Mount Shasta's Gregg Gunkel said serving as a trustee on the Siskiyou Union High School District would be "a natural progression" of his career in education so far.
Since retiring as principal of Scotts Valley High School in 2010, Gunkel says he now has the time and opportunity to share his skills and knowledge "fresh from the trenches."
Gunkel is challenging incumbent trustee Linda Wallace to represent Area 2 on the Nov. 6 ballot. He has been a teacher, curriculum consultant, technology director, principal and superintendent during his 33 year career in public education. Twenty-six of those years were spent in Siskiyou County schools, including 10 years as Mount Shasta High School principal.
Gunkel currently coordinates the high school ski league and serves on the Mt. Shasta Race Association Board.
Gunkel said with his range of experience he has first-hand knowledge of how the school system works and knows how to "effectively work within the system to accomplish important things."
"As a trustee, your authority is limited to board policy, district expenditures and oversight of the superintendent(s)," Gunkel said. "Improvements can't come from the top down; they need to come from the teachers in order to be successful....
I think the most important role of a board member is to empower the district, site administrators and teaching staff."
Gunkel said trustees should be mouthpieces for the constituents, be accessible, and accurately convey concerns and ideas, while acting as "guardians" of the district.
He said he understands board functions, school district policies, meeting protocol and Brown Act regulations.
He also has experience using technology to promote learning in classrooms, he said.
Gunkel spoke about the new ideas currently being implemented in the district, including the splitting of the superintendent's duties to three people.
"We shouldn't be quick to judge until we have an opportunity to evaluate," Gunkel said. "We're going where no one has gone before, and the idea deserves to be tested."
Gunkel said SUHSD schools should be working for the full scope of students, including those with learning disabilities and those who excel.
"There has to be a balance, we need a quality of education at every level," Gunkel said. "We need to make sure education is rigorous and challenging, and most of all, engaging, so (students) gain a sense of passion for the learning process."
As for Propositions 30 and 38, Gunkel said he feels they "fall short of meeting what the needs of schools really are... Education funding needs to be a bigger goal at the state and federal level."
He said it's difficult to convince an aging population with no children in school that bonds and higher taxes would be valuable.
"Public education is the cornerstone of our country. It has to be funded, and we have to be willing to find it," he said.
Gunkel moved to Mount Shasta from North Lake Tahoe more than 30 years ago with his wife, Patty.
"We were rewarded with a fantastic school system that provided my career and education for my children from preschool all the way to junior college... there is a continuity and quality that really elevated my children's skills and ability to become successful adults," Gunkel said.
Both Gunkel's children attended Mount Shasta schools and graduated from MSHS in 1999 and 2000, respectively.
Gunkel said the more successful the schools are, the higher regard they'll get regionally and in turn, they'll attract more students.
"Our schools have to be shining stars," Gunkel said. "We want people to say, 'I want my kid to go there.'"
More about Gunkel can be found at ggunkel.com.