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Ask a School Board Candidate: Simi Valley Edition w/ Brad Jashinsky

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A new candidate for Simi Valley School Boards has appeared. Brad Jashinsky is young but in talking to him I can tell you he is dynamic, motivated, and is intelligent. I don't know if he is ready for the school board but I am looking forward to seeing his answers to our questions. Here is his opening statement:

"As a current college scholar and business owner, Brad Jashinsky, believes he can bring true change to a Simi Valley school board who in his opinion has made false promises and remains stagnate. Only a year removed from attending high school in the same Simi Valley district he hopes to help run, Brad feels he has the unique insight into the students, parents, teachers, and school district administration that no other candidate has. Currently Brad attends Cal State Channel Islands on a full scholarship after attending Katherine Elementary, Valley View Middle School, Simi High School, and Santa Susana High School. Brad is excited to begin finding out the issues that blog readers are concerned about this election year, and is happy to answer questions posted on this blog post."

I have a few questions to get Brad Jashinsky started and then it is time for questions from my readers.

Here you go:

1. Who are some of the most influential teachers in your life? How did they influence you?

2. What do you think about the process to fire a poor performing teacher? Do you think it is too easy, reasonable, or too hard to fire a teacher?

3. Have you attended many school board meetings?

4. Do you support the expansion of fundamental schools like Vista and Hollow Hills?

5. What local politician do you respect for the work they have done for our community?

When I get a candidate to agree to answer questions I tell them that questions will come in over a number of days and I don't expect them to answer every question the day it comes in. These candidates aren't getting paid and don't have paid staff. If you can't deal with waiting for a response I don't know what to tell you. They are running for local office, not the presidency.

182 Comments

What is the business that you own Brad? Are you a finance major in college? Why should you be hired to manage business with a $100 million dollar annual budget? Do you support having prayers in public schools? Do you believe that man and dinosaurs coexisted?

Re: Brian Dennert

1. Who are some of the most influential teachers in your life? How did they influence you?

I've had many amazing teachers throughout my time in the SVUSD. Some of the ones that have had the biggest impact are Mrs. Gray (4th Grade), Mr. Huybers (10th/11th Grade History), and Mr. Beck (11th Grade). Mrs. Gray really challenged me, and customized lessons for each student based on what level they were at. This made me actually enjoy school, and helped me to become a great student. Mr. Huybers made history come to life for me, and made one of my most despised subjects into one of my favorites. Combining personal tales of WWII with impassioned lectures he made those two classes the most beneficial of my whole school experience. Mr. Beck made all of us think outside of the box, and the ditched the standard read/answer questions method of English class. Instead he replaced it with creative writing, on-topic movies, class projects, presentations, and interactive lectures. All of my teachers have had a big impact on me, and these three proved how much a teacher can influence your life.

2. What do you think about the process to fire a poor performing teacher? Do you think it is too easy, reasonable, or too hard to fire a teacher?

I've actually gone through this process a couple times, and I think it's extremely fair. While it does take time the end result that I experienced was that the teacher and students came together to actually listen to each other. This solved the problem the two times I went through this process, and I think 9/10 the main problem is a communication problem.

3. Have you attended many school board meetings?

I've spoken at 3 or 4, attended about 10, and have read the minutes of a couple dozen. To put it one way the Superintendent Office Staff actually remember me by name, because I've been at a number of meetings.

4. Do you support the expansion of fundamental schools like Vista and Hollow Hills?

Expanding fundamental schools is one of the most important jobs of the school board. Mrs. Gray, one of my most influential teachers, transferred to Vista after teaching me at Katherine Elementary. She still keeps in-touch with my parents as well as myself, and she has told me what a difference Vista had made. She is able to teach how she wants to, and is able to have a bigger impact on students since transferring to Vista. There's a big reason why there are waiting lists for these schools, and that's because they are extremely effective. As a member of the Gate program I experienced first-hand what these types of higher learning programs can do for students.

5. What local politician do you respect for the work they have done for our community?

Elton Gallegly is the local politician I most respect. While I don't agree with everything that he does (I don't think there is one politician who I completely agree with other than myself) there is no disputing the fact that he is very responsive to the needs of the citizens of his district. I've contacted him numerous times about national issues as well as local ones, and he always responds promptly with a professional letter that you can clearly tell he took personal time to answer.

Why didn't you answer the questions asked by CAP-854?

Seriously,

Wow, give the guy a chance. I am sure he is going to answer it.

Dear Brad - it is great when a young person gets involved in the political process. You are welcome to send any pics/etc. my way and I'll post it on the CAPC website. You can e-mail me at KatieTeague@verizon.net. Also send me your weblink if you have one.

Since you are relatively new to the process, even though it is a non-partisan position the different parties do endorse and sometimes fund the candidates (the Republican "membership communications" are notorius on this blog). Be sure to ask and have your hand out.

Re: CAP-854

What is the business that you own Brad? Are you a finance major in college?

I actually own two businesses, which are SimiComputers.com and ReimagineMemories.com. I also do IT work at ProTechnology, an Adobe Partner company. I've also worked at Technicolor, Midway Games, and Liquid Entertainment as a software engineer. I'm a computer science major with a minor in business at Cal State Channel Islands.

Why should you be hired to manage business with a $100 million dollar annual budget?

I don't think you can directly compare the school district to a business since you are not looking to make money, and can't increase revenue in the same way as a business. To answer the question of why should I be elected to oversee the school district and the $100+ million budget on the school board here are three reasons:

1. I've been part of many diverse teams in my career, which has taught me how to work with numerous types of personalities. This has also taught me how to bring together a team consisting of individuals who have skills that compliment each other in order to create the right team to solve that particular problem.

2. I'm only a year removed from going through the school district, which allows me a unique insight into what students, parents, teachers, and the administration staff need from the district in order to be successful. While making budget decisions I'll be able to spend money that will truly make a difference in students' lives.

3. Starting 2 start-up companies, and growing them over the past few years has really shown me how to budget, where to spend smartly, and how to conserve with limited funds. The school district is most similar to a start-up in my eyes, because there is a limited pool of money at the beginning that needs to be able to budgeted for a certain amount of time. My start-up experience has instilled this ability in me as well as the ability to work long hours, and to have passion for all the work I do.

Do you support having prayers in public schools?

I don't believe religious beliefs should be forced to be left at the classroom door as it's very much a big part of each of us. I've known of Muslim students who prayed between classes or at lunch, Jewish students who practiced their holiday customs while at school, and Catholics practicing Ash Wednesday at school. Those are only 3 examples of numerous times I've seen students practicing their religion at school. I think these should continue to be allowed, and that schools need to continue to accommodate these religious beliefs. That said, I don't support having religion taught in school, because I believe just the debate that would cause would be detrimental to students' education. Churches, private schools, school clubs and the home are great places available to children who want to learn more about religions and to debate it.

Do you believe that man and dinosaurs coexisted?

I personally don't believe that man and dinosaurs coexisted. I know others differ with me, and I completely respect that belief as I hope they do the same for my belief. Concerning the creationism vs. evolution debate I think that's another big distraction that overshadows the bigger problems that are happening in our schools. Students should be allowed to sit out evolution lessons along with other lessons that bring up sensitive religious issues, but I would really hope that both parents and students would instead listen to other perspectives as at the end of the day it's important to know what others believe even if you don't agree with them. Throughout my school career we only learned about evolution maybe once or twice for an hour at most, and that was throughout my entire 13 years in public schools.

Re: Seriously

Sorry for the late reply; it's my sister's birthday so in between celebrating that I'm answering questions on my phone. I didn't respond late on purpose, and I hope I didn't make it seem that way by not responding on the same post as Brian's Question. My plan is to respond to each different set of questions on it's own post so people don't have to sort through other people's questions to find answers to their questions.

Re: Katie Teague (CAPC)

Thank you Katie for the enthusiasm. I'll be sure to send some pictures to you later this week, and have already started checking out your website to learn more about the opportunities available to me. Thank you for the help.


Talk to the VCRCC first if you want a donation... Thank you for using the Dennert Blog.

Mr. Jashinsky,
I think you're the next Bill Gates of education. Unfortunately our public school system isn't set up with the ability to recognize obvious talent like you.

How do you plan on avoiding all the politics and reaching out to the parents and voters?

If elected:
How do you plan on engaging the students with the process of becoming the best school district in the world?




Do you know that Simi Valley Unified School District is putting the post secondary classes (severely/profound handicapped adults) in serious dangerous classrooms at Simi Valley Adult School. The school district is moving the students to condemned and deemed unfit for use of regular adult students at Simi Valley Adult School. Which was slated for demolition for several years ago. The principal of the Adult School has sent a letter back on November 9, 2007 to Bill Waxman about the unsafe and hazardous condition of this classroom.
Thats right,The SVUSD is throwing handicapped Students in condemned classrooms. Why are these adults students being punished? Is the SVUSD just waiting for them to turn 22 years old and thrown out to the system without graduating high school? What about the "NO KIDS LEFT BEHIND" WHAT THESE KIDS DONT COUNT BECAUSE OF THERE HADICAPPED. I was a part of the public school Special Ed. system. I remember our Special Ed. classroom being thrown out of a classroom and put in a mobile home tailor made into a classroom but in the back of the school.
Simi Valley Unified School District is putting the post secondary classes (severely/profound handicapped adults) in serious dangerous classrooms at a Simi Valley School. The SVUSD is moved the students to condemned and deemed unfit for use of regular adult students at a Simi Valley School. Which was slated for demolition for several years ago. The principal of this school has sent a letter back on November 9, 2007 to Bill Waxman about the unsafe and hazardous condition of this classroom. The students of the post secondary class where notified of this classroom change and started February 11, 2008. I have the paperwork to back it up.

Re: nobody

First I'd like to thank you for the compliments. They mean a lot to me, and make the continued effort needed to win in November much easier to summon.

How do you plan on avoiding all the politics and reaching out to the parents and voters?

Unfortunately I don't really think there is a way to avoid the politics, but my main focus is to connect on an individual basis with each voter. Basically I want to do the unthinkable for a politician, and actually listen instead of just blasting my ideas out there to everyone. I don't have all of the answers, but the parents, students, teachers, and staff do. What I want to offer to them is someone who will listen, but also bring some new ideas to the table. These new ideas are not to be pushed on them, but instead discussed and molded into the perfect ideas to be implemented. That in a roundabout way is how I hope to get elected.

If elected:
How do you plan on engaging the students with the process of becoming the best school district in the world?

From my experience students don't want to be anything but the best yet we all have habits, which is what creates a lot of the struggles in the classroom. There needs to be incentives, and not just money bonuses from parents or candy from teachers. Pride is a big answer to that, and I think having a plan that is clearly communicated to every student no matter their age that allows them to see themselves attaining these district wide goals on an individual basis. Whether it be a certain test score, a new addition to a school (Maybe the Santa Su Theater finally?), or new equipment everyone needs to be a part of the plan. Becoming a unified district with unified goals, and a unified plan that outlines how to achieve them is essential. I think that is the key to succeeding with the ambitious plans we all have for our school district.

RE: dollarbill805

Thank you for bringing this disturbing event to light, because I wasn't aware of the terrible treatment these students are receiving at the Adult School. Going from school to school to personally check on the condition of the classrooms on unannounced dates is a top priority for me. I know while I was going to school the AC would be out until someone complained loud enough for the district to send someone out to fix it (Usually it was me doing the complaining). These events that you have described go far beyond minor discomfort into the realm of child endangerment.

Please attend the next school board meeting, and let me know if you are attending so I can help plead your case. Waiting until I am elected is too much time to wait on this issue. Also contact the press and other watch dog organizations to spread the word. Thank you again for bringing this to my attention.

Brad:

Can you outline the false promises you wrote Simi Unified has made?

From what I can gather you are adopting an "open source" candidate style where ideas and comments are sent to you and you listen and potentially adopt them. This active listening method is great for successful students to adopt.

However, I'm not totally sure I'd vote for an empty vessel open source candidate ready to adopt the ideas, whims, concerns, and complaints based on the times. I generally will vote for someone who has a specific plan of action even if I disagree with some of it.

So, what is the balance? It's great to be a representative listener, but do you have any positions that are non-negotiable and you won't change on, even if public opinion changes?

Getting people together to adopt a plan with goals is interesting, but I'd like to know your specific plan of action for the schools?

After four years, what will you have accomplished if elected to the school board?


