Weed Elementary School board candidates respond to questions

Liz Pyles and Karen DeRoss
Six candidates are running for three seats on the Weed Union Elementary School board in the Nov. 2, 2010 election. Clockwise from the top left are: Mike Carpine, Regina Weston, Jeff Lee, Melissa Anderson, Jeff Repass and Cynthia Leonard.

As Election Day creeps closer, six candidates for three open positions on the Weed Union Elementary School Board are stepping up their campaigns.

Incumbent Mike Carpine, Melissa Anderson and Cynthia Leonard are running for two full term positions on the board. Incumbent Jeff Repass, Regina Weston and Jeff Lee are all vying for one short term position.

To learn more about the candidates and their platforms, each of them was submitted a questionnaire. Their responses follow.

Q:?How have you previously been involved with the community and Weed Elementary School?

Lee: I have two children that attend WES. I have been involved in Cub Power for the past two years and have helped organize many of the events the Cub Power has put on during this time period. I had the opportunity to be Senior Project Mentor and have been involved in developing disc golf courses at both Weed and Mount Shasta High Schools along with a course at COS.

Repass: Previous to joining the WES board, I did not have much involvement in the community other than supporting high school and other small community functions such as fundraisers. I dealt with many of the food service businesses locally mostly as a service provider. I also have attended Weed Berean Church for the past 12 years.

Weston: I was born and raised in Weed, and I attended both WES and WHS. I returned to Weed six years ago to raise my daughter who is now a 6th grader at WES. I also have a three year old who will be attending WES in just two years time.  Through my position at Siskiyou Child Care Council I am a member of the Local Child Care Planning Council and the Siskiyou Early Childhood Team.  The community as a whole is very important to me and that is why I began the College Ave. Area neighborhood watch program. Through meeting with the Weed Police Department, COS and concerned neighbors we have seen a definite decrease in activity in the neighborhood and we have strengthened the relationship between the college and neighborhood. 

Carpine: I’m a member of the Parks and Recreation Board and I was born, raised lived here my whole life. I’m a member of Holy Family and I’ve coached Little League and minors when my children were young. I also coached basketball clinics through Parks and Recreation for many years, and I’m actively involved at WHS as a coach and a member of the Hall of Fame Committee and at WES as a board member for two years.

Leonard: My son attended and graduated from WES, and both my children attended and graduated from WHS. I was involved in a board subcommittee as a parent volunteer, and I have been involved with the community through my work at the COS and currently with Siskiyou Child Care Council.

Anderson: I am a second generation Weed native. I attended the Weed schools.

I am actively involved with the Girl Scouts of Northern California troops.  I have been a leader for four years and I am also an adult facilitator for the program.  

I have also been involved with the Weed Youth Baseball program. I have coached for two years and I have committed to the program for the following year. Some of my players attend WES.

I worked at WES as a temporary business manager in 2002-2003 and I worked as a temporary teacher in the 2007-2008 school year.

Q: What do you feel are the district's most important issues right now?

Lee: Obviously funding and the budget. This impacts our fundamental educational structure and how and what opportunities our children have.

I also feel that our school's structure is undergoing another change and that we have the opportunity to build for sustainability in the future.

Repass: The District right now has one main focus, get out of Program Improvement. This main focus has so many facets attached to it, but our staff has shown that it has what it takes to step up to the plate and I believe this year they will have even more support and opportunities to better themselves and receive more help.

Second, I believe that the District’s next most important goal is to educate parents and involve the community. Without family support kids cannot be kids, their minds are clouded with worries, they are forced to grow up too fast and their innocence is stolen from them as they are not built to handle grown up decisions.

Weston: Of course we are all feeling the pinch given the current situation with the state budget. It will be challenging to figure out ways to save money and cut costs during this tough economic climate. How do we continue to offer our children the best educational opportunities with what little we have? I also believe that the main issue facing the District is the school's API score. It is tremendous that with all the hard work and effort put in last year by staff and parents that we were able to raise the API score from a 715 to a 751.  And while that is a wonderful accomplishment, we still have a long road ahead to get to the 800 required by No Child Left Behind.  It is going to take a continued commitment from everyone to get there.

Carpine: I feel the number one goal for the District right now is student achievement. To have the philosophy and understanding that as educators our number one job: to ensure that every student will learn.

The budget is another big issue. Using our creativity as a board to work with the budget to continue to provide the school the services needed to run effectively and efficiently.

To make sure that the staff and administration is doing what is necessary to meet the goals of the school.  To make sure that we have staff that is highly qualified.

To ensure that WES is a safe school environment.  Also to make sure that improvements that are needed to the school are being made at all times.

Leonard: I believe that we need to continue the efforts of the former principal to raise the test scores, obtain more parent involvement, and improve communication between teachers and parents. I believe that good communication and parent involvement is essential in the education of children. Without it, teachers have a much more difficult task.

Anderson: The District has been in Program Improvement due to low standardized test scores.

