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Sacramento, Placer County, CA November 8, 2005 Election
Smart Voter

Reflections from the Candidate Forum

By Ed Echeverria

Candidate for Board Member to succeed SCOTT RODOWICK; Center Unified School District

This information is provided by the candidate
My Reflections from the Antelope Community Association Candidate Forum October 13, 2005
In order to effect change, one must know what to change. I am the only candidate who has direct knowledge of the Board and their activities. That was apparent after the Candidate Forum sponsored by the Antelope Community Association on October 13, 2005 at the Antelope/North Highlands Public Library.

At this event, all five candidates were present or represented. Each gave a brief introduction and then answered questions from the audience. A very good question was asked by a member of the audience though. The person related her experience with another school district in the county which is undergoing the trauma of budget cuts and the pain that comes with those cuts. She asked each of the candidates if we could handle that situation as a Board Member. Each of the other candidates expressed they would be able to make the necessary cuts to programs and activities to meet budgets. One candidate even mentioned putting a bond referendum out to the voters. It was all gloom and doom. I was very glad I was the last to have the opportunity to respond.

Center Unified School District made necessary and painful cuts a few years ago. In fact, in my opinion, our school district is far better off than most in the area and I explained why. Only if you were aware of what the Board has been involved in or at least concerned about the position you are attempting to be elected to would you know what the current situation really is.

While the housing situation may not be as bright for existing homeowners (the bubble and all that), there is a great deal of growth planned for our school district into the Placer County area. Even the Antelope News had an article explaining that 20,000 new homes were planned for the area south of Baseline Road. Altogether there are plans to bring almost 13,000 new students into our District over the next ten to fifteen years from the areas in Placer County yet to be developed. And they will need new schools. Our future is much brighter than other school districts in the area.

Programs and activities are slowly returning. Last year the athletic program returned to the Junior High thanks to the SITE Council, the District, and some great Coaches who were able to do a considerable amount of fund raising.

But all is not rosy. There are areas where the Board need to be more accountable. For example, The Wilson C Riles Middle School was lacking sufficient funding for furniture and equipment. (An additional $300,000 has recently been approved.) In fact, the rumor I heard was that the lights from the Ken Thomas Gym were going to be taken down to be installed in the new middle school gym. During a Board meeting, a Board Member asked if they could get an accounting for the spending. I find it strange that the Board who has approved four change orders for the new middle school since December 15, 2004 would ask for that. Now I have not seen the change orders but if they involved more money being spent, I would think "where did the money go?" would not be a question asked by a Board Member now. They should have known. They approved the change orders!

Other funding situations need review and change. Title 1 funding needs to be spent where the need is, not where it has always been spent. Two elementary schools currently receive all the Title 1 funding. While I believe it is well deserved and student academic results would indicate the success of the program, we are missing other opportunities to help students. There are students entering the district at other grade levels who need the extra assistance the Title 1 program can provide. With the opening of the new Wilson C Riles Middle School, those sixth graders who were getting assistance in the elementary schools no longer benefit from the program. Just because they moved to a new school is not a good reason.

The California Department of Education states: "The School Improvement Program (SIP) is a state categorical program contained in the Consolidated Application. It is designed for elementary, intermediate, and secondary schools to improve instruction, services, and school environment and organization according to plans developed by School Site Councils." I know in a couple of our schools SIP funds have been spent for staff positions and photo copies. SITE Councils should not be paying for staff and copies; those should be the District's responsibility!

We need a Board who is looking at the funding the district receives and how it is used. The Board must be accountable for the fiscal responsibilities it has. Our students (your children and mine) need to have school board members who are looking out for our children, not their own personal agendas and interests.

Again, to effect change, one needs to know what to change. Because I have been involved and attended Board meetings, I have that knowledge. I will work to make the changes needed so our children have the best opportunity to be successful.

Thank you for reading this. Think about who will help your children the most when you vote to replace Scott Rodowick on November 8, 2005. I would appreciate your vote.

Ed Echeverrķa Ed 4 Education

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