Re: Scott Blough

So, what is the balance? It's great to be a representative listener, but do you have any positions that are non-negotiable and you won't change on, even if public opinion changes? Getting people together to adopt a plan with goals is interesting, but I'd like to know your specific plan of action for the schools? After four years, what will you have accomplished if elected to the school board?

Hi Scott. Thank you for posting. As I touched on earlier: "What I want to offer to them is someone who will listen, but also bring some new ideas to the table" is exactly what I plan to do. I can't say I will have any positions that are completely non-negotiable since I want to respond to overwhelming public opinion and circumstances when needed during my term. That said, unless public opinion is overwhelming I do have many positions that I will stick to during my term. One of my strongest beliefs is not lowering standards, and sticking by the requirements set by the district and state. In the past the school board has given waivers when students fail to pass essential classes. You won't see me voting yes on anything that lowers standards. I also believe in making tough decisions to free up money to be spent on our students, which I've seen the current school board is afraid to make. We need to consolidate services at a district level, and save money on utilities, maintenance, and construction costs. The cuts to classroom budgets as well as music, theater, and sports programs have been increasing. When I went to elementary school we had field trips, music lessons, theater, and more. Today those have been either drastically reduced or cut. These need to be brought back as they show that they help students improve on tests, while also allowing them to find their niche in life. Getting rid of distractions at our schools is also a big goal of mind, which means if we have students who are causing bullying, violence, threats, racism, hate, etc. to be in our schools they need to be removed. Online bullying and cheating also need to be dealt with. While these are individual issues that have to be dealt with on a case to case basis they have a huge impact on the performance of our students. Unfortunately I'm only 1 of 5 so I need all of your help to not only get elected, but help me push these ideas to the rest of the board.

Can you outline the false promises you wrote Simi Unified has made?

Personally, the biggest one for me has been the failure to provide Santa Su a theater, which has been promised for the last few years. I spoke to the school board in 2006 and was told it would be built by the time I graduated (2007). There's still no theater, and now the theater programs are actually being cut. The continued talk about challenging students, and making sure they meet standards by the board has instead amounted to the board lowering limits and giving students waivers on certain essential classes. Facility upgrades have also gone by the way side, and many of our schools are consequently in bad shape. On a typical day my high school was at least 25% broken in terms of AC, heating, bathrooms, and more.

I tried to touch on the ones that matter most to me so if you have any specific issues you'd like to know my stance on that I didn't cover please ask.

Mr. Jashinsky,

Thank you for taking questions and your interest in serving the students in Simi Valley.

I would like to hear your position and understanding of the importance of Special and Gate Education. Do you believe in full-inclusion and mainstreaming special education students?

What are your thoughts about the encroachment of special education requirements upon the general fund? How can we ameliorate this situation, will you lobby personally to have special and GATE education funded?

Are you familiar with the collaboration between Ventura County Behavioral Health (VCBH) and the school district's to serve children with emotional disturbances?

Would you be receptive to having an arbitrator or mediator to settle disputes wtih parents and students regarding their education rather than having to involve attorneys?

Would you be receptive to having an option for students to appear before a review board for expulsion hearings rather than only School Board Trustees? The board could be made up with a variety of public agencies officials including School Board Trustees, VCBH Mental Health Board Members, County Drug and Alcohol Board Members, Probation Officers, Public Defenders etc. who are already all public officials and sworn under oath.

I noted your experience with technology, how can we best use technology to educate our children? Do you believe virtual academy's can be a good alternative for some students? Do you think SVUSD should offer virtual courses online for students who want to acquire additional electives? Can we replace outdated textbooks with laptops is that financially feasible?

Do you think it is a viable possibility to have secondary students attend school four days a week for a longer period of time to reduce energy consumption and less commuters? With a longer school day that a four day week could offer along with longer classes could teachers have more time to teach a class effectively?

What are your thoughts about the crystal meth problems in Simi Valley and also abuse of prescription medications, can our schools and community do more to prevent drug use?

I would like to respond to dollarbill805. I will call the special education department and the teacher for this classroom myself today.

Sometimes it is not under the direction of the School Board but rather an ignorant principal or teacher that makes wrong decisions in segregating and discriminating against students of special education. A recent example was a principal who took all the matching chairs from an elementary school classroom which educated children with autism. The principal went throughout the school and got all the old mismatched chairs from other classrooms and gave the matching ones to the regular education classrooms leaving the special ed. class with a bunch of mismatched old chairs of various size and color. Her excuse was that it wouldn't matter to special education students. I'm not saying that special ed. students deserve better than anyone else but why would she go out of her way to take theirs away and give them all the old ones.

Brad,

Good luck with all of those questions from Donna Prenta! She really knows her stuff. For other people asking questions it might help if you ask a few at a time.

Brian,

Just getting him ready for a debate, he needs to do his research.

Brad,

You seem very bright to me and I can see the benefit to having a recent graduate on the School Board. The Board is made up of five people and why not have a recent student who may be more in touch with students needs. Board's should be a balance of individual's that complement each other. I also think that having someone on the board that is up to date on technology is a plus the SVUSD website is in desperate need.

Don't worry about answering all the questions right away, I suggest you do your research first, which I am sure you are quite capable of, then make an informed comment. If it takes you a few days I will understand. If you would like to contact me directly with your answers rather than posting on a blog you can get my e-mail and phone number from Brian. I would be happy to help you understand my questions, I've helped candidates in previous elections. No one expects a Board Member to know everything but it is good to identify if they have the ability to find answers or surround themselves with competent people that will compliment them in their quest to serve.

Re: Donna Prenta

Hi Donna. Thank you for the compliment, and for your service to all of the students in the Ventura County Schools over the many years in your various positions both here in Simi and across Ventura County.

Questions:
1. I would like to hear your position and understanding of the importance of Special and Gate Education. Do you believe in full-inclusion and mainstreaming special education students?

As a former member of the Gate Program I'm a big supporter of the program. The Gate Pullout Program in elementary school combined with my teacher's more advanced lessons made me not feel bored by school anymore. Without the Gate Program many students would be bored by their lessons, and consequently lose interest in school and see their grades suffer. With a sister who went through the Gate Program at Atherwood I've personally seen and experienced what a difference the Gate Program makes. I first became very aware of the Special Education Program while at Santa Su. From fixing the computers in their classrooms to learning from one of my classmate's whose sister was in the program I was able to learn much more about the program. I think the program is run extremely well by the talented staff who have to go above and beyond due to budgeting issues that don't allow for enough aides. The success stories from that program are inspirational, and those successes result from incredibly hard work done by both the students and teachers. The mainstreaming of Special Education students is a very complicated subject, because each individual student has a different situation on which to base the decision on. I'm all for inclusion as much as possible, but I also see the need for the Special Education Program to be given more funding in order to accommodate students who learn better in this program or a combination of both Special Education Classes as well as mainstreaming.

2.What are your thoughts about the encroachment of special education requirements upon the general fund? How can we ameliorate this situation, will you lobby personally to have special and GATE education funded?

Every student is an individual with different needs, and at a different learning level. Specialized programs such as those are essential in making sure every student succeeds in their education. These programs have to be funded, or a number of the district's hardest working students will be affected. I will personally lobby to have both of these programs funded.

3. Are you familiar with the collaboration between Ventura County Behavioral Health (VCBH) and the school district's to serve children with emotional disturbances?

Is this the specific collaboration program?
"This program is accessed through your local school district. Day treatment
programs for eligible special education students. These are collaborative efforts between local school districts and Mental Health. Therapists are placed on-site at designated Special Day Classes. Case management services are offered for all Seriously Emotionally Disturbed students that are placed away from home. Services are also offered for preschoolers through Headstart."

4. Would you be receptive to having an arbitrator or mediator to settle disputes with parents and students regarding their education rather than having to involve attorneys?

Once it gets to the point where lawyers are involved all hope is lost in my opinion. Costs begin to skyrocket, the student's education suffers, and the school district is once again distracted. Disputes need to go up the ladder appropriately, and at the rare times that they can't be solved by district officials mediators are a great option to avoid the legal struggle.

5. Would you be receptive to having an option for students to appear before a review board for expulsion hearings rather than only School Board Trustees?

I honestly always found it odd that the school board even played such an important role on making the final decision on expulsions. In my view the school board most likely doesn't understand the situation as well as other professionals such as those you listed. Bringing together these professionals as well as teachers, principals, and parents that know the student should be an option depending on the cause of the expulsion. I think that bringing in these professionals should only happen when the case is not cut and dry. On certain offenses such as violent attacks, severe drug violations (Dealing, etc.), or other arrests
those should be dealt with harshly and by the book without the ability for second chances. All other cases should be dealt with from a "Can we fix this? angle" with these professionals instead of focusing on just the expulsion.


6. I noted your experience with technology, how can we best use technology to educate our children? Do you believe virtual academy's can be a good alternative for some students? Do you think SVUSD should offer virtual courses online for students who want to acquire additional electives? Can we replace outdated textbooks with laptops is that financially feasible?

From interactive lessons to preparing students for the new digital landscape technology in our schools is incredibly important. Using software such as Blackboard for students to be able to manage homework, notes, and schedules for all of their classes from one website will make it easier for students to excel. At this point, I feel that virtual courses should be reserved for niche electives in high school allowing for a course program to be developed for a subject that doesn't quite have enough interest to assign a classroom to it. As the library of classes would grow this would give the district an incredible amount of valuable lessons. Partnering with are colleges who already have courses designed is also a must. Apple's iTunes actually has hours of lectures from colleges all around the world available for free right now. Virtual textbooks are the future, and will help students learn/review better, save money, and as an added benefit also help the environment. Being able to search a text book quickly and easily is a learning tool that should be available well before college. Laptops are expensive to buy and maintain for every student, but learning labs and allowing students to use virtual textbooks on their home computers is a great start. For students that don't have the Internet or a computer at home computer labs need to be available and partnerships with computer companies need to be forged to allow for these students to use this technology as well.

7. Do you think it is a viable possibility to have secondary students attend school four days a week for a longer period of time to reduce energy consumption and less commuters? With a longer school day that a four day week could offer along with longer classes could teachers have more time to teach a class effectively?

Based entirely off of my personal experience longer school days are detrimental to students learning. In high school, the classes later in the day would suffer from both teacher and student burn-out. I really liked the way the classes were rotated each-day at Valley View Middle School allowing for each student to have a fresh schedule. At Santa Su on Wednesdays and Thursdays the schedules are split, and the classes are extended an hour each. This allows time for the lengthier lessons to be taught by the teachers. Expanding/fixing parking lots will help save energy, and help alleviate stress that both parents and students encounter in the process of picking up and dropping off students. My college(CSUCI) has done a great job of saving energy by using energy efficient lights, water saving urinals, energy efficient appliances, and energy efficient computers. In addition to these as new schools are built, and as the technology becomes cheaper partnering with solar panel companies along with other alternative energy companies could save tens of thousands if not more for the district.

8. What are your thoughts about the crystal meth problems in Simi Valley and also abuse of prescription medications, can our schools and community do more to prevent drug use?

Crystal meth and other illegal drugs are a much bigger problem in Simi Valley than I believe is generally acknowledged. Just in my high school years at Simi High and Santa Su I knew of several of my classmates who were arrested due to drugs, and even more tragically those who were hospitalized due to drugs. In my senior year alone we had 3 junior students who overdosed on cough syrup trying to get high. After school programs, and getting students interested in school and activities all go a long way in having them not even consider drugs. It really needs to start with education in elementary school through the DARE Program, and involving the lessons in other class work. In high school I think the education should continue on a limited basis, but that prosecution needs to be the main focus. Primarily, high school student don't take drug education seriously, but when their friends are suspended, expelled, or arrested they will stop and think of the consequences of drug use. Collaboration with both the District Attorney and Simi Police Department are essential in solving our drug problem.

Thank you the engaging questions. They really helped me learn more about the issues that are important to voters out there. Please let me know if you want me to clarify or expand on any of my answers.

dollarbill805,

I contacted and spoke with the teacher for the special day class at the Simi Valley Adult School that you referred to. I was made aware of this issue several months ago because she had come to me to discuss the situation. I was reassured that the situation was ameliorated. If you still are concerned about the conditions not being taken care of or heard otherwise I am happy to tour the site and verify it myself.

