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Hear from School Board Candidates Patrick Nagle and Debbie Ramirez
Student-organized meeting at Analy gave WSCUHSD candidates an opportunity to share who they are and what they will do
The best part of the Town Hall meeting at Analy High School Library on Monday night was the Analy Jazz Band, playing as an opening act, of sorts. The four-member student band was exceptional and these musicians provided an unexpected pleasure. Casey Jones, the music director at the school, introduced the talented student musicians as well as the two leaders of the Speech and Debate Team who moderated the event, Dylan and Allison. He added that they were both very good trumpet players.
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The Town Hall was a fundraiser for the Analy Speech and Debate Team and it was well attended, with an estimated 100 people or so.
There are two candidates for the two-year at-large seat as a trustee on the West County Union High School District. The incumbent is Patrick Nagle, who has served a one-year term by appointment. The challenger is Debbie Ramirez, who has served on the board of Sebastopol Union District. This was an opportunity for both of them and their backers to gather and hear each other on a number of topics.
The pre-determined format for the Town Hall was that candidates got three-minutes each to respond to the questions prepared by the students (and which were given to the candidates ahead of time). By virtue of a coin toss, Patrick Nagle went first in answering questions. Candidates were also given a one-minute for a rebuttal, although this was seldom used by either candidate. No questions were allowed from the audience.
Both candidates are capable, they care about fiscal issues and they are committed to improving student achievement and engagement at Analy. That said, their life experiences are different, giving them each their own perspective. Nagle cited his experiences in military intelligence and in managing a business as preparing him for his work as school board trustee. He called himself a servant leader who listens and communicates directly.
Ramirez talked about her involvement first as a parent of two sons, which led to her serve in the classroom, on school site councils, and then as a school board member for Sebastopol Union. She has experience in school governance. She is particularly concerned with student safety as well as efforts around diversity and inclusion. She talked about expanding community engagement. Both Ramirez and Nagle have had children go through Analy.
The candidates addressed the rather painful events of the last five years with the consolidation of El Molino and Analy and the complications caused by local fires and floods to be followed by Covid. There have been incidents of racism and sexism on campus that raise questions about the school’s culture as well as student well being.
The following is a lightly edited transcript with the questions highlighted followed by each candidate’s response.
1. Why are you running for the board of education and if elected, what will be your priorities?
Patrick Nagle: First before I get started — thank you very much, Allison and Dylan, the whole debate club. Just a great event, great turnout. So thank everyone for coming. I'm excited to be here.
I'm running to return to the school board because I feel like there, I have work that's undone. I chose to apply for appointment because I was tired of a lot of divisiveness in our community.
And I thought that we needed to have someone step in that could be a leader, that could lead us forward, that could provide a level headed, a business approach to financial things. And so I was excited to do that. I won appointment and in the last year, I feel like I really got a lot of things done, but I feel like there's a lot of things left to do.
So I would like to return for the two years of this election. This position is a two year position this time. And then we will convert to by district voting. So in the future, just so happens Debbie and I both happen to live in the district but it will be by district. And so that would only be voted on by the people that live in our community.
So that's why I wanted to return and I'm running to do it. We've come a long way in a year. We've really done a good job of, we've gotten the budget under control. We're really close to being completely out of deficit spending. I'd like to have see it two years in a row before I can stand up and make a proclamation that we are a hundred percent out of deficit spending.
But we really had a solid year last year and we're really doing a lot of good things. And I really had a good time sitting down with the CBO and with the new superintendent and setting an example, looking at our budget, looking at our spend. We also resolved ... we signed a contract for our teachers and our classified staff, which really put us in a good position.
We got that done very quickly. I was able to help with the negotiation of that, which kind of helps us move forward, right? We want to keep moving the district forward. So I was excited to do all that. My priorities just continue with clear and concise communication-- to listen, to be a part of the community.
And by that I mean the school community. Continue to focus on the budget, continue to make sure that our budget spend is appropriate to what we need and to have the money we need to do the programs that we have and to take care of our teachers. Is that the 30 second thing? . Okay. And and then obviously lastly, I want to continue to improve the staff and student experience here on the campus, right?
