Budget challenges, infrastructure needs, student achievement and teacher demands are among the key issues of concern in the San Luis Coastal school board race, featuring four candidates vying for two seats in the district’s Trustee Area 2 covering Los Osos and Morro Bay.
The candidates — Jim Quesenberry, Evelyn Frame, Marilyn Rodger, and Victoria Dandurand — shared their views with The Tribune and some biographical information to help voters get to know them. Quesenberry and Rodger are the incumbents.
Two additional candidates, Mark Buchman and Ellen Sheffer, in the district’s Trustee Area 1 — covering San Luis Obispo, Avila Beach, a portion of Pismo Beach — are incumbents running unopposed.
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Biographical information: Two daughters and two stepsons, who all graduated from San Luis Coastal schools. Grandson currently attends Monarch Grove Elementary
Occupation: Retired secondary teacher with 36 years of teaching high school and middle school, including 22 years at Morro Bay High School
Volunteer work: People Helping People, Los Osos Cares, and Rotary Los Osos
Why do you want to run for school board? “To continue to improve and promote public education, which I believe is the key to the future success of our children, community and country. Second, I want to continue to enhance our instructional program and narrow the achievement gap between our children in poverty and those children who are not. Our own assessments and state assessments indicate that we are making headway, but the achievement gap is difficult to bridge. Our district will succeed by continuing to promote pre-kindergarten, offering parent education and support, and continuing to focus on instructional strategies that fully engage every student. Finally, I am eager to finish the renovation of our high schools so that they become places of innovation with multiple pathways to college and careers.”
Biographical information: Daughter who attended San Luis Coastal district and is now a second-year law student
Occupation: Retired Los Angeles Unified, Santa Maria Bonita, San Luis Coastal teacher (in reading, English learner instruction)
Volunteer work: Currently, running for school board
Why do you want to run for school board? “I fully support parent choice for Teach, Pacheco, and neighborhood schools. In fact school choice needs not only to be supported, but the Board needs to find new ways to expand parent choice. Project-based learning was the number one parent response on how to improve the district’s academic programs. The district needs to support parent input into their school of their choice. This is not about pitting schools and parents against each other. It’s about coming together as we look for solutions with reduction in funds. Independent voice, equity, and outreach to all were the reasons that the San Luis Coastal Teacher’s Association only endorsed me. Teachers also are feeling they are in overdrive on district-mandated testing. With recent and ongoing changes to curriculum and testing, teachers’ prep time has been impacted. There are a lot of teachers that would like to see changes that would be of no cost to the district. Teachers are the heart of any classroom. Listen to the voice of teachers and vote for fresh ideas and solutions.”
Biographical information: She and her husband are 30-year residents of Los Osos, having raised their son and daughter in the county. Both kids attended San Luis Coastal schools and are now college graduates
Occupation: Retired retail manager; previously, construction contracts administrator for several commercial and industrial builders in Silicon Valley
Volunteer work: Los Osos Community Coalition/Los Osos Cares
Why do you want to run for school board? “We need to maintain our focus on early childhood programs such as our “Success for All” Preschool that has served nearly 500 economically disadvantaged students in San Luis Coastal since 2013. I value the educational options the district is able to provide to parents to choose the school that best suits their child’s needs and learning styles. We have partnered with Central Coast Coalition for Inclusive Schools (CCC4IS), Tranz Central Coast, and GALA to improve the way we create safer schools for all of our students in San Luis Coastal. This partnership is viewed through a three- to five-year lens to ensure it becomes part of our district’s commitment to inclusivity and equity. I remain energized and focused on educating and providing a safe environment for all of our students. I am deeply involved as a trustee and see our trajectory as a district being positive and important to sustain. I believe we are at a critical juncture as a district and feel my role as a veteran trustee will assist us as we move forward.”
Biographical information: Morro Bay resident who went to Cal Poly for undergrad and graduate school (22-year area resident); daughters are in 10th grade at SLO High
Occupation: Owner of Harmony Glassworks with her husband; part-time employee of Cayucos Elementary School
Volunteer work: Central Coast STEM board member, Cayucos Elementary School PTA; Cayucos and Coast Union school board (four-year terms at each); Orfalea Children’s Center at Cal Poly-Parent Advisory Council, Girl Scouts, Cayucos Lioness
Why do you want to run for school board? “While attending a board meeting at Morro Bay High School regarding Measure D just before school starting, it became clear that management of resources through timely decision-making is critical. While speaking with the SLCUSD teachers association members, it’s clear there are areas that could be emphasized and not forgotten, particularly in our children’s classrooms. I am interested in the Common Core roll-out and how that is being supported through professional development. It’s imperative that teachers are held in high esteem and trained, as they are the first line in our children’s education, after our responsibility as parents. The Next Generation Science Standards are particularly interesting to me and I think it will be an area of focus for the district, at least for the next four years (the duration of this term). Special education, English learner programs, adult education, the alternative high school, sports, AP programs, agricultural programs, and the arts are all important in meeting the needs of students. All of these areas produce data and are measured and can be quantified.”