Brad,

You need to do your research before you make an issue at school board meetings and tell people to contact the press. Always contact people directly before you make it a public issue, diplomacy is important as an elected official.

dollarbill805,

I contacted and spoke with the teacher for the special day class at the Simi Valley Adult School that you referred to. I was made aware of this issue several months ago because she had come to me to discuss the situation. I was reassured that the situation was ameliorated. If you still are concerned about the conditions not being taken care of or heard otherwise I am happy to tour the site and verify it myself.

Brad,

You need to do your research before you make an issue at school board meetings and tell people to contact the press. Always contact people directly before you make it a public issue, diplomacy is important as an elected official.

Re: Donna Prenta

With all due respect, I believe dollarbill805 already exhausted the non-public options. The district was already contacted, and yet the sitation was still not solved. dollarbill805 made this sound like a clear pattern that has happened, and continues to happen. At a certain point more drastic actions must be taken for change to truly happen. From personal experience the press can make situations become important to the district and to the citizens of Simi Valley. School board meetings are also a great resource when you hit a dead-end with the district such as dollarbill805 had.

dollarbill805, if the situation still hasn't been resolved please give me a call at 805 428-4133 so we can discuss the specifics of the situation more, and find out the next step on the way to solving this problem.

Do you support dress codes aimed at banning perceived gang attire from schools or do you think it is a violation of free expression?

Brad:

Thanks for the answers.

How's the campaign coming together? Do you have staff/volunteers? Endorsements? Money?

Any notable early support from the community?

Brad:

Are you open to converting SVUSD to a charter district in order to get away from the burdensome regulation and budget inflexibility?

Charter schools appear to promote stronger local control over curriculum, better parental involvement, and improved student attendance.

Current law states 50% of a district's teachers need to approve of a charter in order for the application to be considered.

Do you think this should be a community at large decision or only decided by teachers?

Scott,

Are you supporting turning every Simi Valley school into a charter?

Can you provide some links to studies or discussions where this has happened before in a suburban district?

Re: Brian

1. Do you support dress codes aimed at banning perceived gang attire from schools or do you think it is a violation of free expression?

I think free expression is not without limits when it begins to endanger other, but what I've seen many of these dress codes aimed at banning gang activity/attire don't solve the central problem. While at Simi High the Independent Brand Logo was banned for a while due to a gang scare, but that didn't magically stop the gangs. Offensive clothes should be banned especially if the symbol invokes hate, but the problem itself needs to be tackled as well.

OK, for some of us who no longer have children in school, what is "dollarbill805"? Thanks

Re: barbra williamson

Hi Barbara, "dollarbill805" was the alias name of the person who posted the question above describing the situation of special education students at Simi Valley Adult School.

Brian:

Brad wrote that he will have no issues that are non-negotiable, so I wanted to know if he was open to it.

This is Brad's thread to answer questions about his views on education. He has been very articulate about his views and his activity in the schools. I want to give him more topics to write about.

Let's not get off track with the vendetta you have against my posts.


Scott,

Can you provide a link to where that has happened before in a suburban district. I am honestly curious about it as I am sure others are as well.

I don't have a vendetta against your posts. Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog.

Re: Scott Blough

1. How's the campaign coming together? Do you have staff/volunteers? Endorsements? Money? Any notable early support from the community?

The campaign is coming together at a comfortable rate, and the website should be up at http://www.IBelieveInBrad.com in the next couple days. So far I'm relying on my family and friends for help and advice as well as getting a lot of great ideas from commenters on this blog. I'll be expanding the campaign in the next week or two with fliers, and will be speaking all around Simi later this month. I am accepting donations, but currently I am self-funding the election. If anyone would like to help please give me a call at 805 -428-4133 or send me an email at IBelieveInBrad at Gmail.com

2. Are you open to converting SVUSD to a charter district in order to get away from the burdensome regulation and budget inflexibility?

From the research I've seen the majority of charter schools actually suffer from less funding than typical run schools. While there are mixed results in the various studies that have been conducted the most support research shows that charter school students either score worse or the same as students at non-charter schools do. From the funding problems, and the test score research at this point I'm not in favor of creating charter schools in this district. The great turmoil switching over to charter schools would create makes me hesitant to support charter schools unless the research shows significant gains.

3. Current law states 50% of a district's teachers need to approve of a charter in order for the application to be considered. Do you think this should be a community at large decision or only decided by teachers?

I think the decision should involve both teachers, and the school's community to be decided on by a vote. I personally feel that a vote of 60% should be needed to pass such a decision. As I said above though, I don't personally support turning Simi Schools into charter schools.

Guess it would help to go back and READ all the entires before asking the question...sorry.

Brian:

I'm surprised you aren't aware of the Charter district concept as this was an area of agreement between George Bush and Al Gore in 2000's presidential campaign. As the article I linked to points out:

"Any locality in California, Oregon, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and New Mexico can do it under current law. The District of Columbia could go all-charter now."

The article is dated and legislation could have changed, but I'm pretty sure any district could do it in California if they thought it would improve education.

On a lighter note, As an example of your Vendetta against my posts :), please note I'm the only person on this thread that you have challenged to provide evidence just to ask question.

What gives?

Scott,

I didn't say prove it works. I simply asked:

"Can you provide some links to studies or discussions where this has happened before in a suburban district?"

I was curious if any suburban schools in California have already converted into a charter district. You brought up something new I hadn't heard much about at all.

I read the article and it mostly seems to apply to failing, inner city schools.

Brad,

Do you support continuing the current middle school set up where 6th graders and their families choose to go to middle school or stay at their elementary school? Do you see any problems with the current way of doing it?

Brian:

What is your definition of a failing school? Do they have to be in the inner city to be considered failing?

Unless the statistics changed, I believe all the following are local title 1 schools:

Berylwood
Lincoln
Parkview
Santa Susana Elementary

Why should or shouldn't we consider those in your failing school category?

Should parents consider leaving these schools for higher performers?

1) "From the funding problems, and the test score research at this point I'm not in favor of creating charter schools in this district."

So, let me get this straight. If parents, business and community leaders got together and designed a public private partnership charter school around the University of Iowa's acceleration system with grade skipping and testing out combined with a UK curriculum model called cognitive acceleration through science education (CASE), you would oppose it?

Since you stated you don't support opening charter schools because of testing and funding, would this indicate that you'd close public schools that have scores like Charter schools and merge them with higher performers?

Re: Brian

1. Do you support continuing the current middle school set up where 6th graders and their families choose to go to middle school or stay at their elementary school? Do you see any problems with the current way of doing it?

Yes, I'm a big supporter of continuing this program, because I think it appeals to students who are either looking for a different environment or more advanced classes. Getting these students into the environment they want to be in a year early has beneficial effects that can continue throughout their school career. I didn't go to middle school for 6th grade, but many of my friends did and found it quite beneficial. As long as students and parents find the program beneficial then it should continue as it's not a burden on the district that negatively impacts other programs. My girlfriend's sister actually just decided to take advantage of the program, because she wanted a chance to get adjusted to middle school early. The choice is still a very personal one, but as I mentioned above, as long as the program continues to attract enough interest it should be continued.

Re: Scott Blough

1. So, let me get this straight. If parents, business and community leaders got together and designed a public private partnership charter school around the University of Iowa's acceleration system with grade skipping and testing out combined with a UK curriculum model called cognitive acceleration through science education (CASE), you would oppose it?

If the funding was there at the beginning, and the support was there from the community then I wouldn't oppose it. Unfortunately, this just doesn't seem to be the case for the majority of current charter schools, and instead what you get is a worst school than you started with. In specific, the CASE model is a powerful one, but the amount of training, rethinking by staff/students, and the major restructuring of the entire school could cause some big problems. I'm not disputing the fact that students who go through these CASE programs do not perform better, but there is a big risk in switching over to this method of teaching. That's a big reason why we haven't seen it adopted, and even Philip Adey, one of the original proponents of CASE, feels that's a big reason this program hasn't seen more widespread adoption.


2. Since you stated you don't support opening charter schools because of testing and funding, would this indicate that you'd close public schools that have scores like Charter schools and merge them with higher performers?

I don't think closing schools is a good first, second, or even third option, because that creates a lot of turmoil for parents, teachers, and students instead of solving the problems. Closing down a school and just moving the staff/students to a different school is most likely to result in even worse performance. Attacking the problems at the failing schools, whatever they may be in each individual case, would be my plan. My biggest problem with charter schools isn't the idea, but instead the poor results that arise time after time in the majority of charter schools. Maybe Simi Valley could create a different type of charter school that could be successful, but history says otherwise and that big risk of failure isn't worth risking on our students. I can't see supporting charter schools unless the ideal situation came together, as you described above, with teachers, students, parents, community leaders, businesses, and funding are all on board.

Re: barbra williamson

No need to apologize. There's a lot of entries on this post, and her question was buried way up at the top.

Scott,

You named four schools but your proposal called for converting every school, including Hollow Hills and Vista into charter schools. That's why I asked to see if it has been done in a district like ours before. But I guess from your response that the answer is likely to be no.

Brad,

Overall, what was your satisfaction with your educational opportunities at Santa Susana High School? Were you denied any courses that you wanted? Did it prepare you for what you are doing now?

Brad,

There are 3 incumbents running. Presumably, you think you'd do a better job than at least one of them.

Which one to you want to see go, and why? And what do you make of the unions endorsing the incumbents before talking to you?

Brad,

Congratulations on your decision to run.

As a tech person, what do you think are the 3 biggest budget challenges facing the district, and how would you use technology to overcome them?

Brad -

The issue about the sad shape of the classrooms at the Adult Education facility is just one of the many issues facing this district with "aging" facilities.

A couple of years ago, my child was in a portable over a Knolls Elementary that was infested with termites. The district waited to the end of the year to take care of the problem - but in the meantime - the children in the class could not walk near the "weak" part of the floors. There are numerous issues facing this district with these deplorable facilities!

As such - Brad, what is your strategy to lead the district to improve the facilities for all of the students?

Any one happen to watch Oprah and Bill Gates on the subject of public schools and what a horrible mess we are in?

Re: Brian

1. Overall, what was your satisfaction with your educational opportunities at Santa Susana High School? Were you denied any courses that you wanted? Did it prepare you for what you are doing now?

I actually left Simi High due to the technology classes being cut or severely reduced. By no means was my time at Santa Susana High School a horrible one, but it wasn't perfect either. I wasn't denied any courses I wanted, but I had to fight pretty hard to be able to spend my last two periods of my junior and senior years working at internships. I had some wonderful teachers, and one or two not so wonderful ones. Honestly, that's more from how different we all are than them actually being bad teachers. The computer classes lacked substance, and the training just wasn't there. The teachers worked very hard, but these classes were new to them and without training or the experience needed the classes suffered. The Senior Project was a disaster, and the rules, regulations, and general disorder of the project led me eventually to the district and later to the school board.

I had to work hard to get them to allow me to be able to take advantage of those internships, and learned most of my skills at home being self-taught. The computer equipment was very sub-par until my Senior year where the equipment was upgraded after teachers complained, and I spoke at a school board meeting.

Overall, my experience was a good one, but many of my peers weren't as satisfied for good reason. Programs had funding cuts causing class cancellations, and for the classes that weren't cut the lack of funding created classes that might have well been cut anyway. For those looking for something other than college after high school there wasn't much support or many opportunities. This is a big problem district wide that I'm going to tackle, because college should be the primary goal, but not the only one for our students.

Re: Texastract

Thank you for the congratulations, and for the questions.

1. There are 3 incumbents running. Presumably, you think you'd do a better job than at least one of them. Which one to you want to see go, and why?

I don't want to attack anyone personally so I'm basing my following comments on purely their record and numbers of years on the board. I feel that I can do a better job than the board has done so far, because during their terms school facilities are lacking, important programs have been cut or are being considered to being cut, and there are a number of schools that are under performing. Janice DiFatta and Debbie Sandland have been on the board for well over a decade each, and yet these problems still exist, and continue to deteriorate across the district. Rob Collins has only been on the board for one term so while there hasn't been significant change brought during his time on the board I feel that he bears the responsibility a bit less than Janice DiFatta and Debbie Sandland.

2. And what do you make of the unions endorsing the incumbents before talking to you?

That's pretty standard of the unions to endorse the incumbents before the candidate list is even completed. I hope to change their members' minds over the next 2-3 months, and I think that I have a platform that would really interest them.

Brad, For the most part I have to agree with your observations with computer issues at SSHS.

