Sandee Everett running for Area 5 School Board

Interviewer: What is your current occupation?

Sandee: “…I am a trustee on the Conejo Valley Unified School District School Board. I’m also a full-time mom. My occupation is that I am…a licensed school counselor. So, I hold an active school counseling license.”

Interviewer: Why are you running for school board? And how do you hope to represent your area’s concerns?

Sandee: “I’m running for school board because I would be the most senior member of the board… because I would only have been on the board for four years, [while] the other three board members that were only elected two years ago… The other three only have two years of experience and anyone new would not have any experience and I believe that we need my experience on the board. I’m a budget watchdog. I watched the budget very carefully. And I also have kids in the schools, which gives me a vested interest in their success. And so for my area over here in Newbury Park. I love all of our schools. My kids went to Sycamore and Newbury Park High School. I have two students currently at Newbury Park High School, a sophomore and a senior and then I have three kids that graduated from Newbury Park High School.

Interviewer: Something that has come up as a campaign priority for multiple candidates is having respectful school board discussions. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Sandee: “Yes, I do. This is a very important thing, because currently there is a lack of decorum on the board. When I was in the majority on the board, there were two board members in the minority. That was Dr. Connelly and Mrs. Phelps. And sometimes they would get very upset when the board didn’t vote the way that they wanted us to vote. But one meeting in particular, it was on November 14, 2017. Dr. Connolly asked me questions about the book policy for one hour and 15 minutes. And most of our questions were stated in a derogatory way meant to disparage me. And I listened patiently and carefully to each of our questions, and I responded to those… And so calling for the question is not allowed in our school board meetings. But the current board members because they haven’t been on the board very long, They don’t understand the decorum of the board. And also, at this last school board meeting, I think it’s really important to note that the First Amendment was trampled upon by certain board members, and I was not permitted to fully participate in deliberations, comments and questions. And this is because my microphone was muted by the board president, which I hope to never have again to any board member… The public has a right to hear my vote. It is their rights that were taken away and trampled upon even more than my own when my microphone was shut off… I am the only minority member of the board. [They] represent the majority of the community, [I] represent a minority of the community. And they have four voices on the board. They are all union-backed board members, they vote the way the union prefers. And I am the only independent voice on the board as I’m not acting on behalf of the Union in any way. …Everyone needs to be respectful and I think this is really lacking in our community right now. And I think as a board, we could be a great example of how to listen respectfully, even if we totally disagree… But, I was very disappointed at the way the board meeting was conducted…”

Interviewer: Would you mind just clarifying what it means to be a minority member of the board?

Sandee: “Yes. So the four board members, they’re all Democrats. They are all endorsed or supported by the teachers union. I am the only minority voice on the board because I am not a democrat and I’m not endorsed by the union. I would be the independent voice on the board. Three of the board members ran together as a block in 2018. Jenny, Bill and Cindy ran together and those three were elected as a slate and since they’ve been elected, they have been in lockstep and their vote counts almost as the three of them speak for the same people, because they were all elected together. And so I’m the only person that was elected from a different part of the community that doesn’t support what their perspectives are on many of the issues… There’s so many families that count on me to represent their thoughts and their values and their viewpoints on the board. And the other four board members can represent the others. I’m always happy to read any board comments that come into the board, whether they’re my own perspective or not. But I weigh carefully what I believe the majority of the community wants. And that is where my vote usually lies with the majority of the community like to get the kids back in school. 78% of the parents say they want the kids back in school. So that’s where my vote is.

Interviewer: When you bring up the statistic of the 78%, do you know when that was when that survey was conducted?

Sandee: “Yeah, it was mid-May… and the parents were asked if they would like to send their kids for a traditional model all day. And 78% of the parents said they would like their children to return to campus for all-day instruction in a traditional model, which isn’t the two and a half hours that we’re currently doing. We haven’t really done what 78% of the parents wanted even if we go back and we only provide two and a half hours…”

Interviewer: What are your thoughts about distance learning itself? Do you think there are areas of improvement for the district?

