Siskiyou Union High School District voters will have three choices on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot for two available full term trustee positions in Area 1, which includes Weed and Lake Shastina.
Incumbent Sue Tavalero is running for relection against Jana Blevins and Chris Pappas. One of the positions was previously held by Joe Blevins, who passed away in June.
All residents of the district, regardless of which Area they live in, can vote for all SUHSD trustee positions. The top two vote-getters in Area 1 will be elected.
Only four of the seven current trustees are assured of retaining their seats: Margaret DeBortoli of McCloud, Jay Clark of Happy Camp, and Lori Harch and John Hines of Mount Shasta. Incumbent Linda Wallace is running against Gregg Gunkel to represent Area 2.
While each of the Area 1 candidates say they have ties to the Weed area and the Siskiyou Union High School District in general, each believes their special set of skills and individual backgrounds would best serve the board.
Jana Blevins, a retired school secretary and coach who has rarely missed a school board meeting in more than 10 years, said she’d like to follow in her husband’s footsteps. She said she’s familiar with all pressing issues currently facing the district and is not afraid to speak her mind.
Sue Tavalero enjoys being involved in the community, and has served as the SUHSD board president for the past year. Her two children graduated from Weed High School and she wants to continue as a trustee to help implement project based learning and to oversee changes, such as the transition from one superintendent to three.
Chris Pappas said he has a vested interest in the district because he has three students who are either already in the SUHSD system or soon will be. As a volunteer coach and local business owner, Pappas believes he will be able to accurately convey concerns of his constituents.
Below (in the order they filed their paperwork with County Clerk Colleen Setzer) is a little about each candidate’s background, their stances on educational issues, and their takes on why they want the position.
Blevins is a retired school secretary and coach of 30 years who rarely misses a school board meeting.
“As a member of the Siskiyou Union High School District board, we are all responsible to represent the whole district,” said Blevins, though she’s very familiar with Weed residents and feels she can accurately and passionately convey their concerns and desires.
“My doctor, dentist, and home is in Weed. Joe coached at Weed High School and I had a chance to get to know the students, staff, coaches, and many parents and students. My husband did a good job, and I would try to follow in his footsteps and honor his memory,” she said.
If elected, Blevins would like to guard the public interest and see everybody’s voice heard and respected. She’d also like to see more critical board discussion of the issues.
“I would also like to see more community participation at board meetings,” said Blevins, pointing out that she is often the only person that stays through an entire meeting until the end, sometimes four or five hours later. “I think there might be more interest and participation if the meetings were shorter,” she said.
“My experience is extensive. I’ve worked closely with administration, parents and students... I’ve been involved with PTSO, Site Council, the California School and Employee Association negotiation committee, and the Siskiyou Grand Jury.”
Because she was a school employee, Blevins said she has an “insider’s perspective.” She often expresses her opinion during public comment at board meetings.
“I think the financial state of our state is very dismal. I feel that people in the state and in the country are about taxed out,” Blevins said of Propositions 30 and 38, which will be on the ballot Nov. 6. “I would be surprised if they pass... The farther we can look down the road and adjust before something happens, the better we’ll be. We need to be prepared, and not have school management by crisis.
“My husband and I dedicated our whole lives to kids and our fellow employees and the school. I feel a responsibility to give back to the community,” Blevins said.
Tavalero was first elected to the SUHSD board in 2008 and wants to continue for another four years in order to continue building the district’s innovative project based learning policies and the new superintendent configuration.
The SUHSD board president for the past year, Tavalero said she’d like to work on keeping programs despite the difficult budget.
She was first motivated to run for the school board because she wants the best for every student in the district.
“I just love the kids,” Tavalero said, “and I want every decision to be made with them in mind.”
Her own two children were enrolled at Weed High School when she ran for the board in 2008 and have since graduated.
Since moving to Weed from Redding 19 years ago, Tavalero has served on the Weed Recreation and Parks District board and is involved with the Weed Fire Department.
Until recently, she worked as an instructional aide at College of the Siskiyous in the Student Athlete Study Hall. She said she saw firsthand some of the challenges facing young people today.
Of the statewide propositions 30 and 38, Tavalero said, “If I thought all the money would go to the schools, I would be 110 percent in support of them. But when I read them, I see the money goes to the General Fund and then to the schools, and that makes me a little leery of them.”
Tavalero said she’s involved in the community and takes time to talk to people about issues while she’s out and about in order to accurately reflect their concerns during board discussions.
Pappas said he has a vested interest in SUHSD schools. He is the father of a Weed High School sophomore and has children in seventh and eighth grade at Butteville Elementary.
A general building contractor since 1993 and owner of four Subway restaurants (including those in Weed and Mount Shasta), Pappas is also a volunteer coach for youth soccer, Little League, Siskiyou Knights football, Siskiyou Junior Golf, and the Butteville Elementary basketball teams.
Pappas has a BA in Business Marketing from Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo.
Pappas said he’s a good listener and takes time to hear all sides of an issue. He’s also patient. Though he has no specific objective to accomplish if elected, Pappas said when his four year term is up, he’d like to see the district “in better shape than when I found it.”
“I have no complaints about how the district currently functions, but things can always be improved,” Pappas said. “I know the district has a vision, and I think we can expand on that.
“Regarding propositions 30 and 38, I’m anticipating a statement from the current board regarding a support or non-support for the measures,” Pappas said. “I would hope that this statement would include details of ramifications if neither one passes... and what would the future be if they did pass. I will say, I am skeptical of Sacramento’s ability to manage the taxpayers’ money and properly fund our school system.”
Pappas said as a father of three children quickly approaching college age, he’s “happy to see the current board concerned about creating college and career readiness for high school students.”
“I hope to continue the discussion... In 1985 the US had the most college graduates in the world. Today we rank 16th. By 2018, three-quarters of the jobs will require a post secondary education. Both trends are alarming and in order to get on the right track, I strongly feel we must focus on creating college and career readiness by maintaining a college-going culture in our schools.”