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: firstname.lastname@example.org and
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 email@example.com. 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.