All three candidates running for the two contested seats on the San Luis Coastal school board would bring knowledge, experience and valuable insights to the school board.
That said, we believe the two incumbents, Kathryn Rogers and Marilyn Rodger, have demonstrated their ability to lead the district through one of the most financially turbulent periods in its history and deserve to be re-elected.
So far, the district has managed to avoid layoffs. Nor have we seen the drastic cuts to athletics, transportation and other programs that some districts around the state have been forced to make.
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Test scores have remained consistently high. In the latest round of testing, two campuses — Teach and Los Ranchos — were the top-scoring elementary schools in the county.
The board hired a new superintendent who’s focused on even greater academic gains.
On the environmental front, the district is seeking to install solar panels on many of its campuses — a move that will not only cut energy costs, but will also serve as a model for other government institutions.
Without a doubt, credit for such accomplishments goes to the entire district, but to the extent that the school board is ultimately responsible for many decisions, we believe it makes sense to maintain the current leadership.
We also like the varied backgrounds the two incumbents bring to the board:
Kathryn Rogers was an assistant college dean at Earl Warren College at UC San Diego before moving here in 2003. She also was a television screenwriter and executive producer of two TV series, which gave her experience dealing with budget and personnel issues.
She has two sons in district schools and has been active on school campuses as a classroom volunteer, booster club president and play and variety show director. In 2007, she was appointed to the board and then ran unopposed in 2008.
We especially like her take on boosting student achievement.
“Where we seem to do well is down the middle,” she said, adding that there is room for improvement at the ends of the spectrum — the higher achieving and lower achieving students.
“We want to see them move the needle in progress,” said Rogers.
When test scores are already good, it’s easy to become complacent — we commend Rogers for acknowledging that there’s still room for improvement.
Marilyn Rodger also became involved in the schools when her children were young. She served on school site councils, a budget team and a GATE advisory board. She was first elected to the school board in 2002.
Rodger describes herself as the “blue collar member” on the school board and one of the most accessible; in her job at Miner’s Ace Hardware in Los Osos, she’s in contact with district parents and students on a daily basis.
For Rodger, avoiding layoffs is clearly a high priority. “Anybody laid off in this economy is very unlikely to find employment again,” she told the editorial board.
We admire her empathy and we, too, hope the district can avoid layoffs. However, we question whether Rodger will be able to make the tough budget decisions should the time come.
The main mission of a school district isn’t to provide employment — it’s to educate students.
In passing a budget, school board members have a duty to take a balanced, realistic approach that considers all their constituents — students, teachers, classified employees, parents and yes, taxpayers.
While we do have that concern, we believe that Rodger’s experience and leadership gained over the past eight years, in addition to her strong rapport with the community, make her a strong choice for school board.
The Tribune strongly urges voters in the San Luis Coastal Unified School District to re-elect Kathryn Rogers and Marilyn Rodger.
The Tribune’s endorsement
Race: San Luis Coastal Unified School District, Trustee Area 2 (Los Osos/Morro Bay)
Term: Four years
Salary: Monthly stipend of approximately $250; eligible for health benefits offered to district employees
Candidates: Kathryn Rogers, incumbent; Marilyn Rodger, incumbent; Jim Quesenberry, retired teacher
The Tribune endorses: Kathryn Rogers, Marilyn Rodger