I did a project this year with the Video Entrepeneur Class for my Rotary Club and was working with the class to make a promotional video about a festival we held at Corriganville. VE is a Regional Occupation Program along with the Computer Repair Program, Stagecraft, Broadcast Journalism and a couple of other classes I don't know by name. The ROP classes are part of the Ventura County Board of Education's responsibility. My son's are graduate's of SSHS, one got his certificate for computer repair and completed his internship, the other specialized in video production.

Rotary had over 20 hours of footage to edit to make into a 5 minute promotional video about the festival. We had constant breakdowns in equipment, or didn't have the proper equipment and would lose months worth of work which would demoralize the students. The students are learning their craft on old and outdated equipment that will be irrelevant to their trade before they even pursue their careers and then they will need to be retrained on updated technology.

The Broadcast Journalism Class, Video entrepeneur and editing room didn't have a single pair of working computer speakers, how can you edit footage when you can't even hear it. I contacted the Ventura Conty Board of Education Trustee, Dean Kunicki that oversaw this program he came by gave it a look and did not do anything to help the students or the program. In stead the VCOE made cuts to the program and the Computer Repair Class was dropped and the teacher that was retiring was not replaced. The new teacher that taught the Video Entrepeneur Class got a pink slip. Kunicki said that we should ask the SVUSD to pay for the infrastructre and that the VCOE was not responsible for the equipment problems. I asked Kunicki to help us to find sponsors and he told me his experience was that temporary grants were not a solution. No one heard from Trustee Kunicki again.

I pleaded our case to Harman/JBL International and they donated computer speakers to the class so we could complete our editing. They have very generously donated over $15,000 worth of electronics to the school throughout the years. One of the students in VE families owns a video transfer house and they donated cables and transferred footage for us free of charge. Had it not been for the generosity of these donors the entire school year for this class would have been wasted.

I don't see this situation getting any better at SSHS and I am sure the same is rampant at all of our schools.

Will you lobby to the VCOE to bring more ROP classes to Simi Valley? Our district receives a very small portion of the resources and programs that are available to the other district's governed by VCOE. It's about time that Simi Valley Students receive their fair share of ROP classes in Simi Valley our local School
Board needs to collaborate with the VCOE School Board to make vocational programs available to students in Simi Valley on their campuses not in Camarillo.

Santa Susana is billed as an arts and technology magnet yet they don't have a marching band. Is this a problem?

Do you think the school is currently fulfilling its mission?

Hi Barbra:

Sorry, I missed Oprah. What were Gates and Oprah proposing?

Re: Texastract

1. As a tech person, what do you think are the 3 biggest budget challenges facing the district, and how would you use technology to overcome them?

I think a huge problem is managing all of hundreds and even thousands of projects that are going on throughout the district. Almost every big business has a content management system that allows employees to easily work with each other, manage all of their products using one program, and having a contact system that allows you to quickly and easily see who is responsible for who. The amount of loops that many projects have to go through could be alleviated with better software that would greatly increase productivity.

There are so many parents, and community volunteers out there who want to be able to help yet don't know how they can. We are literally throwing away hundreds of hours of help every year, because there isn't an easy way to find out what's going on in our district and how volunteers can get involved. Having a place on the district website where parents and other community volunteers can go to see what volunteer work is needed by teachers and staff will not only save money, but make big improvements in our schools.

Another place for improvement is to begin to get businesses to sponsor programs, and the only way to get businesses to sponsor projects is to have projects that are cutting edge. Technology plays a huge role in the business world, and bringing our classes into the technological future will greatly increase press, which will allow for more classes to be funded by businesses through sponsorships and grants.

These are only just a few of my ideas for advancing and improving our district through technology. Introducing digital text books, and more technology classes over time, as well as restoring the ones that have been cut, are also big initiatives of mine.

Brian:

You wrote a charter district was my proposal. I didn't propose it, just asked a question of the candidate about the concept. Some candidates like charter schools, some don't. I felt it was a good way to get an answer about tolerance for diverse educational methods.

This candidate generally opposes alternative approaches to helping students reach their individual education goals as they should only be measured by test scores. I was glad I asked.

Re: Knolls

1. Brad, what is your strategy to lead the district to improve the facilities for all of the students?

Thank you for sharing your story. Unfortunately, as you already know, those problems you described are all too familiar to students throughout the district. From non-functioning air conditioning to broken lights I experienced facility problems that wouldn't be fixed for days, weeks, and even months throughout my time in the Simi Valley School District. My plan is to make the district more publicly accountable, because if those problems are out in the open the problems will be fixed instead of being buried in department bureaucracy. I'm going to setup a page on the district website where the public can write in to report facility problems, and see an updated list of what needs to be repaired and what has been repaired. Accountability reports will also be presented at each school board meeting so we can make sure that everyone is staying on track.

Apart from bringing these problems out into the open and prioritizing them, I also will be making this a top priority for the budget. Money can be found, and will be as the district becomes more streamlined and efficient. The excuse of not having money is a weak one, and whether we need to take out a loan I would rather have that done than see a student get hurt from poorly maintained facilities. The district is putting our students at risk, and risking millions of dollars in lawsuits instead of just simply spending a few thousand on critical repairs.

Re: Scott Blough

1. This candidate generally opposes alternative approaches to helping students reach their individual education goals as they should only be measured by test scores. I was glad I asked.

That's a shoddy and simple misinterpretation of my lengthy responses to your questions. I spent a great deal of time, and effort in answering your questions. Yet, in turn instead of continuing a healthy debate you have replied with a false statement that only is meant to further your agenda.

Charter schools just don't generally work, and that's not because of only test scores, but also due to the funding problems. There's no real advantages yet countless disadvantages. In theory they work, but in practice they primarily fail by any metric in which you measure them. I think that those who attack others' opinions by accusing them of only caring about test scores are simply in denial that their programs do not work. Test scores should not be the only goal of the school district or even the primary goal (I believe that is finding and preparing a future path that will be successful for the individual student), but they are an extremely helpful method by which to gauge results. When test scores don't change, and even go down that's normally a very telling result of how a program is working. In the case of Charter Schools the majority of studies show this, and that clearly tells me they don't benefit the students.

Since these two questions from Brian and Donna were pretty related I wanted to answer them under the same comment.

1. Re: Brian
Santa Susana is billed as an arts and technology magnet yet they don't have a marching band. Is this a problem?

Royal and Simi High have excellent sports programs where I feel marching bands fit into better than Santa Susana High School since they have such a big connection with sporting events. Santa Susana High School doesn't have any sporting teams, and therefore a marching band would be lacking those events to perform at.

2. Re: Donna Prenta
Will you lobby to the VCOE to bring more ROP classes to Simi Valley?

Re: Brian
Do you think the school is currently fulfilling its mission?

Santa Susana High School has quickly deteriorated from the great magnet school it was when I chose to transfer there from Simi High in 2004 to what is now, a typical high school. What made it special is barely recognizable anymore due to all of the program cuts. Those program cuts are seeing students leave it in alarming numbers. One of those students is my sister who is going into Junior year at the High School at Moorpark College after 2 years at Santa Susana High School. We need to reinstate the programs that made the school special, and begin to add more to further distinguish this school as an alternative for students interested in certain areas like the arts, technology, and the academics.

I was actually a member of the ROP Computer Repair class, which Mr. Vale taught (Before he retired) for both my junior and senior years. Not only was this class full of eager students with a great passion for computers we also ran the computer department of the school. The administration and teachers wouldn't call the district, but instead would rely on us students to keep everything up and running. That program saved more money for the district than it cost yet once again the big picture isn't seen by the VCOE. I will of course make this a top priority to lobby and get the money from the VCOE, company sponsorships, and the district to make sure that we have the equipment and classes to have technology programs we can be proud of. I've personally felt the impact programs like these can make on students, and it's been sad to see students no longer be able to take advantage of them. The band program, theater program, dance program, and technology program need to be better funded and expanded immediately before Santa Susana High School forever loses what made it so special.

Brad:

You wrote yourself you weren't open to charter school alternatives, so I'm not sure I know where you can conclude my opinion is shoddy or simplistic. But, I appreciate the personal jabs.

Many parents want charter schools throughout the state and feel their child does well in them. Does that metric count? Or are you suggesting you know better than these parents on what is best for their children because of your studies?

KIPP appears to be a great program, but I agree there are some bad ones. I believe they should be judged on a case by case basis, not in the aggregate as you are doing to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

In many cases, charter schools actually create specific individualized plans for students and greater leadership flexibility for parents and administrators. They are able to move resources in line with student shortcomings much quicker.

In political discussion, people disagree about views. No need to get angry.


Re: barbra williamson

1. Any one happen to watch Oprah and Bill Gates on the subject of public schools and what a horrible mess we are in?

I didn't get a chance to catch that particular interview, but I'm a huge fan of the charity work that both of them are doing here in the US and around the world specifically with regard to education. Gates' is really years ahead is his molding of advanced technology and education that while right now is expensive will be cheap in a decade or so. Even now his efforts are not only seeing results in his foundation's schools, but also are having people think more about having technology in the classroom to a greater extent than it currently is.

Re: Scott Blough

When you write "This candidate generally opposes alternative approaches to helping students reach their individual education goals as they should only be measured by test scores. I was glad I asked" that's a shoddy response since it twists my words into ones that fit your position. That would be like me making a generalization that you don't think test scores or tests are important since you mentioned individual education goals. You never said that, and I never said anything about only focusing on test results. I simply pointed out that charter schools perform worse on a general basis. Saying I generally oppose charter schools is an actual fact, and something I said, but instead you made a conjecture by going to the point of saying I only believe students should be measured by their test scores.

On to your questions:
1. Many parents want charter schools throughout the state and feel their child does well in them. Does that metric count? Or are you suggesting you know better than these parents on what is best for their children because of your studies?

I haven't seen an overwhelming number of parents asking for charter schools, and if they were such an absolute success we would see more of them, especially with such a low vote of only 50% of teachers needed to begin the process. They are a definite option that in some cases are successful, but restructuring of a school into a charter school is a great risk to take. If it was as easy as flipping a switch, and switching it back than we could take that chance, see the results, and then go from there. Unfortunately that's just not the case.

To be honest, the parents who do support the charter schools may be widely influenced by media reports, and organizations spending millions on ads to help support charter schools. Do I necessarily know what's better for their kids than them, well no, but they don't necessarily know either since charter schools are such a radical experiment with such different results. Just from a staff perspective the charter schools in a lot of cases don't follow union contracts (As they don't have to), and that can cause significant staffing problems. Add to that the poor test results that have been shown in multiple studies, and the numerous short-term and long-term funding issues.

At this point, nearly everything I've reviewed has pointed to them not working. If you have widespread independent data that shows these charter schools working I would be happy to review it.

Brad:

I think we just have to agree to disagree. I'm sure you could provide your studies and I could provide mine, but in the end is that really the goal of this thread? Besides, I really don't have time to pull every study and put it on here.

All charter schools are not perfect, but neither are all public schools perfect as you've demonstrated on here by your comments.

The point is promoting diversity of educational opportunities such as charters oriented around specific needs missed by the traditional school system is a positive for the community. Many times Charter schools come in and address students with very low success rates in public school. The alternatives give them hope where there wasn't before. This is a primary reason for the low test scores that you use as a basis to throw all charter schools out as an alternative.

Having students who for whatever reason are not doing well, get through a program in a charter school is a good thing, especially compared to sitting on a street corner.

Last, I am really concerned about your comments regarding parents that support charter schools are somehow duped by the "media reports". These are the kind of demeaning comments about parents that I believe create educational conflict in our school system and do very little to create a positive educational relationship.

Re: Scott Blough

1. Last, I am really concerned about your comments regarding parents that support charter schools are somehow duped by the "media reports". These are the kind of demeaning comments about parents that I believe create educational conflict in our school system and do very little to create a positive educational relationship.

I was careful to point out that some may be, and this is a true statement you can find throughout politics. Unfortunately, education has become more and more about politics and swaying of influence with misleading ads, media reports, and skewed research. It would be naive to think that the media hasn't had an influence on many people's minds with this issue and others. It's not a demeaning comment, but instead a fact that it's hard to avoid the millions of dollars spent to influence all of our decisions. Just looking at the recent Georgia/Russia conflict shows how the media reports can differ from the facts misleading viewers. You very rarely hear about equal reporting on the good and bad sides of charter schools as reports about how bad we are doing are not the most popular in the mainstream media. So don't take my comments as demeaning, or in the general sense that all parents are overly influenced by the media, but instead as a cause for concern that plays throughout politics and unfortunately sips into education as well.