Sandee: “Yeah, I do. We’ve spent a lot of money, millions of dollars on programs to do distance learning, and it’s been a big learning curve for not only the teachers but students and parents. A lot of parents are concerned because they’re trying to learn Canvas as well. It’s challenging. We spent millions of dollars really because it was on the last agenda. Quite frankly, nothing can replace in-person instruction, especially for kids with disabilities and for their services. It’s just really difficult for some students to actually learn and have it be effective online. It’s not so much that there’s necessarily a certain improvement that can be made. Online instruction itself can’t replace in-person instruction. We need to continue to survey parents [and kids] and ask them… I’ve heard so many students say that they wish that we would record the teacher’s lessons so that they could go back and review them… It can even be a benefit, but we’re not doing that in our district right now, which is unfortunate, because I think that would benefit some of the kids. It’s hard to pay attention for two and a half hours online and you’re seeing all of your friends in the other boxes… I’ve also heard that for freshmen, it’s difficult because they don’t know a lot of the kids that are in their classes. So out here in Newbury Park, Sycamore has a lot fewer middle school students than Sequoia. I heard from a parent that her student is having a hard time because she went to Sycamore, and she doesn’t know anyone in a couple of her classes. She can’t ask the other people in the class [for help.] Her daughter’s really struggling because she was really looking forward to meeting new people and having that fun time your freshman year, [but] instead she’s feeling isolated… when you don’t know them, it feels uncomfortable… Working in groups and making sure that she understands the material that’s being taught. I think a good thing would be if the teachers could record their classes, and the kids could review it. But there’s so many things to improve. But there’s also, how much time should we spend improving, if we’re going to put the kids back into in-person instruction? How many kids are going to need to stay online? How many teachers are going to continue teaching online? And with those teachers that continue on. Yes, I would say it’s money well spent, and I want them to keenly improve their skills.”

Interviewer: How would you address the issue of some students not having access to necessary technology outside of school? Also, what are some things that you believe the district should be doing to support students and teachers?

Sandee: “… I honestly believe that the Chromebooks aren’t good enough, especially for our high school students… I would like to see us trying to partner with some of our community businesses to get real computers for the kids so that they have access to that. I also think that they need high-speed internet, not just hotspots because I’m hearing that so many kids are getting dropped. When they’re online, my son said that people will just be dropping off and even here, where we live, we don’t always have really good internet connection. Especially now that everybody’s on zoom for work and for school, the internet slows down even if you do have a high-speed internet. I just feel like we can’t let kids fall behind and those who have enough money to be able to access all of those things to be doing better… So I would like to see us partnering with some community members. I know there are people who would just love to help our students in any way they can. We want them to succeed. So as far as online, I think the same thing, the teachers need the best computers, the fast, the high-speed internet, they need access to technical help when they need it… All of those things, I think we need to provide access to help as quickly and as easily as possible for the teacher so that they can use the technology that they’re given to the fullest ability. Then I think for students, it’s just the same thing. I really want them to be able to access all the learning that’s going on at the same rate that those kids who have the high-speed internet and the nice computers have, and also that two and a half hours is a long time to stay online. But there are private schools that actually have the kids online for six hours. I’m really concerned for the students, especially seniors, and even juniors and actually all high school students, that you’re going to need to compete with students who are in school all day to get into college…. In-person instruction is much better. It’s studied that it’s a much better way to learn. And so for the students I say let’s get you back to in-person instruction as fast as we can safely, and let the parents and the students choose whether they feel it’s safe for them. Then those students [and teachers] who prefer online can remain online.”

Interviewer: How do you plan on promoting equity and inclusion on our school sites?

