- Father of two BUSD graduates
- 17-year BUSD School Board Member and retired Los Angeles Fire Department Captain
What inspired you to run for School Board?
I come from a family that values service and volunteerism, and I first ran for the school board because I saw an opportunity to make a difference, to amplify the voices in our community, improve educational opportunities for all our students, and bring transparency back to the district. Those reasons still ring true today. But I also believe that my proven leadership and experience will be valuable with the board over the next four years as Bonita Unified is presented with challenges that nearly all of the school districts in California are going to be faced with.
What experience do you have that would make you a good board member?
I’ve served on the board for 17 years, helping guide the district into the strong position that it is in today. Before that I was a classroom and school volunteer for eight years, serving on the [Site Council as Site Counsel Chairperson], and as the first male PTA President in Bonita Unified for three terms and was awarded the PTA Scroll Oak Award for service to children, which the highest award the PTA can bestow. My 35 years with the LAFD (Los Angeles Fire Department) also helped me develop leadership and decision-making skills that apply well to this role. Basically every decision I have made and will make as a board member is guided by one principle: to make the best possible choice for our children.
What do you think we can do to keep our students safe and savvy in a more digital and technological environment?
First for our part, we can ensure the district has strong internet and security measures in place for all devices and servers. It’s equally important that we teach our students digital citizenship ensuring they keep themselves safe, conduct themselves professionally, and ensure they treat others with respect. I know this is occurring at a school and classroom level, and it’s something we need to explore further as our education and social environment shift to online in the future.
What milestones would need to be reached in order for you to be comfortable with schools reopening and staying open?
I don’t think it’s quite as simple as meeting set milestones. As we know, the situation is constantly evolving as are the criteria the state and county sets before we can reopen. However, I don’t think just saying when it’s safe is sufficient enough guidance. Aside from meeting our state requirements, city and county approval, we need to have buy-in from everyone in the district: our parents, employees, everyone in the community. The district has prepared plans for all the various phases of reopening, from partial reopening to full, and those plans are adjusted as necessary due to the ever-changing circumstances and requirements. And we’re sure once we get to that point, they will guide us through a successful reopening, whatever that may look like. We know how to reopen schools. We do that every year. It’s just a matter of what it’s going to look like this year.
What other top issues do you care about?
I think one of my greatest concerns is after a full reopening, the potential for budget cuts that are going to come in the next two or three years. Until our economy recovers from the pandemic and these shut downs and closures, tax income will be down, and the district has been told to expect budget cuts as a result of that. Getting our district through these tough economic times, maintaining all the programs and not letting off staff is going to be our top priority. We went through a similar issue in 2007-2008 with the recession., and I think having someone who’s been through that and saw what was necessary to maintain…w While a lot of districts were cutting art programs and music programs, Bonita maintained everything we had.
We probably won’t be able to expand much, because if you have a new program, it takes more money. But if we can, [we should] maintain what we have and continue our upward rise with our test scores and our standing in the state. We’re in the top 10% of all our unified school districts right now, and we’re shooting to be in the top 5%. Our last five years we’ve had an upward gain of over 15 points on our scores. I think that’s our biggest thing: maintaining what we have and keeping the education at the high level it’s been for the last few years.
What is an interesting fact about yourself that your supporters may not already know?
Before I became a firefighter I was studying to be a marine biologist. However, I was entering the field at a rather inopportune time, as they were taking all the money from ocean exploration and putting it in the space race. Pretty much all the professional opportunities went away.
Also when I was growing up, I got to see many of the iconic bands when they were just starting out: the Beach Boys, the Doors, Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendrix, Led Zeppelin–the ones everybody looks back at now with nostalgia. I got to see them when they were brand new and starting!
Interviews were edited for clarity.