Changes have already begun to happen at the school, but many more changes need to happen in order to put the school back on top and push them out of PI.

Students are leaving WES.  Therefore, the school is losing valuable funding. The District needs to examine the reasons why students are leaving and address them so that they may encourage students to come back to the school.

In prior meetings, it appears that parents are feeling as though there is a communication breakdown with parents and District community. Parents want to feel like part of the school and would like the board and administration to provide explanations that are honest, fair and consistent.

Q: How do you feel you can make positive changes in that/those issues?

Lee: I have a good background in dealing with budgets and adding value to a business.  I have a very strong background in building teams and coaching to utilize people's strengths.  I  have gone through extensive training in process improvement and fundamental culture change.

Repass: I feel that I can encourage our teachers and staff as I see them at school and in the community. I can reach out to the children at soccer which in turn puts me in a position to influence them on a more personal level and allows me to be available as a friend. As I become more involved in cub power and the community I can encourage the parents and community as well as help educate them about what is happening. As I earn their trust and learn to understand them I can be a better voice for the community as a board member.

Weston: Last year we made great strides in building the relationships between parents and the school. Through meetings regarding the school being in Program Improvement, parents were able to understand what we are up against.  I would like to see that continue through more "Family Nights" at the school, where we will have parents and staff to interact on a more personal level.  Now more than ever it is imperative that we look at other ways to work with what we have, and be creative.

Carpine: I feel that people in our community know me and my reputation is one that I am here to do the job and make decisions as to what is best for our schools.

I am passionate and truly concerned about our school and believe in our Weed schools, evident by my participation in our schools.

I am readily available and able to spend time on projects and issues and to see that these projects are being followed through with and issues are being resolved in what is best for our school.

Staying informed and a part of the community and giving my time to the school that is needed to make informed decisions.

I understand the dynamics of how a school runs and the dynamics and diversity of our community.  I understand the commitment of being a part of a unique and small community like Weed.  I am able to communicate with teachers, administrators, students, parents and community members the

importance of taking pride and supporting our school.

Bottom line is I have been a part of this community for 62 years. Those of you that know me know that my heart and the decisions I will make will be in the best interest for our school and our students. I am not running to just fill a position or for personal agenda, I am dedicated, committed and believe in our school, students, staff and parents.

Leonard: I feel my skills as a liaison could help with the communication between the administration and the parents. I also believe that once the parents feel they are being heard by the administration, they would be more apt to become more involved in their child's/children's education.

Q: What would you point to in your background that makes you a good candidate for the position?

Lee: I currently am the Value Stream/Veneer Buffer Manger for Roseburg Forest Products.  I have been involved in union negotiations, budgeting, and managing at many different levels.  I have been an integral part of a team that runs the largest private employer business in our county.  I have a passion for building teams and adding value to the bottom line.

Repass: I believe that I am a good candidate for the board because I have two young children that will be attending WES starting next year. I have been a leader in youth groups, camp counselor, youth ski instructor, social worker, not to mention I feel like a kid at heart. This allows me to relate on their level.

Weston: I am currently employed at Siskiyou Child Care Council as a Program Assistant for Resource & Referral.  In my position I am able to share my love of children, and my passion for better learning and education for all children by offering trainings to child care providers and other Early Childhood Professionals.  I work closely with parents to help them find the resources that they need to make informed decisions regarding child care.  I also have a background in Psychology and Child Development.  In my previous job at High Desert Education Service District in Bend, Oregon, we provided services to children with disabilities in the classroom. I managed budgets for the various programs and that gave me an understanding of how the school budget process works.  I also served at the Vice President/Treasurer of the classified employees union.

Carpine: I have been involved in education for 20 years as a counselor.  I have worked with administration, teachers, students and parents in making educational decisions in the best interest for all involved. This position I feel  is a partnership between all including the community of Weed.

By living and being actively involved in this community for 62 years I have a good idea of the diversity and needs of our school and community. I am dedicated to Weed and the schools.

Leonard: I have always been an advocate for both my children's education and the education of others. I feel my background of working with parents and children will help in my duties with the board. I have worked with both state and federal budgets and I understand regulations. I also have a BA in Psychology with a minor in Child and Adolescent Development.

Anderson: I am a great candidate for this position because I have a very strong accounting background, not just with business, but specifically with school budgets.  I am a credentialed teacher with 5 years of teaching experience.  Therefore, this makes me an ideal candidate for this position.

With the dwindling revenue that the school is experiencing, it is becoming increasingly important for the administration and board members of the school to understand the budget and work together to create the best learning environment for students. When I worked for the district as their Business Manager, I became very knowledgeable about their different budgets and helped to reallocate specific budget items to better reflect the activity of the school.  My experience will help me to actively work with the district to use the resources available to provide the best education possible for all students at Weed Elementary School.