Sandee: “There’s a lot of equity and inclusion. First of all, everybody needs access to all of the technology, all of the ability to learn at the same level as everyone else, regardless of your socio-economic level. Regardless of your language, barriers, all of that needs to be addressed. I think that it’s very important when we’re talking about equity and inclusion, and that we remember right now, the board is allowed to let students with disabilities, from kindergarten through 12th grade, to allow them to come back onto campus for their in-person instruction and services. We have not done that yet [even though] we received notice in mid-September. Any student that has a disability… There’s studies done about kids with autism and screen time, that is there’s a negative impact of screentime. There’s just the services are not the same unless they’re in person. I say we need to address those immediately and do it in a way that’s very productive and effective. LA Unified did a study during the spring. We didn’t take attendance during the spring here in CVUSD, but LA Unified did and they found that the Latino families and the black families were disproportionately harmed by [online] instruction because many of them did not log in at all. A lot of these students, their parents are both essential workers. The kids were left at home to get their younger siblings onto the computer by themselves. There’s greater harm and impact to students in certain areas…”

Interviewer: How would you specifically combat a culture of or how would you promote a culture of inclusivity that would make students who are discriminated, feel welcome in their school sites?

Sandee: “ I support all programs that teaches students to respect each other’s differences, especially with race, gender, religion, the way you dress, your opinions, all of those things need to be respected at school, and I think families in our district do a very good job of teaching their children to be respectful of all students. There’s actually a lot of differences of opinion that come to the board on how to address how we ensure that the kids are respectful of differences. Some of these are controversial, for example, some board members and some members of our community, when it comes to transgender students, they believe that in order for students not to discriminate against them… that they need to teach all kindergarten through sixth-grade students that gender is a social construct… and that the students can choose their own gender. There’s also a new law in the transportation bill that changed the definition of gender. That is some feel that’s a way to address that. Other parents feel like that’s too young and that it’s not developmentally appropriate [for] kindergarten through sixth grade. Teaching children to invite other kids to come into their friend group, and there’s groups at Thousand Oaks High School… that if there was a student sitting by themselves, they would go over and invite that student to come have lunch with them… We have people come in, speakers come in and talk to the student body about being respectful of each other’s differences… But there’s always room for improvement. So I am open to having different programs implemented that teach anti-bullying and teach us to respect each other.

Interviewer: How do you think the best way to support transgender students in the CVUSD is at like the elementary level?

Sandee: “At the elementary level, I believe that every student deserves to be loved and respected and that is the same with transgender students. When there’s a transgender student in an elementary class, I believe that the class should have interventions that would be helpful and that the parents should be included and informed that the interventions will take place that help the kids understand that student, if the student would like that if the transgender student would like that… Or that they want the parents of the transgender student to work with the parents of the other class to make sure that the student is loved and respected and that no one left out, teased, or bullied in any way. So I would do it, I would address it on a case by case basis.”

Interviewer: What kind of intervention would that be?

Sandee: “…There’s many different ways of doing it. I’m not sure what teachers in our district have been doing… They probably talk to each other and figure out what the best ways to address that is in a developmentally appropriate way for the other children in the class. I know for my daughter she, had a transgender friend…  When she was in middle school, her transgender friend transitioned, and I don’t think there were any interventions in the high school, but all the students knew to use the proper name that the student asked for, and all the students were respectful. They would remind each other because they’ve known this student with a different name. It was just a matter of letting the student know, hey, we want to respect you and support you, however, we can please, you know, correct me if I’m doing anything that you… because I think that the kids, in general, are very loving and respectful of the transgender students. We don’t want any transgender students to ever feel bullied or that kids are teasing them or anything like that.

Interviewer: CVUSD is currently not compliant with the California healthy youth act. In your upcoming if you were to win the school board election, how would you want to implement the healthy youth act so that we’re compliant?

