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      Know Your PUSD Candidates (Photo – Graphics Dept.)

      ColoradoBoulevard.net presented three fundamental questions to the eight candidates for the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Board of Education.

      By Editorial Board

      We received the following responses: (Candidates are in alphabetical order).

      Question #1:

      How do you envision the future of the PUSD?

      Decorative Mike Crowley (District 2):

      The District I see will put our teachers first giving them a voice and making sure kids are not data points that can be moved around at will. We must equip teachers and staff with the tools they need to provide a High Quality Education. We must ensure the well-being of our students and staff by promoting anti-bully programs and school safety initiatives, and we must establish equity for the District making all schools great.

      DecorativeJennifer Hall Lee (District 2):

      There is a national conversation happening now about integration and segregation in our public schools. PUSD has a rich history that includes being the first district in the west to have court mandated busing. Only one generation of Americans has experienced the richness of busing because of court challenges. I believe we can envision our District, much smaller than it once was, to include our history with integration and join this national conversation.

      decorative Wayne Hammack (District 2):

      I see the pandemic as an opportunity for a refresh of PUSD, allowing us to come out of this stronger than before.  I see a future in which our work to promote the District’s outstanding programs, building off of what is working so well, has drawn more families into the District who otherwise would not have given PUSD a second look.  I hope that by working together we make PUSD the choice for families in the area.

      decorative Patrick Cahalan (District 4):

      This is a difficult question to answer because of matters outside our direct control:  the outcome of Measure O and Prop 15, California’s budget federal relief for states, the outcome of the national elections, and decisions with respect to the disposal of the District’s surplus property.  The most solid prediction I can make is that four years from now, our staff will still be providing a quality education to a majority of PUSD –area students and those students will continue to thrive with the aid of our community partners.

      decorativeScott Harden (District 4):

      I dream of an empathetic, equitable and inclusive District where students of all backgrounds have the same educational opportunities, and where prospective familiar see clear, unique program value apart from all the other educational choices in this area.  From day one as a Board member, I’ll work hand-in-glove with the entire community to co-design a 10-year District vision and success roadmap to get us there.  I’m a school leader and a change design strategist.  I have the skills to do it.

      decorativeCrystal Czubernat (District 6):

      PUSD is at a crossroads, and we need to change and adapt to the future by offering programs that increase enrollment, improving PUSD’s reputation and providing more distance learning options. As I envision the future of PUSD, families will be thrilled to send their children to the schools, our enrollment will steadily increase, and we will provide programs that reflect the needs and desires of the families in our district.

      decorativeTina Wu Fredericks (District 6):

      PUSD will restore its world-class level of education. A quality education starts with smaller class sizes, which would allow PUSD to compete with private and charter schools. Teachers would give each student the attention they need.  Every school would have the basic staff, including nurse, custodian, librarian, and counselor. PUSD schools would work towards an integrated community school model where academics, health and social services, and community engagement leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities.

      decorativePriscilla Hernandez (District 6):

      I envision a School District that provides the highest quality education to all our students. With my experience in the Governor’s office, leading an organization, and having a specialization in Public Administration, I will utilize my skillset to help offset cost while ensuring more of our dollars are spent in classrooms. I favor innovative educational programs and partnerships to provide our students with real-world skills to help them achieve future success.

      Question #2: 

      How will new initiatives, if any, be funded in the PUSD Budget?

      Mike Crowley (District 2):

      Has Prop 15 won?  Has Measure O won?  If those have won in November, the District will have the capital for improvements.  Have we gotten the kids back to school?  Safely?  That is a new initiative in the upcoming year.  Are teachers and staff all safe?  If the answer is Yes, please let’s get the kids back to school.

      Jennifer Hall Lee (District 2):

      I love our programs in our schools and I want to keep them. California has not funded public education as it once did prior to Prop 13. The first step in ensuring that we have funding to embrace new initiatives is to understand how our schools are funded and repair our budgetary problems. Budgets reflect our values. It’s important for all children to know that we value them.