Brad,

Would you take this one step further and say that this "duping" occurs not just in the media, but in local politics as well? For example, we've talked about the 3 incumbents in your race having the union endorsement already. If a teacher suggests to a parent that the incumbents are thebest choice, has that parent been duped into not voting for you?

If the city council bans political signs, is this a way of duping the public there is no campaign?

You had my vote early, but now I am getting concerned.

Have you studied the current budget?

Where/how will you streamline to find money?

" Money can be found, and will be as the district becomes more streamlined and efficient. The excuse of not having money is a weak one, and whether we need to take out a loan I would rather have that done than see a student get hurt from poorly maintained facilities.

The loan you speak of would be a bond. Do you believe a bond would pass in Simi?

Re: Texastract

1. Would you take this one step further and say that this "duping" occurs not just in the media, but in local politics as well? For example, we've talked about the 3 incumbents in your race having the union endorsement already. If a teacher suggests to a parent that the incumbents are the best choice, has that parent been duped into not voting for you?

I simply said that duping occurs when false information is spread, or at least meant to say that. If a candidate mislead voters by making false statements on what other candidates stand for than that to me would be duping. I'm all for every citizen discussing politics, debating the issues, and sharing their opinions. I wouldn't feel any of that would be considered duping as long as the facts are correct. Over the past election years, and already in this one we see both local, state, and national races getting away from the facts and instead into twisting the truth. Every citizen should share their opinions about the election with each other, and as in your example, if a teacher feels I'm not the best based on my platform than I don't believe that's duping. If someone was to try to convince others don't vote for me or another candidate by lying about our platforms than that's what I feel is duping.


2. If the city council bans political signs, is this a way of duping the public there is no campaign?

I'm not a huge fan of the public spaces sign ban as I feel designated public areas for political signs with strict guidelines would help raise awareness about the campaign, but I can understand the ban since political signs have made our city appear trashy over the years. Certainly, this isn't duping the public though, and wasn't enacted for that person. Once again the reason I mentioned duping at all was because I feel that in politics a lot of misinformation is spread about the candidates. That mudslinging, and lies about the stances of candidates don't help the public pick the best candidate for them.

3. You had my vote early, but now I am getting concerned.

Thank you for your vote. I hope that this bit of miscommunication doesn't change your mind about me. I simply made the comment, because of the alarming amounts of false information I've seen spread around during election years. I really want citizens to to make the decision to vote for me or not vote for me based on my true platform and not false information.

Brad -

Thank you for responding --- I do have a couple of concerns regarding your response:

First of all - where in the budget do you anticipate to get the money from? How do you get more money allocated to facilities within the current budget without a loan?

Also, my concern is that just a couple of years ago a bond issue was passed here in Simi a couple of years ago with 61% of the vote. That was a fight to get that passed. Do you really think that the taxpayers of Simi Valley would really go for another bond when so many of the promises of the last bond have not been fulfilled (due to construction costs, and limited oversight in the beginning)?

Brian - I know that you have started blogs for Rob Collins and for Brad. Have you been able to reach out to Debbie Sandland and Janice DiFatta so that we may pose some of the same questions to them?

I'll say one thing. This debate is far more interesting and important than the Ray Cruz thread, and I want to congratulate Brad for talking about the issues.

Brian - Knolls is right. Bring on the Sandland, Difatta posts or are they (like John McCain) not very up to speed on technology?

Re: Ligor Hunter

1. Have you studied the current budget?

Yes, I have studied the district's budget, and I've also been studying other district's budgets throughout this state as well as other states.

2. Where/how will you streamline to find money?

About 80% or so of the budget goes to salaries, retirement benefits, and other benefits such as health insurance. That to me is off-limits as taking away any of those risks losing valuable teachers and staff. This percentage is also very
common throughout other districts I've looked at in CA. So reducing any salaries or benefits is off the table for me. The other 20% or so is where we can go to work to get money for our students. The amount of money spent on text books can be reduced by going digital, which is a big component of my plan. Instead of having to buy books for every student we can instead go to class sets for Junior High and High School reducing book costs by as much as 80%. Energy costs are also rising, and costing the district a lot of money. We need to begin reducing the amount of water used, reduce the costs of maintaining the school grounds, and reducing electricity. I want our schools to look beautiful, but I feel that money could be better spent repairing the actual buildings and funding programs for our students until our budget crisis is over. The amount of electricity wasted all night is astonishing. I just did an experiment where I saw how much my computer and TV wasted. Even when off a TV draws a significant amount of power, and computers/other equipment left on overnight adds up quickly when you have thousands all over the district. Getting master turn-off switches, meters, and more careful audits will save tens of thousands of dollars. Overtime, we can add solar panels to save even more money. All of these things can save a lot of money, and not just once, but every single year.

The school district also owns valuable land that I feel could either be leased or sold as the commercial real estate market is still incredibly strong in Simi Valley, and from the last figures I read, over 90% of Simi's commercial space is leased. In the past the school board has sold the land yet squandered our money. A big part of our money is lost in
construction delays that cause prices to increase, and projects to never get done wasting thousand upon thousands of dollars. Better oversight, down to every dollar spent, needs to take place to make sure this doesn't continue to happen.

3. The loan you speak of would be a bond. Do you believe a bond would pass in Simi?

First off, I'd like to say I'm not planning to push for a bond right away, or even at all during my term unless it's absolutely needed. I do believe if our facilities were at the point of being dangerous to our students, and a limited bond was the only way to repair those that voters would pass one. The school board would need to earn back the trust after the last bond disaster, and a very specific list of repairs would be required. In addition to bonds, we can also look at developer fees. These provide much less money, but can still help quite a bit if spent the right way. As I said above, these are only drastic actions, and not something I'm going into office looking to do unless absolutely necessary.

What aspects of the last bond were a disaster? Are you referring to the 2004 bond?

The 3 incumbents were in a majority during the bonds' implementation - are they responsible for this disaster?

Lastly, you mentioned digital books and instruction. Many of our schools have 1960 era electrical infrastructure and many computers do not work. What is your plan for rolling out 2008 instruction methods in 1960 schools?

Re: Texastract

Thank you for the again for the congratulations. I'd like to thank you, and all of the other posters for asking me great questions. Whether you agree or disagree with me on the issues I believe that just discussing them can do a lot of good.

Onto your questions:
1. What aspects of the last bond were a disaster? Are you referring to the 2004 bond?

Yes, I am referring to the 2004 bond. There were very few things that weren't disaster with that bond. They wasted time and in turn money by hiring construction companies, and then needing to fire them. The original budget for the bond skyrocketed, because they allowed the construction companies to revise their quotes by pointing to inflation, increases in material costs, and labor costs. There were promises made to voters that those millions of dollars of money paid for by the voters would repair and add-on to our schools yet that money was wasted.

Here's a good overview of all of the problems as reported by the Ventura County Star:
http://blogs.venturacountystar.com/keaney/archives/2006/10/if_it_acts_like.html

2. The 3 incumbents were in a majority during the bonds' implementation - are they responsible for this disaster?

Janice DiFatta and Debbie Sandland are the most responsible for the horrible handling of the bond. Rob Collins is also responsible to a lesser degree, because he was only elected in 2004, and while he failed to successfuly make sure the bond accomplished it's goals he didn't make the promises that DiFatta and Sandland made to voters to pass the bond and then fail to keep them.

These board members were trusted by the voters to handle the voters' money. They pushed for the bond, fought for it to be approved, and then wasted millions and didn't complete all of the promises that they originally made to voters.

3. Lastly, you mentioned digital books and instruction. Many of our schools have 1960 era electrical infrastructure and many computers do not work. What is your plan for rolling out 2008 instruction methods in 1960 schools?

I remember my Dad donating computers to my elementary school, because the district wasn't yet on-board with the technology age. That was in the late 90s, and yet today we are still behind the times. Over the past few years however, the district has gotten some great computers from corporations such as Countrywide that have really brought the schools into the 21st century. That said, some equipment needs to be replaced, and will be. For $300 or so you can get a brand new computer, and with sponsorships, corporate donations, and volume discounts that price drops dramatically. We live in a digital age as you know, and when the majority of jobs have you interacting with a computer our students need to have the opportunity to learn on the same type of computers that can be found in businesses.

Re: Knolls

Thank you for the great questions, and sorry again to hear about the state of your child's classroom.

1. First of all - where in the budget do you anticipate to get the money from? How do you get more money allocated to facilities within the current budget without a loan?

About 80% or so of the budget goes to salaries, retirement benefits, and other benefits such as health insurance. That to me is off-limits as taking away any of those risks losing valuable teachers and staff. This percentage is also very
common throughout other districts I've looked at in CA. So reducing any salaries or benefits is off the table for me.

The other 20% or so is where we can go to work to get money for our students. The amount of money spent on text books can be reduced by going digital, which is a big component of my plan. Instead of having to buy books for every student we can instead go to class sets for Junior High and High School reducing book costs by as much as 80%. Energy costs are also rising, and costing the district a lot of money. We need to begin reducing the amount of water used, reduce the costs of maintaining the school grounds, and reducing electricity. I want our schools to look beautiful, but I feel that money could be better spent repairing the actual buildings and funding programs for our students until our budget crisis is over. The amount of electricity wasted all night is astonishing. I just did an experiment where I saw how much my computer and TV wasted. Even when off a TV draws a significant amount of power, and computers/other equipment left on overnight adds up quickly when you have thousands all over the district. Getting master turn-off switches, meters, and more careful audits will save tens of thousands of dollars. Overtime, we can add solar panels to save even more money. All of these things can save a lot of money, and not just once, but every single year.

2. Also, my concern is that just a couple of years ago a bond issue was passed here in Simi a couple of years ago with 61% of the vote. That was a fight to get that passed. Do you really think that the taxpayers of Simi Valley would really go for another bond when so many of the promises of the last bond have not been fulfilled (due to construction costs, and limited oversight in the beginning)?

First off, I'd like to say I'm not planning to push for a bond right away, or even at all during my term unless it's absolutely needed. I really think that if the school board begins focusing on the dollars wasted all over the district, as I briefly outlined above, we can find a lot of money to be applied for other uses. I do believe if our facilities were at the point of being dangerous to our students, and a limited bond was the only way to repair those that voters would pass one. The school board would need to earn back the trust after the last bond disaster, and a very specific list of repairs would be required. In addition to bonds, we can also look at developer fees. These provide much less money, but can still help quite a bit if spent the right way. As I said above, these are only drastic actions, and not something I'm going into office looking to do unless absolutely necessary.

There were very few things that weren't a disaster with the 2004 bond. They wasted time and in turn money by hiring construction companies, and then needing to fire them. The original budget for the bond skyrocketed, because they allowed the construction companies to revise their quotes by pointing to inflation, increases in material costs, and labor costs. There were promises made to voters that those millions of dollars of money paid for by the voters would repair and add-on to our schools yet that money was wasted. To get a bond passed the school board really would have to work hard to try to say this time it's going to be different, and actually mean it. If new board members are elected I can see that if the need for a bond occurs that voters will be more trustworthy knowing those responsible for the past failure of the 2004 bond are no longer in charge.

Brad-
I think Barbara mentioned that you should inquire before you speak. I will second that thought.

While I like your energy and ideas many are still capitol improvements there is not money for. Like you stated, 80+% goes to labor which leaves 20-% for education. There are plenty of other services that demand a portion of the 20%.

Go speak to the IT person. While there are $300 computers for home use they are not practical to be integrated into the districts server. And while you may be able to have books digitally you will need the hardware and a whole new level of IT repair persons.

How will you finance the 15,000+ $300 computers?

Re: Ligor Hunter

1. Go speak to the IT person. While there are $300 computers for home use they are not practical to be integrated into the districts server. And while you may be able to have books digitally you will need the hardware and a whole new level of IT repair persons. How will you finance the 15,000+ $300 computers?

I want to assure you I'm not just pulling random facts, and numbers out of the air without experience. The $300 computers will work as will any PC, because there are no special hardware requirements needed to integrate with the district's servers. Many of the computers at my high school were taken directly from Countrywide and installed without any need for modifications. The computers they have now are just like what you and I have at home.

I actually ran Santa Susana High School's entire computer infrastructure during my Junior and Senior so I'm quite familiar with how the computers work. In addition I actually worked with the district multiple times, and have had some great debates with the leaders of the IT department. I also run a company based around technology (Including higher end equipment than the district has). In addition to that experience I was a software engineer for a year at Technicolor Camarillo, a software programmer at Midway Games, and currently run the IT systems for ProTechnology, an Adobe Software Company.

