School board hopefuls share priority

The three candidates seeking two seats on the San Luis Coastal school board agree that assessing student progress is one of the key challenges facing the district.

Incumbents Kathryn Eisendrath Rogers and Marilyn Rodger are seeking re-election in trustee area No. 2, which includes Los Osos and Morro Bay. In addition, retired teacher Jim Quesenberry is seeking one of the two contested seats.

Four seats of the seven-member board are up for election.

However, incumbents Mark Buchman and Ellen Sheffer are running unopposed for trustee area No. 1, which represents San Luis Obispo, Avila Beach and unincorporated areas south of San Luis Obispo.

Rogers, 58, said she would like to see student assessments extend beyond the progress charted throughout the year and into the next school year and beyond.

“We expect to see each and every student — whether an English language learner, socio-economically disadvantaged, a middle of the pack learner or an advanced learner — move the need to progress every year,” Rogers said.

Quesenberry, 61, said that teachers and administrators, with board oversight, need to determine how, when and what will be assessed.

“Their joint decisions should drive in-service programs to improve teaching and student learning,” Quesenberry said.

In-service programs are a form of training that teachers receive at their schools.

Rodger, 56, said that the school district’s changing demographics, which include a larger population of homeless students and students in poverty, need to be incorporated into the school board’s approach to student achievement.

“We are there for students to be successful learners,” Rodger said.

The budget is also a chief concern of the candidates.

In April, the school board faced the largest budget shortfall in a decade and were asked to consider more than $9.8 million in cuts from the district’s $74 million budget.

Quesenberry said that tough decisions will need to be made to deal with flat or declining revenue.

“We must not diminish or jeopardize the students’ classroom instruction,” he said.

Rodger said finding additional sources of revenue needs to be a priority.

“We need to be good stewards of the financial resources that we have, and develop projects that will generate ongoing revenue streams such as leasing out unused school sites,” Rodger said.

Allocating existing resources to move student achievement to the next level is also needed, Rogers said.

“Our test scores are good and continue to rise but we could be doing even better,” Rogers said.

“We could be blowing the lid off. But test scores aren’t the goal,” she added. “Good scores are the result of good teaching that arouses curiosity, develops critical thinking and instills a joy of learning.”

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.