I want us to be the best. That's my goal and kind of anything and everything I do is to choose to be great. Because being great is a choice, right? So every day and every way you choose to be great, you strive for that. Doesn't mean you achieve it every time, but you want that. And that's what I want us to do.
Because I want us to be the best high school. I want us to be the best high school in Northern California. And then when we're done with that, I want us to be the best in this state. We have the people, we have the students, we have the staff, and now we just need to do it.
Debbie Ramirez: Thank you Allison and Dylan for having me here and the debate club for setting this up. I'm running for the high school board because education and the public education system in California has been a special interest of mine since 2010. I have a great deal of experience in school district governance, and I want our local schools to thrive.
From what I've seen, the district's most urgent priorities are fiscal responsibility, engagement and school climate. With fiscal responsibility, I think it's important that we get this structural deficit, which has been ongoing for more than a decade under control. We have to allocate resources in alignment with community values and best practices.
It's not just students and families who benefit from well run schools. The whole community and local economy does better when our schools are stronger. Engagement is twofold. There's student engagement and community engagement. I support career connected learning with a future ready focus for students.
The state has recently allocated $1 billion in ongoing funding, which means programming can be set up and staff can be hired for career technical education programming. We have to use these funds responsibly and not to plug the structural deficit. Stakeholder engagement is also important. I want to reestablish mandated programs like the Site Council, which we'll talk about later, the English Learner Advisory Committee.
And I would also like to see a Diversity Equity Inclusion committee set up so that some of the questions that community members have around that can be addressed. School climate. I'll just say one thing about that right now in the Countywide YouthTruth Study survey, 26% of Analy students report that they do not feel safe at school. Countywide, the number is 10%. It's not only a moral imperative to resolve this, it's also a legal one.
I decided to run for this seat because during my nine-year tenure at Sebastopol Union School District, I learned about how to be an effective trustee. I participated in a great deal of professional development around school district governance and administration.
I learned how to be part of a team. I learned about the importance of engaging the community. I learned how to address immediate needs while always keeping an eye on long term implications. I learned the value of creative ideas and that sometimes you start small to ultimately achieve big.
2. What particular experiences or skills prepared you to serve as a board member?
Nagle: Thank you. So have a great vast degree of skills and experiences in my life, but most importantly, starting with, I happen to be on the board now, which has given me great insight onto how to be on this particular board.
We've come a long way in learning. Work together and to maybe do things in a different manner. So that, that is one skill set. But I was a veteran in the military and my specialty was intelligence and it taught me to take information and listen to it without editorializing or opinionating that information.
So you take, you've taken that information, you look at it at its face value, you research it, you then try to understand by taking in other information before you ultimately make a decision. So I spent a lot of years doing that all over the world and lots of crazy experiencing times, and that really helped me to become a very good business leader, which I have become now.
I work for Mission Foods. I am in charge of all the sales and distribution from San Jose all the way to Oregon, all the way to Utah. I also call on Amazon nationally now. It's taught me to be very good at taking in information, which is important here on the school board because you have to listen to everybody's opinion.
You have to listen to the facts, you have to look at how that all plays together, and you have to sit down and make decisions that best interest the whole. Additionally to that, I have a very good ability to really set goals and to really help us move forward. I have, I don't know how, but I have always been able to look at very complex things, break it down to simple steps for us to achieve and then go backwards and make that work.
I spent some time with some of the folks talking about our career technical education. Where do we wanna see the program in five years and what do we need to do to get it there? And I think that's really been a great experience for me to do that.
Also, I'm just a very good listener and I like to hear what people have to say and I like to do that, but it's important to ask yourself a very simple question, which is where we are, where we're going, and what we need to do to get there. That for me is how I run everything.
The last thing is I believe in the inverted pyramid on the board. You're at the top of an org chart under that is the superintendent, administrative staff, all that down. But I believe in flipping that upside down and being a servant leader, meaning that everyone else's needs are what's most important. It trickles down to me and I have to make the ultimate decision.
Ramirez: So I moved to Sebastopol when my sons were one and four years old, and immediately got involved in their school programs to support both them and their schools. The youngest is now a senior here at Analy. My extensive involvement has allowed me to see the education system from many different perspectives.
