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CVPPAC QUESTIONS FOR FUSD BOARD OF TRUSTEE ELECTIONS 11/6/12 Name: Carol Mills Telephone: 696-1426 Mailing Address: P.O. Box 828, Fresno, Ca. 93712 Campaign e-mail address & website: email@example.com and www.votecarolmills.com 1. What in your background qualifies you to be an FUSD Trustee? I am the incumbent, so I have several years of experience in the position. I am an attorney, which helps with understanding all the legal rules and guidelines with which the Board and the district must comply. I am the parent of a Fresno Unified graduate, so I can understand a parent’s point of view and assist with navigating the “system.” I am the parent of a college student, so I understand the college application process and pitfalls, and how to prepare for college. Prior to my initial election to the Board, I had served on the School Site Council, including a term as chair, at my son’s school. I also served on two district wide committees, one involving facilities that ultimately led to Measure K; another involving after school programs. Since my election to the Board, I have built good relationships with the Building Trades and Central Labor Council. I have advocated for stronger partnerships with the Building Trades to create career pathways and FUSD now has apprenticeship programs with two trade organizations. I was a strong advocate for improved school facilities, and with Measure Q, many schools in the Fresno High area and throughout the district are seeing improvements to their facilities, including elimination of a lot of portable classrooms. Previously, I advocated for improved athletic facilities and helped form a partnership with the City to accomplish this, leading to a $2 million investment by the City in FUSD athletic facilities. I completed CSBA’s Masters in Governance. I currently serve as a CSBA delegate and governmental relations chair, advocating for our schools, adequate funding for our schools, and funding flexibility at the statewide level. I have the ability to work with people of all different perspectives and backgrounds, as evidenced by the list of those endorsing me. I make decisions based on facts and what is in the best interests of the students, not personalities or political agendas. 2. Describe your perspective on charter schools in FUSD? While I prefer that students be served in a regular public school, school boards need to accept that charter schools are here to stay under state law. School districts are charged with monitoring all charters operating within their district boundaries. Charters can serve as a basis for experimentation on a small scale, to see if different approaches and methods work and can be transferred to regular public schools. The charter approach may also be useful when a school district is unable to try something - such as a longer school day - because of an inability to obtain a waiver under a contract, as happened with Dailey. Each charter needs to be assessed individually, to see if they are addressing the needs of students who otherwise have not achieved in regular public schools, or to see if the charter is trying a new or novel approach. 3. Should FUSD Trustees be on charter school boards? FUSD Trustees have sat on charter school boards at least since CART was initially opened as a charter many years ago. Many Trustees sit on non-profit boards, which are what charter boards are, because it is permitted under state law. I think there should be a distinction between sitting on a wholly independent charter school board and sitting on a dependent board. Regardless, the trustee should recuse him or herself from voting on decisions which affect the charter if on that charter's board. 4. What role does the Fresno Teachers Association play in the educational environment of Fresno Unified School District? What is your view on organized labor? I come from parents who were part of organized labor: my mother was a member of C.W.A. and my father was a postal worker. I consider myself a friend of organized labor, which my endorsement by the Central Labor Council and Building Trades acknowledges. The classroom teacher is on the "front line" and should have a voice in developing educational policies and priorities. The input could come from their representatives, as well as the individual teacher. Teachers should be included on any committees, or at a minimum provided an opportunity to consider any proposed policy or action so they can comment. 5. What are your thoughts on the proposal to create a new school district in the Bullard High area? We were told at the CVPPAC reception that this question was really about splitting the district into two districts, with the split down Blackstone. When Mark Arax and some in Bullard Pride approached the Fresno High area about splitting off with them, overwhelmingly people in the Fresno High area did not support a split from FUSD. I do not support the split. 6. Describe your ideas for addressing the drop out rate in FUSD. No single thing will solve the drop-out problem; it must be a multi-pronged approach. Studies show that three reasons for dropping out are not being on grade level for reading when entering high school; family issues, such as pregnancy or needing to care for family members; and not being engaged in the learning process or connected to the school. Early childhood education with increased pre-school and transitional kindergartens will do much to address the grade level literacy issue. Increasing and making more relevant the career technical education course offerings will engage more students. Making Campus Culture Directors and Athletic Directors full time positions again will help engage more students. Providing non-traditional schools (like J.E. Young or online schools) for those students who don’t thrive in a traditional setting, or who need a school without daily attendance because of family considerations, keeps more students in school and graduating. Partnering with community organizations and others to address the social/emotional needs of the students; working to provide safer neighborhoods; and providing a wide variety of activities and programs to engage all students, will also help reduce drop-outs. Additionally, state law should be changed to provide that no student can drop-out before age 18. I have been a strong advocate for more and improved career technical courses; consequently, the programs at Ft. Miller were re-designed last year and made more relevant to current careers; the same type of re-tooling is underway at Fresno High this year. Thanks to Measure Q, there are funds available for the classroom facilities and equipment needed to increase career technical education throughout the district. I advocated for stronger academic programs and incorporating arts and music: in the Fresno High area, the IB curriculum includes arts and music and participation has increased at FH to over 900 students. The enrollment at Cooper Academy, the IB Middle School for the Fresno High area, exceeds the enrollment that was at the school when it was a “traditional” middle school. IB also has a career technical strand, which I am advocating the high school adopt. 7. Will you commit to FUSD purchasing local fruits and vegetables for school meals (breakfast and lunch) and using school land to grow produce? FUSD already purchases fruits and vegetables from local vendors for inclusion in breakfasts, lunches, and after school snacks. Local vendors include Fresno Produce, Valley Produce, and 1st Quality Produce. The produce purchased includes grapes, oranges, peaches, plums, nectarines, tangerines, cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, carrots, bell peppers, onions, cucumbers, persimmons, zucchini, and tomatoes. I would certainly support increasing FUSD's support of local farmers and vendors whenever possible. School gardens are in place at McLane, Yokomi, Powers, Starr, Rata, Baird, Turner, Duncan, and Eaton. To increase the locations requires a committed teacher at each site to be sure the garden is maintained. 8. Will you commit to opening school gates for community use and physical activity after school and on weekends? FUSD does have school facilities open after school and on weekends for community use at many of our sites, including Fresno High, and I have advocated for this. The problem that has been encountered is that some community members don't respect the school facility and cause damage by inappropriate use. For example, people are misusing the track at Fresno High, which is damaging the all weather track and will create a need for early and expensive repairs. In some cases, such as with Burroughs, the vandalism to the school increases five times over other schools that are not opened similarly, but are in the same general area. FUSD does not have the funds to continually repair all campuses damaged by continued and increased vandalism. There needs to be a happy medium where facilities are open to the community when not in use by students, but facilities are used appropriately and the campuses are not vandalized. Perhaps greater efforts to educate the community about the effect on the schools and student activities from misuse and vandalism would help. 9. What is your position on creationism or intelligent design being taught in FUSD schools? I consider creationism and intelligent design to be part of religious instruction, which is not a function of the public schools. 10. Describe what a CVPPAC endorsement means to you? I have been endorsed previously by CVPPAC and would appreciate their endorsement and financial support again. I have friends who are members of CVPPAC. The CVPPAC endorsement stands for a candidate who is addressing the needs of the students with integrity and with an understanding of, and appreciation for, progressive values. Please input your answer in Word format (less than 350 words each) after each question. When completed, please e-mail your response to CVPPAC Chair, Howard Watkins at firstname.lastname@example.org. To be considered for CVPPAC endorsement, your responses are due no later than 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 11, 2012. Responses may be posted to our website at www.cvppac.org and will be considered in our endorsement decision. Thank you.
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