On Wednesday night, September 24, Mammoth Unified School Districts 2008 candidates for School Board made themselves available to the public during an open question and answer forum held at the Mammoth High School library.
Moderated by MUSD Superintendent Frank Romero, the forum gave the community a chance to put faces and opinions with names.
Incumbents Greg Newbry and Mary Canada participated in the forum even though they are both running unopposed for their four-year terms and their names will not appear on the ballot.
The other three candidates who are running for the two, soon to be vacant two-year terms are John Trujillo, Gloria Vasquez and Jack Farrell.
A peppering of questions came from the audience over the one and half hour forum that ranged from thoughts on the future of the charter school to ideas the candidates have on how to improve communication throughout the community regarding school related issues.
All of the candidates said that they support the charter school and would like to see ways to improve the way it works in the future. In regard to how, while maintaining the charter school, the community could also give more recognition to high-achieving students at Mammoth High School, the candidates all agreed again that all of the students in the community should be given the same opportunities. Incumbent Canada suggested allowing kids at MHS to take course at Cerro Coso Community College the way that the charter school kids are allowed.
When asked what they thought about Sierra Park High School, the continuing education school for students who struggle academically and socially, the candidates again agreed that having that alternative school was great if used as a safety net, not as a permanent solution.
The beauty is when kids go there and get straightened out and then work themselves back in to Mammoth High School, Farrell said.
All of the candidates supported the dual immersion program, and Vasquez stated that it is one of the ways to unify our community.
With 58 percent of our population speaking Spanish, I dont see how we have any choice but to teach them all the same, Trujillo added.
In response to how they would be involved beyond simply attending board meetings, Vasquez and Farrell pointed to their retired states, with Vasquez stating she would be able to spread her schedule evenly between visits to all five schools. Trujillo, who is a coach at the schools, stated he was already at the schools twice a week and that wasnt going to change. Canada stated that her work schedule was flexible enough to give her time to make classroom visits, but Newbry fully admitted that he works two jobs and does not give enough time outside of school board meetings. He added, however, that the few times he had visited classrooms he did not feel were as valuable as when he simply spoke with teachers and students on a one-on-one basis.
Putting surveillance cameras on campus was another topic discussed with Canada, Newbry and Farrell being against them.
Its an extra expense and I would rather see that money go to better textbooks, Farrell said.
Vasquez was for the cameras and Trujillo said they would need to be in addition to live, adult supervision, not in replacement of it.
Lastly, the candidates were asked how they would be cheerleaders for the schools and bring some pride back onto the campuses.
Pride resurfaces when you have a stake in the project, Vasquez said. Therefore we need to reach out to the community and make them feel like they are part of things here.
It should start at home with parents encouraging kids to take part in more activities, Canada said.
The Town isn’t what it used to be, stated Newbry. We are now an outdoor hotel. We need to find a way to allow our facilities to be community facilities as well. Right now it is too pricey.
I have been working on this with my coaching by trying to rebuild the three-sport kid, Trujillo said. Getting kids more involved in sports forces them to do better academically.
The classroom teacher can affect this [pride] the most, but they need support and that’s what the board should do, Farrell concluded.