I've been involved with preschool, Parkside Elementary, Pine Crest Elementary, Brookhaven, and Analy school. I've served on their site councils and volunteered in the classroom. I have fundraised and built community through helping with the foundations in teaching parent education classes. As both an observer and a participant, I have seen how active community members through creative ideas and hard work have an impact on our schools.
I learned about district governance by serving as a trustee on the Sebastopol Union School Board, including many terms as president and clerk for nine years from 2010 to 2019, at which time my children moved on to high school. By working in the classroom, both as a volunteer and as a classified instructional aid, I learned about the challenges and rewards of teaching. Through site councils, I learned about school site, organization, and choices. Through foundation work, I learned about community building and parent engagement. Ultimately, with my nine years as a school board trustee, I learned about district governance and school finance, serving on the Sebastopol Union Budget Committee as recently as last year.
My direct experience with the high school district began in 2016 when my eldest entered Analy. I've been an observant and engaged high school district parent since then. I served on the Analy Site Council in 2017 and 18, and I read all of the posted board meeting agendas and occasionally provide public comment.
3. What elements in the school need improvement and how will you help to make it happen?
Nagle: One of the very biggest things we need to improve is we need to get some work in our facilities, particularly air conditioning in our classroom, in the main building. This is long overdue.
This is something that the board is taking up this week actually. I'm excited. Hopefully we can get a good plan and that plan gets approval from the board, but we need to continue to look at our facilities, continue to look at all of our facilities and make that a priority. Prioritizing the work, of course, by need and by financial impact and out out of our bond.
So that's the first one. We really need to look at our facilities and then continue to upgrade them and make them state-of-the-art and to make them usable for our students. Secondly, we need to work on continuing to improve our culture. We've done a lot of work starting that.
We've had speakers in this week actually to help us get along. We've had Keith Hawkins here for the day of Understanding. Was that good, bad? Love to hear more feedback later because that's something that's a multi-year program. So I'm excited to continue that.
And then some teachers had some professional development today actually. Was that, how was that? Was that good? And that's the thing is we need to collaborate and look for development opportunities for our teachers to get the professional development that they want.
It's one thing to pay them; it's another thing to develop them into the very best teachers that they can become. So that's something I would like to improve as well. We need to continue to grow our offerings to reflect the needs of our students. We have a really robust career technical education. You'll hear it referred to as CTE. We have about a third of our students that take CTE pathway classes. And so we need to continue to look at that and reflect upon what it is that they want to do. Perfect example is we approved the athletic training class this year. It went from a small section of people that right at the beginning of the year to now, it has three sections already and they have plans for the future.
That's obviously something that's very interesting to our students. We need to continue to look to do that. And that starts with the admin staff and the teachers and counselors listening and then putting that into things. But also, when we look to, when you talk about improve, we also have to be real honest about where we are, as I mentioned before, and one of the things that I get frustrated is that we are doing a lot of things here really well. Unfortunately the only thing that makes the paper or the only thing that people get excited about are the things where maybe we stub our toe and we don't do well.
We need to do a better job of shouting out how good we're doing here how good our students are, and how well our teachers are doing and how great our programs are.
Keith Hawkins was a speaker for those who the parents in the crowd who don't know, he came and spoke to our students about a day of understanding. We'll talk about that a little bit more later. He was very impressed with you and the students. He had nothing but great things to say about the students and the staff for as they were sitting together.
So I take a lot of pride in that because that means a lot to me that we're doing something well.
Ramirez: So I outlined the top priorities that I believe the district should address. Now I'm gonna talk a little bit about how, as a trustee, I'll help make that happen.
The board operates as a whole in setting vision and strategy for the district. The board sets policy in alignment with local priorities, best practices and legal mandates. The board hires and in public meeting directs their one employee, the superintendent who is responsible for planning and implementation and oversees through a number of accountability measures.
I see these improvements being achieved through the setting of clear goals for the administration team and utilizing community engagement tools such as site councils, the English Language Learner Advisory Council and other committees that may be formed as well as public board meetings to help determine community priorities.
Similar to how a clear rubric is important to students, a clear vision and goals are critical to school administrators, and that's the role of a school board trustee.