Sandee: “I’ve been saying this for over two years [that] we are not compliant. The superintendent has said repeatedly that we haven’t gotten any letters and no one is concerned about that. So I was surprised, because in Orange County, if you’re not compliant, then you get a letter from the ACLU. But apparently, we hadn’t gotten one. I support a curriculum called HEART. It’s fully compliant with the law. It’s very respectful of all worldviews. In fact, what it does is it has the students go home, after each lesson -it covers all of the areas, the required areas- and interviews their parents on what their family values are on those issues. So it doesn’t need to, the classroom does not need to prevent present values to the children. The parents would do that. Then the kids come back with their homework completed, and they’ve discussed it with their parents. That’s the one that I endorse.”

Interviewer: What are your thoughts on the English language learner program in our district? And do you have any ideas to improve these programs?

Sandee: “First of all, they did a summer program for the English language learners that was supposed to help them recover some of their learning loss. And once again, it was online. I don’t think that it’s effective to have a learning loss be an online program… That’s why I’m such a huge proponent of allowing students with disabilities, students with English language, learning English language learners, to get back to campus for in-person instruction. I think that a lot of these students have high ability and that they’re learning their language skills but is preventing them from understanding material that they need to know in order to do well in some of the subjects because if you don’t have the language skills, and someone’s explaining a math problem to you, you might be missing a lot of that… I would prefer that the students have more one on one time, whether it be with volunteers, not just paid professionals… I just want these kids to thrive. Our current test scores for English language learners is not high enough. I know many of them are super bright, and learning a new language is really hard, especially if you come in when you’re already in high school. But I think that we just need to make sure that their lack of language ability is not inhibiting them from learning in all of their [other] classes… I think that immersion is good… My son’s volleyball team, his mom told me, she works with those students and they have a large population of English language learners, and she says they do immersion, and that she thinks it’s very effective. I would look into all of those because we want these students excelling…”

 Interviewer: What was your thought process when evaluating books to be implemented on the list?

Sandee: “First of all, I want it to be rigorous. I want it to have a high reading Lexile, have a lot of vocabulary building, and have excellent writing, I want the kids to get more than just entertainment from the book, when it’s for an English class I want them to learn English skills from the book. That’s my top priority. And I think that many parents would agree with me… I vote for all the books that are brought forward, and the reason is because I believe that the teachers, if they give us a good reason to bring forward a book, …should be able to use those books. But I also believe that some of our books, there’s just a handful that contain graphic descriptions of child rape, like one of our books, describes a father raping his nine-year-old daughter and the detail is so graphic that it’s very troubling. Even for someone who’s not an abuse victim, but one in 10 of our students under the age of 18 are the victims of sexual abuse. We need to be mindful of that when we’re handling books. I am a proponent, I don’t mind voting for books, but I want the books to be voted properly. I will always bring up if I have a concern with how rigorous it is, or if the vocabulary is low… I just think that when there’s something graphic in there that could be disturbing…we should give them an awareness about the material in there and let them [choose not to read]… I think that, you know, if the student chooses to not be in there, when the when the graphic rape is being discussed, that’s one thing, but to have the student leave for the whole unit can embarrass students, and I’m against that. But as a rule of thumb, I vote for all of the books, but I prefer for us to be very transparent about the content…”

Interviewer: So specifically, the book you talked about referencing child rape? Which book is it that you’re talking about?

Sandee: “That particular one is “the Bluest Die”.”

Interviewer: Do you believe that the current core literature for CVUSD represents a nice, diverse set of perspectives, or if not, how do you plan on, as a board member, to continue to ensure that everyone’s voice and perspective is represented in the curriculum that we have?

Sandee: “…So we have a book…it’s about the Japanese internment camps. That book is not written by a Japanese author, It’s written by a white author. But it’s supposed to give us perspective about Japanese internment camps. And I’ve had Japanese friends and Chinese friends read it, and they’re not happy with the book because they said ‘we have so many better books to represent [our] culture.’…No, I don’t think it necessarily reflects all the diversity in our community. I think if it were up to me, and it has to be the majority of the board members, I would have groups from the different cultural groups that we want to have represented; I would have them read books and discuss among themselves… and discuss what they think would best represent their culture and how they would want the kids to see their culture, and how this comes from within that cultural group… So I think that we could probably get better books for some of the groups that we feel we are representing in our curriculum.”