As for the funding, the plan I mentioned above will save much more than just the $15,000 for computers, and these are just the beginnings of my money saving plan. Just unplugging appliances, and buying $10 energy meters will save thousands of dollars every year. For solar panels there are actually companies that will allow you to buy the panels, and pay for them as the savings come in. My entire plan will save money every single year, and the savings will continue to grow as we refine it, and make it more efficient:

The amount of money spent on text books can be reduced by going digital, which is a big component of my plan. Instead of having to buy books for every student we can instead go to class sets for Junior High and High School reducing book costs by as much as 80%. Energy costs are also rising, and costing the district a lot of money. We need to begin reducing the amount of water used, reduce the costs of maintaining the school grounds, and reducing electricity. I want our schools to look beautiful, but I feel that money could be better spent repairing the actual buildings and funding programs for our students until our budget crisis is over. The amount of electricity wasted all night is astonishing. I just did an experiment where I saw how much my computer and TV wasted. Even when off a TV draws a significant amount of power, and computers/other equipment left on overnight adds up quickly when you have thousands all over the district. Getting master turn-off switches, meters, and more careful audits will save tens of thousands of dollars. Overtime, we can add solar panels to save even more money. All of these things can save a lot of money, and not just once, but every single year.

The farther away the schools can get from the textbook racket the better.
Anyone who has attended any college class can vouch for the fact that tons of money are being made off of textbooks. The same goes for the elementary schools - only the district buys them instead of the student. Parents would freak out if they knew how much money each book costs.

Brad,

It is admirable that you are willing to run for school board and you obviously are taking it rather seriously and are a very quick study. You have made some very good observations about our school district and I am glad you are bringing it to the forefront.

I like you and I think you bring a fresh perspective to the SVUSD, that being said I do believe you need to be careful to not paint with broad strokes or over generalize. No one expects you to know everything or to take hard positions, they want to see your ability to make informed, well researched decisions and the ability to work together for the common good. People want to know if you have an agenda that is contrary to their values, it is OK to admit that you are on a learning curve, we like humility in our leaders. We also want to find out if you are too easy to influence or will you stick to your core objectives and principles.

All these issues are complex and need to be researched from different perspectives in order to make informed decisions. Taking a position on an issue to early before you have all your facts can dillute your effectiveness when you want to implement a program that you have changed positions on as it evolves, it is confusing to the people you are trying to lead.

My advice is to take it a little slower and use this time to allow the public to educate you about the issues that are important to them. Most people on this blog are political insiders and you can learn a lot from them.

I have worked as a children's advocate for many years at school district's throughout California. The most important lesson I have learned is that there is usually a minimum of four sides to a story and you usually only hear selective history from each party. the important thing to remember is, you are there not only for the student, but also for the teacher, school and the overall well being of all students concerned. It's not easy walking in to a room with sixteen advesaries from different perspectives and agenda's and find mutual respect and resolution.

Building bridges and finding consensus is paramount in being an effective Board Member and community leader. When you are able to accomplish these skills you will be able to have others follow your lead and help you to make innovative changes and programs, but that trust must be earned.

Charter schools can be a good option if the school district is dropping the ball and failing to provide programs to a niche population of students or if a school district is desperately failing to provide a decent education to the students. I do not believe that is the case in SVUSD. When a charter school is started by parents, students and teachers because they have identified a need I believe that is the spirit in which they were approved. Unfortunately charters seem to be a round about way to have a voucher system, problem with that is they are exclusionary, they will not accept students with special needs. I liken it to cheap life/medical insurance because you only accept students with no pre-existing special education needs, sure you can have a more profitable school and better programs because you don't have the same overhead because they are exclusionary. This could leave the public schools as educating the remaining students with challeges with a disproportionate amounting of remaining funds left over from the charters to educate the most challenging students. I take issue with charter schools accepting ADA money from taxpayers and then becoming a for profit school that lobbies elected officials and makes campaign contributions, that should be illegal.

I have entertained thoughts of starting a charter school for exceptional learners in an emotional growth/experiential/arts infusion model. It's pretty ambitious and I do not know if I could rally the necessary support and co-workers to take on such a project and be successful. The model I see certainly would not be a for-profit and it would not be exclusionary. At this point I will leave that to Scott Blough to pursue.

Re: Donna Prenta

Donna, while I appreciate your positive comments about me, I'm trying to figure out why you continue to question my points by doubting that I have experience or that I've conducted research. Is it my age or something?

I didn't read anywhere in your comments where you mentioned I had facts wrong or anything like that yet you are telling me to be careful about forming opinions too early. I've been working on improving these schools for at least the past 4 years, and have been doing research ever since then so I'm far from inexperienced. I've been working in high-level tech jobs since I was 14, and my business is nearly 3 years old, and extremely successful. A 4.2 GPA earned me a full-ride to college, and I've been involved in politics years before I could even vote.

So I'm curious as to what's the reason you have for giving me advice to "take it a little slower and use this time to allow the public to educate you about the issues that are important to them"? I'm having a great time discussing all of the issues with all of you on this post, and would like to focus on the concerns voters have, answer questions they have for me, and lay out my platform instead of discussing some preconceived notion that I'm inexperienced and therefore shouldn't be allowed to form opinions on these issues.

Brad,

I am not discriminating against your age, quite the contrary, I am trying to engage you in a discussion to learn more about you and how you will govern. I am also trying to help you to learn about broader issues that you may have not been involved in or had access to. Actually I would hope that the time that I have given to you to let you know about the issues that are important to me and many others should prove to you that I respect your opinion or I wouldn't waste my time.

I would give the same advice to any other candidate and quite frankly I have done it in the past for candidates when I have conducted forums/debates throughout the years for SEAC. I always treat all candidates with respect and enjoy having the opportunity to help them to understand more about special education in particular.

My humble opinion regarding public education is the more I know about education the more I realize how little I know. When I say to take it slow I mean give yourself some time to wrap your arms around an idea or position, ask more questions hear different perspectives. There is a lot to learn about education/laws & regulations regardless of your age, background, experiences. If you are elected trying to assimilate everything you will need to know as a Trustee will be like trying to get a sip of water from a fire hose.

Sorry if I sounded preachy, that wasn't my intent.


Re: Donna Prenta

Thank you for explaining yourself a bit more. On the Internet it's a bit hard to hear tone in comments. I didn't see any similar questions for Ray Cruz by you so I feared that you were afraid that my age would by a detriment to my opinions. Your questions have been great, and have helped me see the concerns of at least a certain segment of the longtime educators in the district. Keep them coming.

Donna:

That would be pretty ambitious. I really think you'd have to build a widespread coalition to get something like that done.

Brad:

Lord knows I have been highly critical of the bond in it's early stages. I was highly concerned with many of the first transactions and the project costs. So, I signed up for the ICOC and was turned down twice before finally being selected to serve.

There have been a lot of changes that I'd like to take credit for since I got on the board, but I can't because staff and the leadership were already making significant changes and improvements to the process on their own. I've also learned a great deal more about the inter-governmental pressures related to the projects. The process isn't as easy to manage as I originally thought.

During the first few months I got on the ICOC we moved the quasi-campaign bond signs that thanked the community in front of all the schools and listed all the trustee names from being paid for by bond money to being paid for in the general fund.

This was a small victory, but it was a symbol of what could be accomplished by an oversight committee.

Also, the district hired a specific company to go in and evaluate the costs much closer. To my knowledge, change orders have been reduced, which means things are closer to projected budget.

Second, the construction boom is over, so bids are starting to drop and SVUSD is reaping the benefit, except on the auditorium where it's too small for the type A construction companies who feel the project is too small compared to some in LA while it's too big for B construction companies. Not many bidders equal higher prices as no one undercuts each other.

With regards to the auditorium, if the board would have done it earlier during the boom, the whole project would have probably been too expensive and shelved altogether. Instead, contractors were doing job walks today on the project and it appears to be moving forward. This project also spent 14 or 15 months to get approved by the state because of it's unique location and ADA requirements.

Additionally, one should consider that by the end of this bond close to 20 million will be spent on Santa Su with a much smaller student population while Royal and Simi will get close to 14 million each while having vastly larger student populations.

So far, only 12 of the 30 schools have had work done, but this process was to last until 2014. It will now be complete by 2011. As of last month, 9 projects are into construction and 4 are in for bid, so over the next few months ICOC and the district will be very busy.

As my grandma always says, "It ain't over until the fat lady sings." Right now, we need leadership that will focus on continuous improvement of the bid process and construction management to make sure every project comes into specification. In addition, the ICOC is desperately trying to get the Website running to get all our updates out on time.

I wouldn't consider this a "disaster" yet as you describe. It's only 2nd and 7 and we still are in scoring position for the taxpayers, teachers, parents, and the students.

If you'd like I can pass along the number through Brian to the bond point man Pedro Avila and he'll walk you through where the District is and where it is going.

Or, you are welcome to come to next bond meeting to go on record with your complaints.

Brad-
You would do better to listen to the BP's that are here.
Remember all you write, say and do will come back at you. Your'I not a kid anymore!' rant is enough for me to take pause at your maturity,

If you go about things the same way the same things keep happening. Brad Jashinsky is someone with a new perspective. He is someone who has intimate knowledge of the process. Can he comment on the things he hasn't seen? No. Does he want to take part in divisive distracting political antics? Nobody does.

I think the voters, parents and students would appreciate it if Brad Jashinsky beta tested the system for errors. You can't be an educated community without electing the educated.


Did you pay to file a ballot statement that will be sent out to voters?

Re: Scott Blough

I've heard some positive things recently about the bond construction, but I've heard those the last few years so while I'm hopeful, I'm only hopeful to a degree. I, along with the rest of the community appreciate the work you're doing on the committee. I know it wasn't the easiest to get onto the committee, and that you had to fight for a while to finally get on it. I really hope that the latest promises will be kept, and that I can change my opinion about the bond. So far though millions of dollars have been wasted with little or nothing to show for it. Best of luck Scott on getting the whole thing turned around, because if it is turned around you guys deserve tremendous praise for succeeding on taking on such a hard task.

Re: Ballot Statement

1. Did you pay to file a ballot statement that will be sent out to voters?

I did not, because of the contract that I would have needed to have signed, which would have held me personally responsible for whatever printing cost number the county decided to charge. I'm going to spend the thousand(s) instead on fliers, and meet-ups with the community starting later this month. I believe that not only will this help my exposure, but will help me connect more with voters and learn what their individual concerns are.

Re: Ligor Hunter

1. Remember all you write, say and do will come back at you. Your'I not a kid anymore!' rant is enough for me to take pause at your maturity,

I thought we were having a pretty healthy debate about technology in our schools, and how to implement it. Instead I get a cheap shot about my age from me simply listing my qualifications after your questions questioned my technology background, and a vague warning that what I say will come back at me. I find that amusing as I'm not playing the politics game here. There's no magical hope for a journey to some higher political calling down the road. I simply ran, because I saw some problems and feel that I have some ideas that can help our students, teachers, and staff. There's no advisers, campaign staff, or even campaign money at this point other than my own. Everything I write is what I believe in, and I have truthfully laid out my qualifications and my plans.

If you'd like to continue that technology debate let me know.

Brad:

My last question was left unanswered. Will you or will you not speak with staff about your bond concerns?

I don't think it would be productive in the long run, as campaign season gets underway, to have candidates saying the bond is a disaster to the wider press when there is still a lot of work to go.

I would strongly urge you to meet with staff and relay your concerns.

Nice kid with fresh ideas but he is not going to win this election. It was a very foolish move to not run a ballot statement. It is the best $1,000 or so that he could have spent. Fliers get thrown away, but a ballot statement is read. Sorry to see that in this one regard Brad is a fool.

Brad,
How much are you going to need to raise/spend to win this election? I really want you to win. Where can I send a check?

Brad,

According to county elections it isn't too late to pay from another story I read.

If you don't pay for that statement count me out. It gets sent to ever voter in town. When I see people cannot afford it I assume they don't have much support. I also assume they might not be really running a campaign.

People are asking to send you money. Call county elections if you are serious about winning. If you aren't serious, why should your supporters be serious?