Nagle: I just wanna point out maybe a difference in opinion. Although it is true, the board has one direct report. The board has 1500 people that is responsible for. It is not just the superintendent that we have to pay attention to and or manage. We need to look at everything that's happening in the school to be able to make informed decisions.
So yes, we have one direct report, but 1500 people that we are responsible for.
4. Given all of the issues that arise, how can the board stay focused on student achievement?
Nagle: You just have to do it. No, I'm kidding. At the bottom line, you have to have intense focus. And to focus on what is truly important. And that is at the end of the day, it is our students, right? What you guys can do, what you guys achieve, and what offerings that we're doing to set you up for success.
If we're not doing something right, then we need to address it and look at it. So the first thing is that I have tried to do in my year here is to actively seek out input from those that feel we have areas to improve, such as the students. I see a couple in this room that I meet with every month and the activist club and I, we sit down along with the superintendent and the principal, and we talk about things that they think that we should be improving, things that they think that we needed to be addressing.
The beautiful thing about these meetings is outside of a board meeting, you actually have some real opportunities to have real conversations. In the board meeting there's rules, there's things that have to go but to sit down and have a meeting across from the students and hear from them directly, have them have an opportunity to ask us questions and answer some of their questions is a really good start to stay focused on what's important.
The other thing you have to do is you have to be present. You have to be able to communicate. You have to show up, and you have to listen. Like I said, if you really want to know what's going on here, talk to Mr. David Carey right there. He knows what's happening here. Ask him what he sees.
Go to a volleyball game. Go to a football game. Go to a play. Go to a concert. Those things give you the opportunity to hear and see what's really happening and then focus on things that you can improve. As I mentioned, I do have a simple goal of being the best, and that is something that I strive for every day.
I believe perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence. And Vincent Lombardi said that, and it is something that I try to do in my life, not just here, but in everything. I don't always hit that goal, but it is something that we can do to stay focused because at the end of the day, pay attention to the things that really matter and that is: what are our kids telling us and how are they being successful or not? And then change the plan to accommodate that.
Ramirez: So a school's primary responsibility is student achievement and the mission statement of this district states that student achievement is our top priority. Attendance is important to student achievement.
Students cannot learn if they're not in class. Feeling safe at school increases attendance and engagement. It engagement is also boosted with career connected learning, making connections between what happens in the classroom and what happens out in the real world. I wholeheartedly support the county-wide efforts to bring more career technical education, CTE, and work-based learning to our schools.
These engaging programs help students develop a vision for what they may want to do after graduation and boost classroom engagement. I fully support development of career technical education programs, work based learning and other initiatives currently underway in our district, as well as countywide programs that support our students in staying interested and engaged in school and becoming future ready young adults. Assuring that every student feels safe at school is a way to boost achievement. And to that end, as a board member, I would advocate to prioritize school climate issues such as racism and sexism.
5. Will the board of education work with the student body to resolve school issues? And if so, how?
Nagle: I already answered this but by having meetings with the student activist group, I would of course continue that if I were to have the honor of being elected. That's just one piece. The next piece is again, like I mentioned, is to continue to find ways to be accessible and to listen and to hear. I think out of a lot of the things that we've learned in the last couple years is that everybody has an opinion and we all need to take them on board because they all matter. And we need to really listen to that. We've been through a lot. We've had fires and floods and covid and strikes and consolidation, rebranding, not rebranding. All of that has weighed heavily on our staff, our students and our community. And so for me is to look at the people that it has impacted the most.
And I was actually talking to one of our counselors and he gave me just, it was last year, he gave me this incredible statistic that kind of blew my mind. And that is last year's freshman had last been on campus as sixth graders. So they went from being a sixth grader to them being thrust into the high school format as a freshman.
And that of course led to lots of interesting things. So the question is, how do we work together with the student body and be accessible to them? And the only thing that I can think of is to continue to do what I have been doing, which is actually sitting down, meeting with them, listening to them, having them ask me questions, and if they have questions they don't want to do in that format, those that have my phone number are welcome to call me. And those that want to meet, we can put together a meeting because I do want to honor what they have to say because it's our school, it's our community. And I do agree with what Debbie said earlier, and that is that if we produce great kids, that means we have great community members in the future.