My experience as a classroom teacher has given me a good understanding of what is needed to perform the job effectively.   Budget cuts are making it harder for teachers to perform effectively.  As a board member, I understand that budget cuts are necessary, but I hope to encourage that these cuts are as far away from the classrooms as possible.  Students deserve the best possible education and teachers deserve the resources necessary to perform their jobs.  I am prepared to serve as a board member who realizes that cuts hurt students and will work hard to protect the integrity of the classroom instruction.

Good communication with parents is a necessity that is very important for the many changes that are happening in education.  Communicating the changes to all stakeholders is mandatory in order for the district to improve the education of the students.  I am prepared to continue to be an active listener as well as a strong communicator with the school and the local community.

Q: What is your interest in running for the board?

Lee: Again, I have two children that attend WES.  If I expect to improve the process of their education I need to be part of the team that makes that happen.  I feel the board is the tool that best fits my strengths to help improve on our school's successes.  I strongly feel that input should come with a solution not just the problem.

Repass: I think that in the past ten months or so since I have joined the board, started coaching U-6 soccer and begun to attend the cub power meetings my interests have taken a slightly different turn. I started out just wanting to find out what to expect for my kids and had the idea that I would do as much as possible to benefit "my family".

Though these goals are still there I have realized that "our school" is just that, our families, our kids, our kids friends, our community and furthermore our future. I was living in a diluted version of the real state of our community as it relates to our kids, their quality of life(both economically and family wise) and the state of our education system.

You know we at WES have a great teaching staff and this is shown by the huge jump in our testing scores that have kept us form going into year two of program improvement. 40% of the state of California's budget is education and if you look at it as just a percentage it seems like a lot and so whenever the state needs to make cuts it takes it from the "forty percent".

Our school systems are already running a "skeleton crew" and so each year it becomes more important to make sure that we make well calculated decisions as to what programs get cut or stay and what are the best long term benefits to our decisions so that by the time your kids make it to school there is still a school for them to attend, one that will actually prepare them for life.

By me joining the board I hope to, most importantly, encourage parents, and community to take a more active role in our school. In the course of six or seven months, I saw maybe one parent show up to a board meeting. At the last cub power meeting there were 10 to 15 people, three or four of them were staff.......great, but is that all? We have 300 some students. My fear is that parents are in the same diluted dream that I was, we need a burden for the kids.

Weston: I am here for our children.  That is the reason I am running for Weed Elementary School Board and plan on being here for the long haul. Many changes have occurred at our school over the past year and there has been some parent disconnect. I made the decision to run for the school board because I believe that people know that I am doing this for the right reasons.

Carpine: To ensure that WES continues to work toward the AIMS of our school and that we never lose sight of our mission and vision.  I want to ensure that the students leaving WES are prepared for the next level of education.  I want the WES staff to be able to receive the staff development needed for them to teach the curriculum and also meet the goals of their students and the goals of the school.

I also want to stay active in the community of Weed and in education. Bottom line I want to help make the decisions necessary to improve student learning and school success.

Leonard: I have been interested in becoming more involved in my community for some time now. Now that my children are grown and have families of their own, I am able to invest the time to give back to my community. Because I am an advocate for education, I feel this position would be a good fit for me.

Anderson: Weed Elementary School is what helped prepare me for my adulthood and I see this opportunity as a way for me to give back to my Alma Mater.  In addition, I have many supporters who encouraged me to run and help make the school a better place for the students, parents and staff.

Q:?Why should people vote for you?

Lee: I have a vested interest in what is most important about our school and that is our children.

Repass: I really do care about our kids, their families, and their education. I have a vested interest with my kids. I want the teachers and staff to know that I appreciate them, which encourages them and keeps them motivated. I don't want to wear out our teachers by ignoring the real problems that they face and I want the parents to feel like they have a voice in what goes on. So I will be a volunteer, a leader and part of the community.

Weston: I have a vested interest in the success of this school and for all children.  Weed is my home, and I want to see the children of our community succeed. I am here for the right reasons, and I have no agenda, other than ensuring that our children get the best educational opportunities possible. I am here for our children. That is why I feel that I would make an excellent addition to the WES board and would appreciate your support.

Carpine: I want people to know that I am running for the right reasons.  I have been a part of this community for 62 years. I have been through the Weed schools, as well as my children and grandchildren and I am committed to our schools and our community. I believe in our school, staff, students, parents and members in our community and the fact that we all want what is best for our children.

I have been involved in education for 20 years and understand and realize the operations of running an effective school and the District. I want to help guide the school in the right direction.

Leonard: I am hoping that my background and my strong beliefs to do right by our children will be enough to get parents to vote for me. But I really hope that parents and others just get out to vote and/or get involved in our children's education and future. That is what is really important to me.

Anderson: I encourage people to vote for me as I am willing to put the promises and words of the board into action for the betterment of the school. I pride myself on integrity, honesty, and ethical practices. In addition, I have no relation to anyone employed at the school or anyone who currently serves on the board. I hope to help parents have a voice that is heard by the board and the administration.