue the District newsletter and the district website.

Direct more support to teachers with technology in designing their classroom web page and keeping it current with daily instructional objectives, homework information and research projects.

More encouragement to District Committee Members and PTA to come to the Board Meetings and report the status of the committee work monthly.

At board meetings, I really like Administrative Staff and Board Members stepping away from the formal setting to welcome the public; shaking of hands, hugs given to teachers and school workers at each Board meetings.

Nick Inzunza

As educators, we are always seeking ways to improve our district’s curriculum.

To accomplish this, we attend professional development sessions and workshops, where new ideas and techniques can be shared. By maintaining these efforts, we are able to gain ideas and be updated on what other districts are doing.

This also helps and encourages district personnel to improve their skills and maintain a high level of confidence. This collaborative teamwork and self-improvement attitude that prevails throughout our district should be encouraged in order to continue the district’s ongoing academic success.

As an incumbent and as part of a majority vote by the school board, it was decided to bring on a new kind of teaching technology called a Promethean boards.  

It’s an interactive display surface designed to invigorate the classroom by engaging and opening student's minds. As it was demonstrated, it looks like a flat television screen with many great teaching strategies for presenting and explaining topics. It calls for 100 percent participation of classroom students and assures that the days of the sleeping students and of those that loved to stare out the classroom windows is over.

The addition of this electronic system to every classroom is an important change to our district approach to teaching, it promotes communication and in fits nicely with our teamwork way of working and learning from each other. For example, our Grade Level Teams can now better share and perfect ways of presenting lessons.  

By focusing on student’s electronic feedback, teachers can discover in a faster, more concrete way what strategies are working best and share it among themselves and other schools throughout the district and at educational conferences.

From electronically recorded scores provided by the Promethean board, a teacher can now immediately know what percentage of the classroom learned the presented lesson or if any parts of it need to be taught again. These scores and responses, either by group or individual students, can be shared with principals, other supervising administrators and at parent conferences with a successful and confident feeling.

Our district’s grade point average has shown an incremental pattern of improvement over the last years and our average California Standardized Test scores this year are higher than that of San Diego County schools. This improvement has encouraged me to continue my efforts for the children of our district.

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