Here is another Q and A with a candidate for the Conejo Valley Unified School District Board.
She already answered some of my questions, so I open it up to you.
What questions for Julie Svitenko do you want answered? Have you already made up your mind who you are supporting for school board?
Dear Mr. Dennert,
I have enjoyed reading your blog and wanted to contact you because you are reporting and discussing the local elections.
We have a great district due to our amazing principals, teachers, prepared students and active volunteering parents. But looking at the big picture and goals of the district, the board decisions the last few years have not served the best interest of our students and are not making our district stronger or more attractive. If some of our board will only acknowledge that all of our schools are great, equally great, we are putting our heads in the sand and not working to improve those schools that need it because of lost enrollment, lack of neighborhood support and choicing out in high numbers, and academic improvement. Innovation is also sorely behind. A community, all-schools, alumni capital fundraising campaign to support technology should have been implemented four years ago during the economic boon. It should start now.
Also, for the 5th grade California Star Science Exam for 2008 just released, 85% of University Elementary students scored Proficient or Advanced. Only 2 schools out of 20 of our elementary schools scored higher: Sycamore Canyon and Cypress. But keep in mind, our diversity numbers at 17% are much, much higher than both schools. So we are opening the EARTH magnet school so our district students excel in Science, but we are closing the school with the 3rd Best Science score in the district? This is quite the good example of why I am running. Good business or budget sense was not used when the board decided to close two of our three Blue Ribbon elementary schools in June.
I have included my background information and my positions for the campaign. Also attached is a photo to include on your blog.
If you are interested in discussing my campaign or meeting in person, please contact me. I would be happy to answer your questions anytime. My email is email@example.com.
Thank you so much for your time
(mom to Sophia and Samantha Svitenko)
I am married, with a daughter in Resource (Special Education) in middle school, and another daughter, adopted from a Russian orphanage, designated an ESL student in 2nd grade. I uniquely understand the challenges of parents and educators. I will listen AND respond. I have a Masters Degree from the University of Southern California and was Vice President of a national PR agency where I won numerous marketing awards.
With 15 year managing marketing campaigns for education clients and Fortune 500 companies such as, Nestle USA, Proctor & Gamble, Barbie/Mattel and Sprint, my experience with budget management, negotiations, long-term planning, and marketing outreach give me the background to succeed faced with the current challenges the school district has with budget and declining enrollment.
In addition to my 15 years in marketing and business, I served two years on University's school site council, tutored weekly in the classroom, ran talent shows, worked as the assistant director of the school musical and class drama projects, been room mom, taught Art Masters, numerous PTA jobs and committees and even taught a weekly music class to Kindergarten students at University.
My Platform/What I Stand For:
-Having a CURRENT SCHOOL Parent with family values and a business perspective added to the board to balance the educators views and goals.
- New leadership, energy, innovative ideas and a positive attitude to help heal our school community, after controversy after controversy this last year.
- I support innovations, fiscal responsibility and cutting waste from the budget.
- Analyze district budgets and recommendations with both a parent and business eye.
- Stopping the biggest exodus of our students from our schools than ever before, while there is a baby boom here with more children being born in Conejo Valley than ever. After complaint and complaint of the district and board that the elementary enrollment is dropping and that is why schools must close, (Dr. Baartsad said he projects elementary enrollment to drop by approx. 440 students this fall from 9,226 last year.), out-of district parents are still complaining this summer that their children still haven't been admitted to schools with capacity according to our district, examples: Maple and Madronna. How does closing 2 of 3 of our blue ribbon schools attract out-of-district students? The district responded that 78% of out-of-district students have been accepted and that includes 100% for the high schools.
- Strong Sports, Arts, and Entrepreneur programs
- Making cuts to the budget to invest in a new fiber-optics technology system for our schools that is needed immediately.
- Well compensated teachers, but I also support proper accolades and proper discipline as warranted.
- Questions to our district board - Why are we 4 years late developing much needed magnet schools, junior kindergarten programs, and businesses partnerships, BUT why aren't the budgets being shared NOW these new programs launched during tougher economic times when the district told us there is no money, when $1 million dollars was cut from special education for high school, middle and elementary students and 2 of our 3 blue ribbon elementary schools were closed.
- I support magnet schools but magnet school programs should be managed similarly like a business would--Plan it first, then act. --The district shares the budget costs and where the money comes from, the admission policies, the new curriculum, new neighborhood school borders and a plan for removed students. Then the public can respond, and then the board approves the program with FULL disclosure.
- Fiscal responsibility and cutting waste in the budget
- Keeping high performing schools open until the enrollment drop truly warrants it. According to the chart posted by the district online, we are 417 students down from the all-time peak of enrollment in 2005. If you look at 2002, 2003, 2006 & 2007, the district is down less than 150 students for the average year, when in past years the district balanced these annual budgets and schools remained open. Pay very careful attention to the 2008 numbers when they are released.
- Equally great neighborhood elementary, middle and high schools where capital projects and technology investments do not focus on only a few schools creating a district of have and have not schools.
- A zero tolerance policy slightly changed to include common sense, parent involvement and individual analysis. I believe in strong punishment, but also that even our justice system varies punishment based on the different severity of crimes and so should a school board.
- School absences by students allowed without retribution and respected by the district for all religious observances or holidays per established policies and laws
Another question you had regarding which local politician I admire: I admire both city council members Andrew Fox and Claudia de La Pena because I have great respect for politicians who are energized and passionate about their beliefs and representing their voters, but that also respect opposing opinions, do not insult or belittle members with different views, and listen and propose common ground when possible. I have witnessed this from both council members at the meetings and in the community. Also, they responded almost immediately to my emails and concerns regarding the school district and were eager to work with the district to make the city a better place overall place to live.