Every week until the election, we will have a question for the DJUSD School Board Candidates. We have a word limit of roughly 350.
Please also see the Vanguard Candidate’s forum from Sunday, September 18.
Question 3: Go to the District Dollars page: http://www.districtdollars.org/values. Do the survey with the values you have and take a screen shot and send it to me.
Thanks for highlighting the District Dollars program through this question. The values exercise was created for our first launch in 2009, when the board was faced with budget reductions. We vetted the survey with UC Davis-affiliated survey specialists and our employee associations to establish clear, neutral language around each of the concepts. Transcend Translations provided pro bono plain language, Chinese and Spanish translations. Steve McMahon and Tsui Chang of Davis Community Network were particularly helpful in developing the online program, and the Stuart Foundation provided a small grant. We’ve been able to update the program every year, through the continued collaboration of DCN and district administration. We’ve been contacted a number of times by school districts around the state who have expressed interest in developing a similar tool for their communities. It’s been a real pleasure to work on the project.
Candidates were asked to fill out the “values guide” on the District Dollars website as an indication of what priorities we have for our schools. I question the usefulness of this particular survey due the high degree of interconnectedness between the values listed. For example, low teacher to student ratios will help students needing extra academic support in addition to better preparing them for productive jobs whether they enter the workforce out of high school, a community college, or with a graduate research degree. Having safe, well-functioning, and well-maintained school environments staffed by excellent teachers and staff contribute significantly to making schools enjoyable places to be and to enhance learning. Sports, music, and art programs, along with participation in extracurricular club activities, help connect students to their schools and ultimately contribute to a well-rounded citizenry. Magnet programs allow for program diversity and parent and student choice in a cost effective manner while not diminishing the attractiveness of high performing neighborhood schools for many families. I also question the use of the term “value” instead of “priority”. I “value” everything on the list and thus gave them equal weight. However, my “priorities” are to put as many dollars as possible into recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers and staff and into adequately equipping and supplying classrooms to meet 21st century educational needs.