Brad -

I have been following this thread - and first of all - it is refreshing to have someone who brings your background and insight (being not that far removed from the schools) and still wants to make a difference in our Simi Valley schools. I like some of your ideas and find them quite ambitious (which is not a bad thing!!!).

You talk alot about bring this district into a technology era (digital textbooks, updated web site with facilities repairs and needs), but how do you overcome the obstacles of a district that doesn't have the staff to implement this ideas? For example, the web site was being updated by a principal of one of the schools. Individual schools depend on teachers to update their sites. Computers in the classroom (at the elementary level) are being used by the kids to play games in their free time. In other words, the computers are not integrated into the curriculum. How do see yourself leading the fight to change this?

If you can - I would hope that you can still put in a ballot statement -- Let the parents know what you are all about. Voters talk a good game about wanting change -- but when it comes down to actually making the change - they vote for the same people over and over again. Eventhough some of those board members don't participate in an active campaign (they depend on the unions to do all their work for them). So I hope you will reconsider.

Re: Scott Blough

1. My last question was left unanswered. Will you or will you not speak with staff about your bond concerns?

I didn't see a question mark on the last statement so I wasn't sure if you had wanted a response on that. Of course I plan to meet with staff about the bond concerns as I do about about all of the other concerns. At this point the bond to me is a disaster, because of the wasted millions. There's already been a lot of mistakes made that shouldn't have been made. That money can't be recovered, but hopefully the rest of the process is successful leading to those mistakes being only a footnote.

Re: CAP-873

1. Nice kid with fresh ideas but he is not going to win this election. It was a very foolish move to not run a ballot statement. It is the best $1,000 or so that he could have spent. Fliers get thrown away, but a ballot statement is read. Sorry to see that in this one regard Brad is a fool.

Thank you for the compliment. John McCain and Barack Obama don't have ballot statements, and I think they are doing pretty good. All kidding aside, I think the ballot statement debate is an interesting one, and one I really did consider carefully. It was far from just the cost, because $1,000 or so (Could be whatever the county wants to charge you though) isn't much even in a local election anymore.

Instead it was what advantage could a ballot statement bring to me, which I saw as not much since the incumbents have the advantage of talking about their past experience on the board. No matter what I would say in that small paragraph nothing could sway most voters away from the incumbents. I know I need to get my message out way in advance of the ballot if I'm to stand a chance against the incumbents, which I plan to do using fliers, radio ads, and as many sit downs with voters as possible. Just going up against 3 incumbents makes me a long shot, but it's been done before and I hope to do it again.

Re: Remember the Alamo Street

1. How much are you going to need to raise/spend to win this election? I really want you to win. Where can I send a check?

Thank you very much for your support. You can send checks to:

Brad Jashinsky
2470 Stearns St.
Simi Valley, CA 93063
Suite #349

I'm also going to have a website up soon that will allow you to make donations right online. I'm hoping to raise as much as I can over the next couple months, and have a personal fund I setup for the election as well. It really depends on how the community responds. I want to get my message out through fliers, signs, community discussions held at local coffee houses, radio ads, etc. Thank you again for your support.

Re: U

1. People are asking to send you money. Call county elections if you are serious about winning. If you aren't serious, why should your supporters be serious?

I'm very serious about winning, but just don't feel a ballot statement is the best use of my money or my supporters' money. It's definitely not that I can't afford it, but I feel that the money would be better spent on radio ads, online ads, a website, events where I can connect with voters, and a lot of fliers. I hope that you'll reconsider, and cast your vote for or not for me based on my platform.

I also believe that at this point ballot statements have been closed, and can not be submitted. At least according to the form I signed at the county election's office last week.

Brian, do you have more info on this?

I hope you're not really asking Brian Dennert if the filing or statement deadline is closed instead of calling the county...

Is there a Simi Valley based radio station you'll be advertising on? Otherwise, it seems like money would be better spent on a ballot statement than radio ads in Ventura & Camarillo.

Brad, I hope you understand that the voters are judging your ability to prioritize and make strong, sound financial decisions and you seem to be losing this round.

Brad,

A ballot statement is a very cheap way of sending a message to every registered voter. I think as far as being cost effective it is much more so than handing out flyers.

There is also Simi Valley Days and the parade.

Re: Sue

1. I have been following this thread - and first of all - it is refreshing to have someone who brings your background and insight (being not that far removed from the schools) and still wants to make a difference in our Simi Valley schools. I like some of your ideas and find them quite ambitious (which is not a bad thing!!!).

Thank you very much. One of my favorite sayings goes if you "shoot for the sky, and even if you miss, you’ll still land among the stars."


2. You talk alot about bring this district into a technology era (digital textbooks, updated web site with facilities repairs and needs), but how do you overcome the obstacles of a district that doesn't have the staff to implement this ideas? For example, the web site was being updated by a principal of one of the schools. Individual schools depend on teachers to update their sites. Computers in the classroom (at the elementary level) are being used by the kids to play games in their free time. In other words, the computers are not integrated into the curriculum. How do see yourself leading the fight to change this?

I don't think it's going to an easy or overnight solution to be able to make sweeping changes to the technology use in our district. That said, it's far from an impossible, and I've been successful in using technology to improve efficiency and cut costs at my previous places of work. Now onto my plan on how to implement this in our district:

We need to use all of our resources we already have available to us to the best of our ability. During my time at Santa Su the computer repair class I was in actually repaired all of the equipment for the entire school. Sadly, this program was cut when funding from the county was dissolved. We need to fight for our fair share of the funding, and reinstate these programs. Not only do they help students learn more about technology, but also we create students who can give back to the entire school district with their talents. The county funds ROP programs for web site design, computer repair, and other technology classes. Reaching out to local companies for support is a big plan of mine, because many of these companies have employees who would love to help our schools. That's where the volunteer board on the website can make a big difference especially as it gains acceptance. We will need to spend money on certain things, especially equipment, but there are many free programs out there to help us cut costs. There are free programs almost identical to Microsoft Office without the $300 price tag, and many websites that provide free hosting and an easy to use platform that students, teachers, and parents can use to communicate. I really believe we have many students and community members who are willing to help if a program is set in place. I'll be at the forefront of bringing all of this together, and also providing my computer skills and website skills as much as possible.

Integrating all of this technology into the classroom is another big part of the plan, because if it's not brought into the lessons our students learn the effort we spend on getting the infrastructure set up will be wasted. Training teachers on what's out there is an essential step so they can then see how to place technology into their lessons. Providing turn-key solutions and a place to go for help is key , because in my experience teachers want to bring technology into classrooms, but need some assistance to get it there. Taking advantage of a free community website (Called a wiki or a message board) can bring together teachers, parents, and volunteers from the community to give a place where questions can be asked and answered, experiences can be shared, and progress can be tracked will make a big difference in having technology integrated into classrooms district wide.


3. If you can - I would hope that you can still put in a ballot statement -- Let the parents know what you are all about. Voters talk a good game about wanting change -- but when it comes down to actually making the change - they vote for the same people over and over again. Eventhough some of those board members don't participate in an active campaign (they depend on the unions to do all their work for them). So I hope you will reconsider.

I believe that at this point ballot statements have been closed, and can not be submitted. At least according to the form I signed at the county election's office last week. As I mentioned above, I'm very serious about winning, but just don't feel a ballot statement is the best use of my money or my supporters' money.

It's definitely not that I can't afford it, but I feel that the money would be better spent on radio ads, online ads, a website, events where I can connect with voters, and a lot of fliers. I've had a few people tell me it's naive to think that the best platform will win, but I'm hopeful that it can and will if I get my ideas out to the community. Thank you again for your comments.

ooommmppphhh....

Ballot statement $.03 cents per voter
Flyers distributed $.25 per flyer plus distribution costs (i.e. you)

Bummer on the Ballot statement Brad, but I think that ship has sailed. You mentioned earlier you don't know how much you are going to raise or spend.

When did you make the decision to run Brad?

Re: Texastract

1. I hope you're not really asking Brian Dennert if the filing or statement deadline is closed instead of calling the county...

As I mentioned above I already talked with the county, and when filing had to sign a paper that renounced my rights to a ballot statement. I simply wanted Brian to confirm this for those who asked the question.


2. Is there a Simi Valley based radio station you'll be advertising on? Otherwise, it seems like money would be better spent on a ballot statement than radio ads in Ventura & Camarillo.

Since everyone that lives in Simi Valley doesn't actually work in Simi Valley nor only stay in Simi Valley the radio stations that operate throughout Ventura County and the LA/Ventura County will reach many Simi Valley citizens. Online ads can actually be even more targeted by age,


3. Brad, I hope you understand that the voters are judging your ability to prioritize and make strong, sound financial decisions and you seem to be losing this round.

According to you they may actually only be interested in judging based off of a ballot statement, which I hope isn't true. As for financial decisions, I haven't thrown around millions of dollars of tax payers money so I'm a few million ahead of the current incumbent candidates in that department. I've built my current business off of fliers, online ads, and word of mouth so I'm confident I can do the same with my campaign.

If you can explain how I'm losing this round I'd love to hear it, because I think if having or not having a ballot statement is the deciding factor for the whole community on whether or not to vote for me, all of us are in a lot of trouble, not just me.

Re: Texastract

1. Ballot statement $.03 cents per voter
Flyers distributed $.25 per flyer plus distribution costs (i.e. you)

I'm not sure whose paying a quarter a flier, but I'm only paying 3-4 cents depending on the run size.

2. When did you make the decision to run Brad?

I've been thinking about running since 2005, but this is the first election year I've been eligible to run.

Brad,

Who do you support for Senate District 19?

Brad,

Did you call county elections about the ballot statement? I don't remember a candidate winning without a statement.

Re: Donna Prenta

1. Who do you support for Senate District 19?

Honestly, that whole race has been a disappointment for me, because of the scandals and lack of focus on the issues. I appreciate the passion that the different candidates and the supporters have for each other, but I hope it doesn't continue to run overboard where it overshadows the issues. At this point I'm still seeing who is going to come out best in the end, but Hannah-Beth Jackson is my early favorite as I like what the Speak Out CA group she leads stands for. In addition to that her focus on education, and restoring funding for the arts are also appealing to me. My biggest concern so far is her stance against a new mental hospital in Camarillo, because the facilities they currently have leave a lot of people who need help instead on the streets. Taking a bus everyday to from the Metrolink Station to CSUCI has shown me first hand the grave situation for many in that community who need better care.

Brad,

One piece of advice when blogging here: "Think before submitting". If I was running against you (and frankly, you don't know if I am or not), I would run solely on the fact that you think Camarillo needs a new mental hospital because riding the bus there with all the patients makes you uncomfortable.

On another note (IMPORTANT) be careful of the questions from Donna Prenta. She will waste a LOT of your time with questions like who you support in district 19, and force you to answer. Her campaign was a tool of the anti-Strickland folks, and so she clearly had a vested stake, (or a grudge).

She also has a vested interest in the status quo at SVUSD.

Re: Handyman

Thank you for the advice on Donna Prenta. I don't mind answering her questions though as long as they are on-topic as no matter what her agenda. Thank you nonetheless for the information.

As for the Camarillo comment, I never said I felt uncomfortable being in the bus. If you ran a school board race off of some comment like that I think you'd be laughed at: "Don't vote for Brad, because he may feel uncomfortable on a bus in Camarillo".If you knew Camarillo you'd know there's a facility between the Metrolink bus station and the college for those who are either recovering from drugs, are hard on their luck, and those with mental conditions. That facility is overcrowded, has to force people out after so many months there even if they still need help, and are understaffed. This has nothing to do with the school board race obviously, but I wanted to mention it in regard to Hannah-Beth Jackson's position since I think the condition. My late grandmother actually voluntarily spent a couple months at the old hospital (Now CSUCI), and they helped her through a terrible time. After Regan closed a lot of those facilities those who needed help were instead thrown onto the street to fend for them self, and many still continue to have that same experience even today.

I see, so it's President Reagan that caused and continues to cause your discomfort in visiting Camarillo?

Handyman,

I think you are twisting Brad's words. Brad, don't let these people get you off the educational topic.

Chad,

What do you make of the fact, and earlier statements that the Performing arts center at SSHS might cost $20 million, but Simi & Royal each got about $14 Mil?

Should Santa Su even exist anymore based on the cuts in programs and lack of center?

Brad,

I have been an open book with my questions to you and they have been sincere. Please don't read anymore into it than that.

I do have an "invested" interest in SVUSD and the students but not necessarily as status quo we have room for improvement and I will continue to challenge the incumbents and hold them to extremely high standards.