Interviewer: What are your thoughts on social-emotional learning in the classroom, such as teaching self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making?

Sandee: “I was trained in my school counseling that it is the counselor’s job to do these kinds of social-emotional lessons. When I was doing my training, I would work with kids, for example, in elementary school, there were fifth graders, and there would be a group that the teachers had selected that maybe needed some work with social skills. We would work on social skills during their lunch period… Whole class interventions are actually pretty tough to do, even if you’re a trained professional. When you’re teaching these important skills, there’s so much diversity in a whole class, that it’s hard to address all the needs. You also need to have a safe place to discuss some of these things, and that is established over time when you’re in a group setting. To really have a meaningful group, you need to establish that the group will keep things confidential, that the group trusts each other. So, for the social-emotional lessons, I think that most of that belongs with the school counselors that they should be working on. I don’t think that during the shutdown, we should be spending 10 or 15 minutes of the precious two and a half hours of instruction, doing social-emotional learning. I think that maybe once a week by the counselor would be adequate. I think that professionals… it is not something that you can just learn easily…everything is done through theory and has to be science-based. It’s a very distinct skill set to be able to do social-emotional lessons. I am an advocate for things like… There’s a lot of stuff that can be done with social-emotional learning, I’m just not sure that it needs to be done every day until we get back to the classroom full time. I do think that professional counselors should be the ones doing the social-emotional lessons.”

Interviewer: What is your opinion on how the district on the district’s current programs for students with disabilities?

Sandee: “…As far as there are programs right now, I think they’re lacking because they’re not on campus. We’re trying to do more inclusion, once the kids are on campus, and once the kids return to campus, I think that’s a very good thing to be doing. I think the kids learn a lot from each other, both the student who has the disability, and the students who do not have a disability. It’s the same kind of thing, they can learn empathy, they can learn to be caring to be helpful. The same thing [occurs] with the student with disabilities, they are making friends, and they get to know other people on campus. I think that we should be inviting each other to sit with each other at lunch… Our budget is always stretched for these things. We just need to move mountains for the kids with the budget that we have, to get them ready to do great things when they graduate from high school. Every student deserves to get an excellent education and achieve the highest level of ability that they possibly can. This includes all students with disabilities. I also think it’s important to teach coping skills. Some of the disabilities come with having attention deficit disorder, or having anxiety. I think that coping skills can be learned [by teaching] students breathing exercises. I’ve worked with a lot of kids doing these different things [such as] earplugs. If they get easily distracted during tests, we should be using every method possible so that we can help the students. One thing that I always was trained to do when I was in my counseling is students that have high risk for not graduating, we always tried to remove any barrier… If they weren’t really learning a lot from a particular teacher, whether it was just their personalities, we allowed them to change classes very easily. We wanted to give that student everything to set them up for success. I totally believe that we are only as good as our school district [as our] students [abilities]. I want everybody to be high achievers to be fulfilling their abilities…”

Interviewer: A lot of students expressed anxieties around grades, and I was just wondering what your thoughts are on how CVUSD is helping to combat helping students who have those anxieties?

