Novato School Fuel, a group that raises money for local schools recently held a forum to get to know candidates running for the Novato Unified School Board. They include Shelly Scott, Miguel Garza, Maria Aguila and Derek Knell. Patch will feature profiles of all the candidates this week.
To see more of our elections coverage visit http://novato.patch.com/news/elections
Deputy appraiser for Marin County Assessor’s Office. Current school board member, Parks and open space Commissioner. Parent of two children. Working on a volunteer program with Parks and Open Space Commission to get high school students involved in community projects.
How will you attract and retain quality teachers?
“We’re a low-wealth district (lower property values than the rest of Marin County, which means less money for schools and lower teacher salaries.) However, I’m interested in exploring idea of more teacher-housing, that could be a way to keep teachers from leaving for southern Marin.”
Should we educate all children as if they are college bound or should we more vocational programs be created?
“We should work with College of Marin and Indian Valley to create a schedule that works for high schoolers so they can get some of their GE requirements out of their way. This would help parents save money and get teens going on their college track.”
“We also need to work on some of the transportation issues to help get our kids there.”
What are you proud of during your time on the school board?
“We have pre-schools at several elementary schools, we developed STEM (a program for high school students focusing on more advanced science, technology and math). We’ve also refinanced one of our loans, saving residents $272,000 per year. Given the Great Recession and all the state cuts, this board has done a phenomenal job keeping class sizes relatively small, had no reduction in school days. We also partnered with the city to build a new stadium and recently approved a new pool that will serve both high schools.”
As the number of Latino students in Novato grow, what is your strategy for hiring more bilingual staff so that bicultural needs of our students are met?
“We’re hiring a director for our English Language Learner students and working with the Haas Foundation. Studies show that if we can get to these kids earlier, they’re going to be that much more ready in subsequent grades. Our grades for ELLs are improving, so the board takes this very seriously.”
What are you going to do to improve the morale of the district’s classified staff?
“It’s about respect and one of our greatest assets is our teachers and staff… In terms of morale, I’m hoping this is a partnership and I’m looking to do better by our folks.”