So if we can listen now and make adjustments now, then we can continue to create great community members.
Ramirez: I hear the student voices. In education, we talk a lot about helping our students develop agency. This student body is impressive in your courage to speak up and organize for what you need.
One of the main reasons I am running for this seat is to support the students in being heard in their efforts to not only make their own school experience better, but to improve the experience for the cohorts coming up next, those students that are still in middle school and elementary school.
I mentioned Site Council as one of the community engagement tools that a school board uses to develop district priorities. A high school site council is made up at the minimum with one quarter of the members required to be students. Additionally, I support the development of a district advisory committee, which would include student members to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues. Students cannot learn if they do not feel safe.
This is an issue that is not only urgent to assure student achievement, but it is also a moral and legal imperative to address.
6. What is your opinion about how the bond monies have been used or are planned to be used?
Nagle: I can't really speak too much for the past. I wasn't on the board. It wouldn't be fair to me to weigh in on that.
But as a taxpayer I think we had some missteps there. I think we didn't use the money as as judiciously as we could or should have. A lot has changed since those decisions have been made, and all I can do is commit to how we're gonna do it going forward. And going forward, we're gonna look at and look at with master plan, look at the priorities of that plan and do the things that need to be done in the order in which they need to be done. For instance, air conditioning in the main building needs to be moved to the top of the list. We need to look at our future spaces for our required teaching, such as if we can change and grow our CTE spaces like culinary and ag mechanics, we need the space to actually teach culinary and ag mechanics.
So we need to look at that. We need to reach out to all of our partners, our educational partners, and we need to come up with a solid plan and invest properly and wisely. The word trustee means we are entrusted with the taxpayer's money. So we need to continue to strive to have a good, clear plan, be deliberate with our spend, and be deliberate with how we do what we do.
It's not about this would be nice to do, or this might be neat if we did this. It's about what do we have to do, What must we do. And how do we do that in the most inexpensive way possible? Because we only have so much money and we have to stretch it. And also we have to be a little bit quicker to get things done because every minute we wait, our money is actually worth less because everything is getting more and more expensive.
So I have a lot of experience in this world. In my company I do manage facilities, 11 of them. I'm very aware of the cost. I'm very aware of how to get things done, and I will work very closely with the bond committee, the superintendent, to ensure that our priorities and our spend is done accurately, quickly, and we get things moving and get them done in a timely manner so that we can have students use those facilities. Because at the end of the day, that is what we're supposed to be doing.
Ramirez: So as I've been meeting with community members over the course of this campaign, one question that comes up sometimes is, why should I care about the school board? I don't have kids or grandkids in our schools. If you live in the West Sonoma County Union High School District boundaries, you're either paying the Measure A bond or your landlord is, if you're housed. District facilities are owned by the public. Trustees hold in trust your taxpayer dollars. There's a great deal of deferred maintenance that must be addressed, especially at this campus. Schools fund this sort of maintenance and improvements, not with educational general fund dollars, but through voter endorsed bond funds and developer fees. The school board agenda posted for later this week has a bonds expenditure report with discussion and action around upcoming bond funded projects. I encourage members of the community to attend that meeting in order to learn more and engage with the bond expenditure planning process.
It is tragic that taxpayers will be paying off the construction of a state of the art performing arts building at El Molino that students are rarely able to access. That bond will be paid off for years to come, and hopefully the community will find, the school district will find some use for the community to take advantage of that space because it is owned by all of us, whether you're in school or you're not.
7. The district has seen so much turmoil in the last five years, specifically in the consolidation. How will this history inform your role as a trustee?
Nagle: You're right. We have had a lot of tumult in this district in the last five years and we've seen a lot of tumult in our country in the last five years, but we've doubled down here and added some.
And the heart of your question is how does history inform your role? The big thing for me is to focus on things that we didn't do well and then do them well if we ever have to do them. So we can't duplicate our mistakes. One of the big mistakes was the communication with our community.