Sandee: “Grades are an interesting thing. Sometimes grades are a matter of getting a good grade as a matter of maturity. You have to turn in your assignments on time, you need to be responsible, not forget things. But it’s not always necessarily reflective of someone’s abilities. A lot of times standardized testing can make that up. It can really show because a student who’s actually a B average can then have a really high test score, which then shows that their ability, their intelligence, is much higher than their grades are reflecting. What I would tell students is to…go ahead and take that AP, or honors or even IB class and those topics, because you’re going to be more driven, because that’s something you really love to learn. But if it’s a class that maybe isn’t your favorite subject, and maybe you need to take a CP class, sometimes I think kids put themselves in all the highest level classes, even when they’re not really necessary even to get into college. It depends on your college, because I know the GPA changes if you’re taking those higher-level classes. I think that high school is a time that you’re learning what you’re interested in. You don’t need to take the highest level class for every single subject if something really isn’t interesting to you. I would say that grades are important, especially if you want to go to college. They are important and it is stressful. But I’m a big proponent of just keep plodding along, and maybe not looking so much at your grade, but in the end you’re going to get the better grade, if you don’t worry so much about the grade… You just need to use all the resources at the school like, to have tutoring or asking…teachers questions. It is a skill, to learn to get good grades. So don’t give up on yourself… and [don’t] be too hard on yourself. Love yourself, recognize when you’re doing your best and you know, maybe the C is your best… Sometimes you don’t always excel in every class in high school, and you might be disappointed in your grades. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t excel in college, you can do excellent and get excellent scores on your standardized test. There’s so many ways to achieve your dreams.”

Interviewer: From my understanding, the qualification for a 504 plan is that your disabilities actually cause you to be excluded or unable to complete classroom activities. I personally heard stories about students with diagnosed ADHD actually being denied 504s, do you think that’s a policy that should be changed?

Sandee: “My personal philosophy is if it’s going to help the student achieve and feel self-esteem, and have that self-esteem and that positive reinforcement, I am a proponent of helping them. I’m not one to deny kids, if I was the counselor, but different counselors have different expectations and bars that kids need to pass. This is California. They’ve got to meet all the requirements that California requires. But, I want kids to have all the tools that they can to succeed. That’s the most important thing to me. I would be supportive of anything that came to the board that supported kids, if they’re struggling, I want them to succeed…” 

Interviewer: What would be your top priority for district spending? Do you think that the district could better allocate its funds?

Sandee: “… I do think the district could better allocate its funds. I think that more of our funding needs to go into the classroom and into the school sites. I think we spend more money than we probably should right now on administrative positions and administrative work at the district office. I think that we need to really focus our funds on the student, the individual student achievement and the classroom and helping the teachers with aides and custodians to make sure the classrooms are clean for the students when they come back during COVID. My top priority for funding is always going to be whatever benefits the student. We need to have data that will show me that is successful. So if we’re going to spend money on a program, I want to see the data that shows that that program is going to do what it says it’s going to do whether it’s for the English language learner students, whether it’s for the gifted students, whether it’s for students with disabilities, any students, I want to see that the program is the most successful, that it can be that we get the best resources, as far as curriculum… Then we keep data as far as to see how it’s doing. We reassess it at least once a year, we reassess the program to see how we can improve it. If it’s not doing well, if we’re not improving…then we figure out how we can improve it, or we scrap that one and do a different one that’s more effective. I want to see test scores, student achievement, grades, all of that improve whenever we spend money in the classroom. I want to see even our students who are traditionally low achieving students, to see their scores going up all of that. [Depending on] the effectiveness of the program, I would put the money in the classroom.”

Interviewer: How would you address low funds given true custodial service and cleaning supplies that will now be more necessary because of COVID and everything?

Sandee: “The district received $10 million from the federal government to ensure that all of our schools are safe because of COVID. To help with learning loss, a lot of that money has been spent on computer programs and online things. I think that we need to spend much more money on starting to look forward to keeping our classrooms clean, and custodians are one position at our school that we can hire those people on a short term basis. Right now we are asking the custodians to clean far too many classrooms. It’s way too many classrooms for how clean the classrooms need to be. I think we need more custodians, I think we need the same custodians that are supposed to be cleaning the classrooms, they do setups and teardowns for different activities that are going on… They need to just be focused on getting those classrooms clean from top to bottom for both our students and our teachers, because we don’t want people getting COVID because the classrooms weren’t clean enough. I would just say that…we need to start focusing on the schools and getting the schools ready for the kids to come back.”