      Wayne Hammack (District 2):

      We need to look at what’s working and what isn’t. Where things are not giving us the most bang for the buck, find out why and consider whether those programs should be continued.  Where we could be using our money better elsewhere for new initiatives, we will make that happen.

      Patrick Cahalan (District 4):

      There currently is no discretionary room in the PUSD general budget.  Depending on the outcomes described in my answer to Question #1, the general budget may need to be cut.  That would mean that new initiatives must come from (a) a dedicated funding source (e.g. a grant or targeted parcel tax), or (b) raising revenues from District assets (leases, swaps, outright sale of property).  Grants are a possible solution but they  eventually expire and provide no ongoing support for an initiative if not used to increase District capacity.

      Scott Harden (District 4):

      The challenge that exists now is that we don’t have a clear focus on priorities, so we tend to run into funding collisions on most new initiates.  That’s the beauty of the community-led vision and roadmap process I outlined in response to Question #1.  Community convergence to determine opportunities, design solutions, prioritize those solutions and, when creative funding is necessary, work together to find the best opportunities to pay for the great solutions we all design that address our biggest challenges.

      Crystal Czubernat (District 6):

      As we look to the future, we will face unprecedented budgetary challenges as a result of Covid -19.  If proposition 15 is passed, it will give us the funds to reevaluate our budget and provide a long-term strategy for growth and sustainability for generations to come.

      Tina Wu Fredericks (District 6):

      We have a historic opportunity to bring billions of dollars to California public schools by voting Yes on Schools & Communities First Proposition 15 on the November 3 ballot. This is the one bright beacon of hope for funding amidst our crisis. Budgets are a statement of our values.  Let’s ensure our tax dollars make public education a priority. 10% of California’s most expensive nonresidential commercial properties account for 92% of Prop 15’s loophole-closing revenues.

      Priscilla Hernandez (District 6):

      I support an aggressive community outreach initiative to address declining student enrollment. More than marketing techniques, the goal of the District should be to employ outside partnerships/collaborations, putting PUSD on the table when parents make early education choices. Initiating AB3064 and having worked on statewide initiatives, I recognize the importance of working together to achieve progress. The District’s aim should be to make our public schools the FIRST CHOICE for families within the District.

      Question #3:

      Do you have children enrolled in PUSD?

      Mike Crowley (District 2):

      Yes, I am proud of my 9 year old 4th grader at Don Benito Fundamental school in Upper Hastings Ranch.  This school at one time was the pride and jewel of PUSD.  Seriously.  Two-year waiting lists.  It has been let go to a school in so much need of repair.  If elected, I promise hard work and commitment not to let this happen again.

      Jennifer Hall Lee (District 2):

      Yes, my child is enrolled at Blair High School.

      Wayne Hammack (District 2):

      My oldest son just graduated from Marshall.  My daughter is a freshman at Marshall.  My youngest son is in the 4th grade at Sierra Madre Elementary.

      Patrick Cahalan (District 4):

      Yes, my two children attend Blair High, were previously at Blair Middle and before that at Longfellow Elementary.

      Scott Harden (District 4):

      I have a daughter, Yura, enrolled at Don Benito in 5th grade.

      Crystal Czubernat (District 6):

      I have two children enrolled at PUSD’s Sierra Madre Elementary.

      Tina Wu Fredericks (District 6):

      Yes, I have a 5th grade daughter at Willard Elementary School. I have a 13 year old who attended Willard Elementary School K-5, Blair Middle School 6th grade, and then McKinley Middle Math Academy 7th grade. This fall, she was accepted and enrolled in California State University, Los Angeles, Early Entrance Program.

      Priscilla Hernandez (District 6): 

      Yes, PUSD parent at Sierra Madre.


      > Editor’s Note:  Milena Albert referred us to her responses in another publication. Editing constraints prevent us from including her responses here.


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      1. Jonathan Gardner says:

        Why were they not asked about whether they support Proposition 15 and/or Measure O? That is a fairly critical question for Pasadena voters, I would imagine.

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