I wasn't on the board at the time when the consolidation vote occurred. I was not on the board when the vote was taken to rebrand the school, then to pause rebranding, and then to go to a bridge name. I wasn't here for those discussions. But as a community member, what I saw was a general lack of true transparency and deliberateness in communication.
Meaning that if we had to look at the closure of one of our comprehensive high schools, wouldn't the smart thing to have been to for the district to have worked with, the CBO to create a number where we reached a certain enrollment and have everyone know that number years in advance.
If the enrollment hits 1500, it's gonna trigger conversations about having to look at closing one of our schools. We didn't do that. So if we ever get in a situation like this, you need to clearly communicate. You need to really tell people the truth. You need to sit down and tell them the hard truth that, hey, we're headed down a road. We need to make better decisions. I think I've done that in the year that I've been on the board. I think that has earned me the trust of our staff and our teachers. Our teachers have endorsed me, and I think a lot of it has to do with the way in which I carry myself and my communication style, and that I'm very honest to a fault and I tell people what's happening, where we need to go and what we need to do. It's not always easy, but that is something that we need to learn from our mistake. We need to do better.
The second part of the question, you didn't ask this time, but it was, were there benefits or harm from consolidation?
Okay. There are pluses and minuses with consolidation, but real quick we were able to standardize offerings for all of our students. Obviously some harms is that we have a loss of identity for some of our kids from their school, and we need to strive to close that gap.
Ramirez: A lot has happened in five years. My eldest was a freshman here at Analy in 2016-17, the year the Office of Civil Rights agreement between the district, the US Department of Education, and the OCR went into effect. Five years later, there's still room for improvement, as I've already discussed, this is a top priority for me.
My youngest was a freshman in 2019-20, the year of the teacher strike, the February flooding of the Russian River and evacuations, and of course the start of the pandemic in March with lockdowns, frozen grades, distance learning, learning curves, separation from peers, social distancing, and general anxiety around the unknown.
I do not believe that it was in the best interest of students and student achievement to choose to consolidate at that time. When I was on the Sebastopol Union Board, we consolidated Pinecrest Elementary to Brookhaven creating a K-8 campus. While these schools were only blocks away from each other, the school board recognized the significant impact for the communities involved and took care to incorporate the public in a well designed and carefully implemented merger.
High schools are much more complicated than elementary schools with transcripts, college applications, sports eligibility, club charters, and in this case long-term community rivalries that at times rose to more than friendly. These factors plus the fact that a redistricting study had just been commissioned and the district budget allowed for it, should have delayed the consolidation long enough to plan it out.
As foreseen by the chief business official who presented the budget outlook data, consolidation did not resolve the decades long structural deficit. I've mentioned some harms already. Another harm is a loss of enrollment. District enrollment declined 9% the first year of consolidation, and almost 7% this year for a total decline over two years that equals 15%. This is in contrast to the six prior years from 2014 to 2020 with a total 10% decline in enrollment.
Historically, the district had been able to forecast freshman enrollment based on an expectation that 80% of students from our feeder middle schools will attend this district. This year, that formula proved to overestimate freshman enrollment by 136 students. While other factors could be at play, the chaos, decreased accessibility and school climate issues are certainly important factors to consider.
People who know me well will tell you that I'm an optimist by nature. I always look for the silver lining in any seemingly negative situation.
So in the case of this consolidation, I do see a few benefits. The community has engaged with our schools in a way that hasn't been seen for a long time. More people are paying attention to district governance and are interested in seeking solutions to the current challenges, many of which are faced by school districts throughout the county and state.
Although many of the challenges and changes have been difficult for our students, many of you have channeled these difficulties into positive action and civic engagement. I wish no one had to face these challenges. Yet, if we are looking for benefit, these real life lessons and experiences will serve you well as you go out into the real world.
We've also heard anecdotal reports of students that otherwise may not have met because they would've been at different schools and they've gotten to know each other and forge quality friendships. So that's positive.
8. What steps will you take to ensure a safe school environment for people of all genders and races?
Nagle: This is a big question because there's not a clear and simple answer. So the question as you asked it is, what will you do, and I take that as me? What will you do? I personally have done a lot since I have been a trustee on this board around this topic. First and foremost is we've reviewed our policies and procedures. We've made sure that our policies are right. We've looked at make sure that zero tolerance in fact means zero tolerance.