After volunteering for more than twenty years for children's advocacy education, physical and mental health and personally raising and donating more than $200,000 in sponsorships, scholarships and teacher grants you bet I have an invested interest in our children and our schools. I have nothing to personally gain other than knowing that our children's future's are positively secured.

I get involved in other political races to make sure that the leaders in Sacramento do not negatively interfere with our children's quality of education and to advocate on behalf of our most vulnerable citizens.

Anyone who has the nerve to imply that I have any personal gain from my activism is totally ignorant and has no comprehension of the personal sacrifice and generosity that my family has donated to our community. I suppose trying to comprehend that level of committmenet to your community and sacrifice is like speaking a foreign langugage to those that launder campaign funds for their personal gain.

Re: thedonnapprentice

1. What do you make of the fact, and earlier statements that the Performing arts center at SSHS might cost $20 million, but Simi & Royal each got about $14 Mil?

As Scott mentioned there's still a lot of the bond money to be spent so when it's all said and done those figures might be different. I would expect Santa Su to get more though, because they are a newer school yet have older school facilities and don't have a gym, proper theater, or any other top of the line facility. Basically, they are a high school in a run-down middle school. To truly make them a magnet school money will need to be spent, and should be spent, because otherwise they won't be any different from the other high schools. Those differences and unique programs were the reason the school was created at all.

2. Should Santa Su even exist anymore based on the cuts in programs and lack of center?

That's an excellent question, and one that before I answer I want to say I went to Simi High for my freshman year and then transferred to Santa Su in my Sophomore year due to cuts in the technology programs at Simi High. Now as you mentioned cuts that made me, and a lot of other students choose Santa Su in the first place are now gone. Enrollment is not growing as much as expected, and students are actually leaving due to these program cuts. I don't think closing Santa Su is a good idea, because we need a great magnet school. Instead we need to bring back those unique programs, and deliver on the promise that Santa Su was created on. It won't be easy, and it won't be an overnight job, but it's one of the most important tasks the next school board needs to take take on.

Well, there you go again...

Brad,

I don't see where Hannah-Beth Jackson is against a mental hospital. Are you talking about the proposed prison hospital?

brad

did you support peter foy or jim dantona in the county race?

Re: Brian

1. I don't see where Hannah-Beth Jackson is against a mental hospital. Are you talking about the proposed prison hospital?

Yeah, I'm talking about the prison hospital for those with mental conditions. Here's her statement here:

http://progressives.typepad.com/hannahbeth_jackson_blog/2008/07/statement-on-ca.html

Most of all though about her position on the inability for Camarillo's infrastructure, and the fears of prison escapes. I find those as very lackluster reasons for not wanting a mental prison hospital. Without these prison hospitals for those inmates with mental issues instead of rehabilitation and help we instead throw them into the normal prison population causing more problems and solving done. Other than that so far I really like Jackson's platform and her past work. It's a longtime until November though.

I'm kind of sorry I brought up the issue as I don't want to get off topic about what matters to me, and what I'm running for, which of course to help all of Simi Valley Unified School District's students, teachers, parents, and staff.

Re: Simon

1. did you support peter foy or jim dantona in the county race?

Thank you for the question, but as I mentioned above I really want to keep this thread focused on the SVUSD and the issues that concern it. Also, I couldn't actually vote in that election or previous ones except for this year's primary. So while I certainly followed politics and had my favorites I never could actually vote on them. Shoot me an email at IBelieveInBrad at Gmail.com for any non SVUSD questions you have for me.

I am glad you're not going to get distracted... otherwise you might write on a blog something about "mental prison hospitals". Woops.

a couple of svusd trustees endorsed dantona and you admitted that had nothing to do with education.

as a trustee you will not endorse anyone not related to education? how does that encourage anyone to endorse you?

another ballot statement moment.

Re: Simon

This is a Q/A about the SVUSD, and schools not a place for me to make political endorsements. I think the last concern of my campaign will be endorsements.

My understanding is the Performing Arts Center will not only be used by SSHS but will be available for performances by all SVUSD schools. It will make a great asset for the SVUSD.

It is refreshing to read the answers from such a young canidate!

Brad,

What does Zero Tolerance mean to you?

What will you do to bring consensus to the board for more physical education to stem obesity and diabetes?

How will you approach the business community for funds and volunteers and what resources exist today to do this?

Other school districts require laptops for their students. Do you agree with this? If yes, how would you pay for it?

You mention that you won't cut salaries and benefits and that they make up 80% of the budget. What about the non-teaching staff Do they have this protection as well?

What do you make of the fact that Difatta & Sandland do not answer questions on this blog or the education blog you linked to earlier?

Great thread! Sorry to come in so LATE to the discussion (5 days late, and 100+ comments!)

Brad,

Congratulations on your campaign and thanks for your willingness to serve your community. And thanks for putting-up with the yahoos on this blog ;-)

I wanted to clarify something in regard to "failing" schools and "Title 1" schools.

Earlier Scott said to Brian that Simi has/had about 4 "Title 1" schools in Simi: "Why should or shouldn't we consider those in your failing school category? ...Should parents consider leaving these schools for higher performers?"

I'd just like to point out for the record that Title 1 applies to *economically disadvantaged* schools -- NOT performance. Title 1 schools are often assumed to be under-performing schools. However, very often that is not the case. I just wanted to clear that up.

Santa Susana Elementary, for example, receives Title 1 funds... but they are NOT on a PI (performance improvement) plan. Actually, according to online stats collected over 3 years, Santa Su Elem ranked with the top 30% of "statistically similar" schools in CA, and the top 30 or 40% of schools overall.

That not bad, compared to other Simi schools! There are schools in the district performing in the bottom 10% of *statistically similar* schools statewide. That's outrageous!

Brad, I hope you can make improvements.

Brad -

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on how to bring technology into the classrooms. Whether you win this election or not, I think you have some really great ideas.

Someone with your talents, observations and knowledge should work with the Simi Valley Education Foundation. They do a tremendous of amount of work with the district and are made up of community volunteers, business people, and parents. Maybe working with this outstanding organization - is a path where some of your ideas could be shared and possibly implemented.

I want to wish you all the best in this election. Keep your ideas flowing!

Brad Jashinsky,
You don't have to answer off topic questions. You don't have to help these people chase their tales. The people who think the school system can't aren't going to ask real questions. If Donna thinks asking you Senate questions trumps the more serious questions in regards to our school system that's telling in of itself.

Stay focused. Don't let these people steal your ideals. You have over a hundred comments for a reason. You are on to something.

I guess Ray Cruz was on to something with the whole creation thing. Good thread Brad & Brian.

Re: nobodyopolous and Kim

Thank you very much for the support. My goal is to focus on the issues, and stay away from the politics of it throughout the race. That might be naive, but I sure hope not. Thanks again for the support, and please ask away if you have any questions.

Re: Texastract

1. What does Zero Tolerance mean to you?

Currently, I believe Zero Tolerance is a bit out of control in SVUSD and many other school districts. I'm going to be incredibly tough on students who think that bringing drugs, weapons, and violence to school is an ok thing to do. Yet, I feel Zero Tolerance needs to be refined so that we separate the occurrences of someone accidentally bringing a small pocket knife or aspirin to school with those bringing switch blades and illegal drugs to school. I don't want to throw a student out of school, because they brought aspirin to school. For illegal drugs (Including abused prescriptions), fights, and weapons the punishments need to be severe. All of these things are dangerous for our students, and distract from education.

2. What will you do to bring consensus to the board for more physical education to stem obesity and diabetes?

This is a very important issue that we need to figure out how to solve by not taking funds from other programs and also not losing focus of educating students. It's a tough issue, because we are governed by both CA and Washington on teaching our students certain subjects, which leaves PE completely in the dust by Sophomore year, and has cuts into PE funding even earlier. I've been very impressed that most of the junk food and snacks have been replaced with healthier offerings over the last few years. We need to continue this, and in elementary school especially make sure healthy and delicious food is available. Unfortunately, a lot of the daily diet still happens at home so introducing healthy food at school that tastes good will hopefully have students asking for the same at home. The biggest change we can make is to work with the Parks & Rec to better publicize their programs to our student, and to bring back many of these extracurricular programs such as art, music, physical education, etc. I would even be interested in seeing Parks & Recs programs count as credit for students. When students are interested in something they are less likely to only be sitting around watching TV or playing video games. It's going to be an incredibly tough battle to begin seeing results, but it's something that the school board and school district need to work on.

3. How will you approach the business community for funds and volunteers and what resources exist today to do this?

The main thing we need to do is ask, and much of the time that will be enough. When starting my business as a student I received thousands of dollars worth of equipment by just asking. With the strict disposal/recycling requirements for computers and other electronics many companies can save thousands by donating their equipment to the school district. Creating a page on the website seeking what we need and what we need it for is a big first step that doesn't exist. Another page for volunteers will also exist. I want to make it easy for teachers to go to a webpage, and easily/quickly be able to submit a request. Publicizing these website pages to the public through the press and students is how we will get our message out. School board members also need to do a fair share of calling companies, and asking for the equipment we need. Once we begin to seek out these companies and build relationships with them eventually they will be calling us. The last thing I want to do is use resources of the district that are tied to something else, and spend more money to try and get donations. The school board, teachers, and volunteers will be more than enough to get the system off the ground.

4. Other school districts require laptops for their students. Do you agree with this? If yes, how would you pay for it?

No, I don't agree with this, and I believe that while it sounds like a good idea the results are normally wastes of money with a lot of laptops not actually used much for school work. The cost is a big issue, and laptops naturally cost more to buy, repair, and upgrade than desktop computers. A combination of creating more open high-end computer labs open for students for longer hours (Both before and after school) in conjunction with a program that will help students in need afford a computer through working with companies and accepting donations from the community. At my college we have high-end computer labs all over the campus, and that allows students to not even need their own computer. I think that's the most cost effective way to be able to make computers available to more students, and then be able to introduce technology more into the classroom.

5. You mention that you won't cut salaries and benefits and that they make up 80% of the budget. What about the non-teaching staff Do they have this protection as well?

Yes. The first thing a lot of businesses and organizations do when they begin to falter is just begin cutting jobs. This has been shown time and time again not to be an answer, and for the school district it's an even more destructive solution since not only do the students suffer, but the rest of the staff takes on an unfair burden. When you hire in good times, and fire in bad you spend a ridiculous amount of money finding qualified applicants again, training them, and trying to develop that employee culture that develops over the years.

What do you make of the fact that Difatta & Sandland do not answer questions on this blog or the education blog you linked to earlier?

I don't want to speculate on their reasons since I really have no idea. I've met them quite a few times, and I've had some good Q/As with them both at the school board and a few times outside of it. I really hope they do come on here, and learn all of the issues that are important to the community. Only good can come out of that so hopefully we will see them on here before November.

Re: Robert Marston

Thank you for the congratulations, and the support. Thank you for the clarification as well about Title I schools as compared to schools on a performance improvement plan for everyone on this blog. Looking at the test scores, and the other information for our schools there are an alarming amount of elementary schools who are well below the national average. Bringing up those test scores, and turning around the downward trend that these schools have been exhibiting is my top priority.

For any one looking for test scores, and detailed information about each of the school's in the district check out:

http://www.simi.k12.ca.us/EDSERV/sarc_index.html

This kid is too young, inexperienced, and thin-skinned to serve effectively on the Board. Sorry, just telling it like it is.

I disgree completely - I think he is a breathe of fresh air and I love the way he is addressing some hard hitting questions. I think he is a worthy candidate - more worthy than many.

Well, Katie, aren't you the one that has it out for all of the current Board members? I've been reading on other threads that you have some serious axes to grind. Not sure people should be following your advice.

Katie,

I think you meant to say "breath" of fresh air, not "breathe" of fresh air.

Oh, that's right. In Simi's schools, both spellings count as long as you felt you spelled (or spelt) it right.

Trophy for Katie!

I saw that after I posted it - you should see some of my other misspellings! Thank goodness my kids didn't inherit it.

Indeed

Re: Sue

Thank you for the support, and compliments Sue. Sorry for missing your reply over the weekend; I just saw it while taking a second pass of the comments.

The Simi Valley Education Foundation has done, and continues to do great work. The scholarships alone make a huge difference on letting college be an option to many who would otherwise be unable to afford it. I'll send an email to the contact email on the website, and try to come to the next meeting.

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