Candidates for superintendent address issues at forum before June 7 primary
On Tuesday evening, the long awaited candidates forum for Santa Barbara County superintendent of schools finally took place.
The Zoom event was sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association and the Resource Santa Barbara.
Jerry Roberts and Lanny Ebenstein co-moderated. A set of six questions was asked to each candidate followed by audience questions allowed by remaining time. Each candidate was given two minutes to respond. It was left to moderator discretion to determine when 30 seconds would be allowed to respond to allegations or comments raised by a candidate in the previous answer.
Below are the questions and excerpts from the candidates’ answers.
Why should the voters re-elect/elect you?
Dr. Susan Salcido, the incumbent: “I recognize this role as both an honor and a responsibility, that this work is about me as a leader and us as a society and because I am a true educator at heart and believe so strongly in public education and have fully embraced and learned from each role in my educational career, each role informing the next.”
Christy Lozano: “I am the right leader for the job. I’m a local teacher with school experience K-12. I have the experience, energy and leadership skills that are tailor-made for the job at hand … Half our students cannot read at grade level and two-thirds of our students cannot do math at grade level. We have an education system that fails to educate … I believe our school’s curricula, and budget should be transparent …”
In light of the recent school shooting in Texas, the candidates addressed the issue of school safety, and the role and responsibilities of the superintendent concerning this issue.
Ms. Lozano: “I have already stood up publicly to support SROs (safety resource officers) and improve discipline in our schools and have paid the administrative price for such statements … Beyond gun violence, it is important to remember that safety and discipline is critical for learning … Our schools must be a place where students from all faiths, beliefs and backgrounds feel welcome and included. In my 18 years of teaching I have seen a steady decline in discipline …We need to address discipline problems head on and have honest conversations to create healthy environments necessary to educate children.
Dr. Salcido: “I want to recognize that our community members, friends and family, ourselves are feeling emotions from agony to outrage … I really think we need to find common ground and common sense. I think the common sense is to ensure that the people who should not have assault weapons, should not have assault weapons … On Friday of last week after the shooting, I assembled a group together of law enforcement, educators, public school and private school ensuring that we had aligned plans.”
In relation to the budget, what currently is being well spent, and what expenditures could be improved?
Dr. Salcido: A budget should really reflect an organization’s priorities, and I am really proud of the priorities that are reflected in our budget … Seventy-four percent of that budget will be spent on student services: special education, early childhood education, juvenile court in district schools. Twelve percent will be spent on school and district support: professional learning, the local control accountability plan reviews, the budget reviews; 7% is our internal support: fiscal and human resources, and 7% goes back to the state. Also what’s working well is the advocacy that we do in Sacramento for the funds that go into school districts …W hat can be improved is to move from a paper-oriented organization to more online.”
Ms. Lozano: “What can be improved is we can begin with transparency … The budget is long and obtuse … It would be helpful if the public knew where the money is going. If we are to turn our county around, money spent must be transparent and related to actual outcomes…”
These are just a few of the issues that were addressed by the candidates. Other issues addressed include literacy, increasing educational opportunities and the school board recording and retaining meetings.
To watch the full forum, go to youtube.com/watch?v=CH6K5VEFkGU&t=1s.