We've worked with the superintendent and the admin team to ensure that those policies are clear and concise, legal. Those they have worked with the admin staff and teachers, and that work continues because it's not just a one time thing. It's not -- Oh, we've done this thing and we're all better now.
This is a constant pursuit of trying to do better. Another thing that I have been instrumental in communicating with was when we hired our new superintendent back in May, before he even started on the job, we had conversations about what can we do? And he brought us, Keith Hawkins and we made that happen.
He was a great speaker and he had a great opportunity to come and talk to the kids about a day of understanding. And I will sum up his message in one sentence by saying, When you look at someone, you have no idea what they're dealing with. It doesn't mean what color their skin is or what their sexuality is or what their gender is. It just means when you see them, you don't know what's happening on the inside, their own personal struggles, what they're dealing with, and if we're a little more understanding of them and that, then maybe we can just do better. All that this week reminded me of a quote that means a lot to me and it goes as follows, and I'll read it.
If a lot of small people in a lot of small places do a lot of small things, they can change the face of the world. For me, this simply means if we can be a little bit better, and if you can do a little bit better and you being more understanding us as a community, being more understanding, and be a little bit better than we were before, then we'll get further and we'll be better.
We also have quarterly meeting with the NAACP attended by our superintendent and our principal. We check in. This is a proactive meeting so that we know that we're doing things, we're doing them on the right track. We also had an OCR review recently, and the OCR said that we were really doing outstanding work here, and that goes back to something I said earlier tonight, which is simply that there's a lot of great things happening here, but we only focus on the bad.
We only focus on the things that aren't working well as opposed to rewarding those people that are working really hard to do a lot of great work. So I'm really proud of where we started. And where we're headed. It's a long road and a long journey. We're not there yet, but a lot of good work has gone into this and I think everyone has taken a part of that, including the students who actually took part in, in Keith Hawkins stuff because you actually had to do something. You actually had to stand up and be a part of it and that wasn't easy. So thank you all for doing that.
Ramirez: Okay, so what will I take to ensure a safe school environment for people of all genders and races? It really, it breaks my heart that this has to be addressed. There are federal protections to ensure a safe school environment for people of all genders and races. This has to be a top priority for the school board and the administration.
Because these problems currently exist, we must actively and proactively engage in making change. I support the student policy recommendations presented to the board in May of 2022, and the input provided just last month through a joint board presentation made by students and superintendent Chris Meredith.
These recommendations include trainings, staff resources in the form of a dedicated coordinator, work on an effective discipline approach, and we should remember that the root of the word discipline is instruction. .
Nagle: I did want to point out that on the agenda, we do have a job description for a part-time coordinator to work with Title II, VI and IX issues. So that is something that came under the student group that we are going to be doing, if it passes the board, I should say. And to point out that we're taking a leading role in this, there's not many school districts, in fact, I think there's only one, which I believe is Rincon Valley that actually even has this. SCOE just hired this position. So we're taking a proactive approach and we're leading forward. We're not just sitting around waiting. We're actually moving forward and doing something, and we're gonna go out and do it before everybody else does it, because we believe it's the right thing to do.
8. What is your opinion on maintaining a seven period schedule? Additionally, how will budget decisions affect elective classes?
Nagle: I'm a very strong proponent of electives and the seven period day. I think electives are the thing that help students that don't necessarily love math. Sorry, if there's a math teacher in here but that they really excite them. Things like drama or music, or cooking or culinary, ag, those are the things that people actually really enjoy.
And it helps them find their people and grounds them in their culture and keeps them coming to school. I was not a great student when I was in school. I did well enough because I had electives and I got to play sports and I needed to maintain a certain GPA, and that was important to me, and I think that's really important to a lot of kids.
Our seven period day gives us the great ability to offer lots of different electives. It also gives us the ability for kids to keep them engaged at the same time, giving them flexibility in their schedule to get the requirements done. I also want to point out that about 26% of our enrollment is transfers from outside of our district.
