Our school facilities are outdated and dilapidated. Our kids deserve better and it’s up to the OUSD Board to make sure it happens. Also, Orange Unified is losing students because of the condition of our schools and our property values are being affected. The OUSD has taken only minor cosmetic steps toward addressing deferred maintenance issues, but little to nothing has been done to repair plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, or other core structural necessities of our classrooms, let alone upgrading technology on the campuses. I am committed to provide our students with a clean, safe, and modern learning environment that prepares them for the opportunities of the future. Updated school facilities will also result in higher property values.
In 2016, Orange Unified School District voters approved a $280 million bond for the purpose of improving our high school facilities. While state-of-the-art science classrooms are great, the existing building plans approved by the OUSD are over-designed, too expensive, and impractical for many reasons. I support responsible investment in school infrastructure. As a board member, I will make sure that the bond is only used for its designated purposes: (1) to update core infrastructure and utility systems (roofs, plumbing, electrical); (2) provide modern science classrooms and laboratories; (3) update instructional technology throughout the high school campuses; (4) improve energy efficiency to reduce utility costs; and (5) improve safety and security. I pledge to make sure that every dollar is spent wisely to maximize the number of improvements that can be made for our kids and for our property values.
Unpredictable violence on school campuses has escalated concerns over the safety of our children. Our schools are places of learning and growth for our kids. They must be secure so that no parent or child ever worries about their safety. OUSD has taken some minor steps to improve school security, but it’s not enough. I shall focus on proper training and contingency planning for our schools to secure our classrooms and streamline collective safety response measures in the event of any type of threat.
Appropriate, non-discriminatory, sex education is important as part of regular health care instruction and social awareness. However, a middle school pilot program that is being considered by the OUSD goes beyond the requirements of the State and is extremely explicit and inappropriate. I will fight for the rights of parents and families so that our schools only provide age-appropriate instruction. We have a responsibility to offer reasoned, non-discriminatory, and scientific instruction apart from explicit descriptions, unwanted advice, and misinformation which can be confusing to teens. Fortunately, the OUSD Board voted to postpone a decision on this pilot program by a 6-1 vote until the Fall. I am running to replace Ms. Moffat who was the only Board Member to vote in favor of immediate implementation of the controversial program.
Access to quality education is the key to the American promise of equal opportunity for all. Our special needs students deserve an opportunity to learn and grow free from the encumbrance of bureaucracy. I will work to ensure that opportunities are provided to teach students in an environment prepared for their learning capability. I will make certain that Orange Unified receives its share of State and Federal funding for special needs students and that we provide the right instructors who are prepared to assist special needs students.
I believe that our students need practical knowledge and life skills more now than ever before. Every high school should offer an elective class on personal finance to teach checking/savings accounts, interest, credit, loans, college financing, insurance, rental agreements, resumes, job/college interviewing and general preparation for responsible citizenship. I am committed to expand opportunities for training and programs that offer students practical skills applicable to durable economic conditions. Every student is different, and we should tailor our educational options to the greatest degree possible, including providing more technical training options.
It is imperative that we encourage our children to obtain a college degree and it is imperative that our schools offer the best college prep courses, but not every student is college bound and those students that are not going to college have limited options. At the same time, our students face rapidly escalating costs of living in California with an increased demand for good paying technical skills. I support a pilot program at El Modena High School to provide a series of elective classes training kids in all aspects of construction. The construction industry in California is booming and the demand for skilled labor is extremely high. I also support more courses dedicated to computer technology education such as coding, CAD, and cyber security. Students who participate in these programs will have an immediate opportunity to be gainfully employed. Other programs like these must be explored and I will work to find alternatives that broaden the opportunity for students to secure a better future.
The turnover and inconsistency of the District management over the last few years has been appalling. Since 2016 when the Measure S Bond was passed, the OUSD has lost a superintendent, lost its facilities manager, and has transferred the replacement manager that they hired in 2017 out of facilities management. The District must focus its management priorities on the nearly $300 million in improvements that are underway at the high schools. As a board member I will require the hiring of qualified personnel with significant experience in large scale improvement projects.