Glendora Patch asked the candidates for Glendora Unified School Board to answer questions before the Nov. 5 election. All the candidates answered the same questions via email.
Their answers will be posted in the next few days.
The first Q&A is from candidate and incumbent Chuck Gomer.
Name: Chuck Gomer
Occupation: Professor and Cancer Research Scientist
1. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and why you should be elected or reelected to the GUSD School Board.
My wife, Tricia, and I moved to Glendora in 1987 because of the schools and small town atmosphere. Our daughters, Alison and Sarah, are graduates of Glendora schools.
I believe my experience and expertise are major assets in allowing me to continue being an effective member of the Board of Education. I am a Professor and Vice-Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medical, a member of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Director of the Radiation Biology Cancer Research Laboratory at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. I am the 2013-2014 elected President of the USC faculty. I previously served as the Founding Director of the Research Institute at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and on scientific advisory committees for the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Defense. In these various roles, I am active in teaching, research, governance, and budgetary management.
My ongoing involvement with our community and schools allows me to effectively communicate with all school stakeholders. In addition to serving 4 terms as President of the Board of Education, I have served as President of the Glendora Kiwanis Club, President of the EYE-DAS Foundation and as a member of the City of Glendora Police Chief Selection Panel. I am an active member of the District College & Career Readiness Committee. I started a Partnership in Reading Program between the Kiwanis Club and the Glendora School District, and I serve as the Science Master for the annual elementary schools’ Science Bowl. I have received a number of awards for my service to PTA and Glendora’s youth including the Golden Oak Award from the California State PTA (2012), Child Advocate Awards from the Glendora Council PTA (2001, 2003 and 2010) and the Continuing Service Award from the California State PTA (2006). Tricia and I were recently honored as the 2013 Glendora Community Heroes for the LA County Fair.
2. What do you think distinguishes you from other candidates? What do you bring to the table?
All candidates have unique attributes. The community will have the opportunity to elect three Board members, and I am supporting Mike Gautreau and Cory Ellenson in this election.
I strongly believe all School Board members must staunchly advocate for academic excellence so all students can reach their full potential. A Board member has several primary responsibilities; hiring and evaluating the superintendent, reviewing and approving the district annual budget, developing and approving district policies, reviewing the academic progress and goals of the district, and listening and communicating with all stakeholders. These are responsibilities that I take very seriously. I bring to the table a commitment to, and record of, making the educational well being of all students my top priority.
I possess the experience, leadership skills and commitment to ensure our District remains focused on effectively educating our students, supporting our staff, engaging our parents and community, and maintaining fiscal soundness. My experience in the hiring process of senior administrators, my data analysis skills and policy review expertise as well as my record of community involvement distinguishes me as a Board member.
3. What kind of experience do you have working with budgets?
I have been directly involved in the development, prioritization, approval, and the review of 16 consecutive District budgets that have strategically allocated limited education dollars. These budgets have allowed our students and schools to continue to advance academically, to maintain the fiscal soundness of the District, and to effectively represent the educational expectations of our community. The past 5 years have been extremely challenging because of severe cuts in State funding for education. During this time the Glendora Board of Education, working collaboratively with all stakeholders, has been able to approve budgets that allowed our teachers and schools to continue providing an outstanding educational experience for our students. My expectation is that a Board member must be accountable for the budget, must be able to fully understand and defend the budget, must make the budget transparent to all stakeholders, and must assure that the budget reflects the educational goals of the District and community.
4. What are your thoughts on Local Control Funding Formula? How do you think this will impact Glendora Unified?
Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) will offer both opportunities and challenges to the Glendora School District. LCFF is a new initiative developed at the State level and passed down to local districts. I have been actively studying and learning about LCFF by participating in California School Boards Association workshops. In the past, the State allocated a significant percentage of education funds for specific programs and all districts had to use these funds only for those programs regardless of whether the district thought this was the best use of those funds. LCFF, which just went into effect this year, gives local Boards much more control over how funds can be used. Therefore, we will be able to directly address the needs of our students by budgeting funds where we believe they will be most beneficial without the State dictating where we must spend our funds. This is a positive opportunity for the District. LLCF also provides additional funding for districts with students identified as English Language Learners, foster children, and low-income students. Glendora will have a much smaller percentage of these students than some surrounding districts, and therefore, we will receive considerably less funding per student than some districts. We will not receive additional funds for our special education students or students identified as needing intervention programs for reading and/or math and this will be a challenge for us. A second component assocated with LCFF is the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), and this requires districts to increase stakeholder involvement in budget and academic goal setting by having an active parent advisory committee. This is an opportunity for all districts to increase transparency. Interested readers can obtain additional information on these programs at www.csba.org/LCFF or www.cde.ca.gov/fg/aa/lc/
5. What are the most pressing issues facing Glendora Unified? How do you think the district should approach or resolve these issues?
Two of the most pressing issues facing GUSD are: 1) the implementation of LCFF, and 2) the implementation of Common Core Standards. Both of these issues are new and extremely important to our District. I provided a basic introduction to LCFF in my previous answer. There is increased local control with LCFF, and this will require increased measures of accountability, strategic prioritization, and enhanced transparency for budget generation and academic goal setting. I know GUSD is up to the task of successfully implementing LCFF, but I also know there will be a learning curve for both the District and the community. It will be essential for Board members to become familiar with LCFF and to hold public study sessions, to establish a parent advisory committee, and to continue matching educational goals with budgets.
The second pressing issue is the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) through out the District. California is one of 45 states that have adopted CCSS with the overall goal that all students must be equally prepared to compete with their American peers and more often with others from around the world. The CCSS standards are designed to be clearer, more relevant, more focused, and more coherent. In order to successfully implement these standards it will be vitally important that the District allocates appropriate funds and time for staff development so our teachers are knowledgeable and comfortable in incorporating the new standards in their daily teaching. It will also be necessary for the District to adopt new textbooks with CCSS content, and it will be essential to obtain the necessary technology required to accurately assess how our students are performing. Staff development, book adoptions, and technology acquisition are all required, and the District will need to accurately allocate dollars to each need. Another issue related to CCSS is accurately and effectively communicating CCSS information to our parents and community. Again, Board members will need to become familiar with both the benefits and concerns associated with CCSS and be able to effectively discuss these issues with parents while at the same time supporting the needs of our teachers as they learn and implement CCSS.