Interviewer: So at the last board meeting, you voted no on the LCAP. And we just want to ask, what was your reasoning behind this?

Sandee: “There were several reasons. First, they wouldn’t let me participate in the deliberations. None of them heard what I wanted to have changed. Therefore, I didn’t feel like I should vote yes, when they didn’t take any of my deliberations into consideration. There was nothing in the LCAP, talking about having more custodians and how we’re going to keep our classrooms really clean for the kids. The second one is they want to only allow K through second grade to return to campus at first once we get the waiver. I completely disagree with this approach. I believe that the law requires us to provide in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible. That’s a quote from…Government Code 53504. That Government Code indicates that in the 2020-2021 school year, we need to provide in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible. If we have a waiver, we’re allowed to let all kindergarten through sixth-graders back and we say ‘Oh, but we’re only going to allow the K through second at first.’ We’re not doing what the law requires… We are allowed to let those students back on campus so we should be able to. We should be bringing them back onto campus right now, and giving them their services and in-person instruction in person… I believe it’s an emergency, and that there are many kids who are struggling. There’s depression, there’s suicidal ideation, there’s kids left home alone, when both of their parents are essential workers, and there’s kids dropping. I just think that we need to allow those students back. It’s up to the students and the parents whether they will come back, we’re not going to force anyone to come back that doesn’t feel that it’s safe, of course, and same with the teachers. But the ones who do want to come back need to be allowed to come back. I voted no, just on those two reasons… I had a list of about 50 reasons that I just agreed with within [a] document. It should be stated that Dr. Connelly and Mrs. Goldberg wrote the document, and so of course, they didn’t have questions or concerns… I’m one of the board members who is out of the loop, because I’m not in the majority. I had a lot of questions, and I was not allowed to ask them…I voted no, because it didn’t address the need for more custodians.”

Interviewer: So why do you think CVUSD has faced declining enrollment? And how do you think we can combat that?

Sandee: “…According to our website, the enrollment that was listed, we’ve lost over 1000 students this year. That’s as many students as we’ve lost three years prior to that, even four. Even if they said that the data on the website isn’t correct, it was more or less a ton of students that did not come back this fall. I believe that many parents leave the district because they have a concern. Their concern is not adequately addressed, that…the parent does not feel either respected or does not feel that the district is going to change what the parent is not happy with. I think we need to be much more concerned about what we would call customer service, and providing a lot of options for parents. I do love the fact that we now have more kids in our homeschool program. I think it’s great that we have a homeschool program. Century Academy is a great thing for kids who need that kind of program that’s more flexible. But inside the classroom, we need more flexibility as well. We just can’t be losing all these students, or we’re going to be closing schools, because we can’t afford every 1000 students representing about $10,000 and $10 million in our funding. We can’t afford as many teachers, as many custodians, as many administrators, [and so on]. That would mean that we would have to perhaps even look at closing schools, which I just do not want to close any schools. I think our schools are the heart of our neighborhoods. We have to increase enrollment, and I think it starts with customer service, figuring out what’s going wrong. Keep working on it until we can wait till we make it right.” 

Interviewer: I was wondering if you had any ideas to boost student influence in the district? And if so, what are those ideas?

Sandee: “… For high school, students want to have more of a say, but I feel like even with the current student groups that not every voice is represented. I try to make it more diverse, but they said that some of the diversity that I was talking about was not necessary. I just think before we form a student group, we need to make sure that the students are very diverse in thinking in perspective, political views, religion, and just all of that. We just want to make sure that no student feels left out and that their voice is heard… So when we speak, we speak for the public. When a student speaks for all students…the board is held accountable to the community because we’re elected. If we don’t represent the community we don’t get re-elected because the community can hold us accountable. I think as far as getting student feedback, I think we should actually do more surveys for every student… We can rely on student groups for some things, but I think for other things like with COVID, we need to interview and survey all the students…”

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