They're coming here because of our diverse offerings. So about 387 of our students, of our 1,467 students are transferring in to take these classes. So when you ask about how does that impact the budget, we need to be very careful when we look at that because it's an easy thing to say --Oh, if we just eliminate seven period day, we could reduce headcount. We could save money, but how many of those 387 kids would no longer come here?
So you have to really sit and really think about what would the impact be more than just the seven period day. Because if we eliminated, let's just say 387 students no longer came here, that's a 5.5 million dollar loss right there of ADA. How would we be able to overcome that? So that's one of the things that I really take very seriously.
I think the seven period day is essential. I don't call them electives. I call them essential electives because I feel that they are important to our students. It attracts people to our district and we need to expand not contract on it.
Ramirez: This is the only state funded school district in Sonoma County that has a standard seven period day schedule. According to Sonoma County Superintendent Dr. Harrington's report in June, district administration here is currently in discussion with advisors from the County Office of Education to evaluate the wisdom in continuing the practice, in light of the ongoing structural deficit.
Administrators have presented hybrid options in the past, which would allow students who wish to take advantage of additional programming during optional before and/or after school course offerings. Taking into consideration that fewer than half of Analy students utilize seven periods during the 2020-2021 school year and 20% were taking classes for credit without content such as TA and office aid, it appears that that there may be an opportunity to more effectively offer a wider variety of content-based electives if a hybrid six/seven period schedule were offered. Electives are critical for our students to achieve a well rounded education.
And they provide a great way to explore a variety of curriculum pathways. If elected, I will look forward to delving into how to best utilize the resources we have to provide the widest variety of engaging elective classes possible.
Are there any final comments or topics you would like to discuss?
Nagle: First and foremost, again, I'd just like to thank everyone for coming. It's great to see the room full. You guys did a great job and I'm glad we could raise a little bit of money for your club. I view this as my opportunity to bring up why me? I've worked really hard to do the job in a way that I thought was the right way.
I've been fortunate enough and blessed enough to get the endorsement of our teachers here at Analy and Laguna, the special education consortium, Sebastopol elementary teachers from Brookhaven and Parkside. I was just informed tonight that the Gravenstein Unified District has endorsed me with Hillcrest and Gravenstein, and the Democratic Party has all endorsed me, which for me makes me feel like I've done it the right way.
It's hard. This is not an easy task, right? You're a volunteer. There's no money, there's no financial benefit to do this. You're doing it because you want to do something for your community. You want to serve your community. My grandfather always told me, and he was an apple farmer here in town and graduated from Analy in the 1930s, is that you don't have the right to complain unless you're willing to do something to fix it.
So for me, I'm here because I was willing to do something to fix it. It wasn't always easy. A lot of people wrote me not so nice emails. A lot of people said a lot of not so nice things about me. I've learned a lot about myself. And a lot of it's true. But I've seen a lot. I've heard a lot. But more importantly, I wanted to make this the school that I wanted it to be, and I want it to be the best.
And for me, that's what it's really about. So I'm happy and proud to, to have done the job that I've done, and I'm hopeful to continue to do it into the future because I want to do it, not because there's any glory. You didn't know that, right? They're not paying us right. But no.
So again, I thank everyone for coming. If anyone wants to ask me questions, I know we're not taking questions from the audience. I will stay, I'll be right in there in that corner. You want to come yell at me about something, I'll happily listen. And again, thank you all for coming and again, you guys, thank you for going on a great opportunity and a great event.
Ramirez: So thank you Allison and Dylan for stepping in the 11th hour and the Debate Club for putting this great well organized event together. I hope we raise lots of money so the Debate Club can participate in competitions this year. I also wanted to acknowledge today on Indigenous People's Day and every day here in the West Sonoma County Union High School District, we live, work, and play on the native lands of the Southern Pomo, Coast Miwok, and Kashia. Today is a day to honor the cultures and histories of the Native American people and look toward their wisdom and valuable insights into how we can live life more sustainably today and into the future.
If anyone in the audience would like more information about my perspective on the topics we covered here this evening, or if you'd like to see a list of testimonials from county elected officials, area school board trustees, teachers, school staff, students and community members who endorse my candidacy for this position, you can visit my website, which is debbieramirez4schoolboard.com.
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