NOOZHAWK: What motivated you to run for the Goleta Union School District Board of Education? Explain your decision process.

Rich Mayer

Rich Mayer

RICH MAYER: I am running for the Goleta school board because I strongly believe that quality education is important. My commitment as a school board member will always be to provide high-quality education for the children of the Goleta Union School District. For me, serving as a school board member is a way of contributing to our community on a task that means a lot to me — providing high-quality education that will help children develop and reach their full potential.

NOOZHAWK: What unique experience or expertise do you have that is making a difference on the Goleta school board?

RM: 
My qualifications include being a parent with children educated in Goleta public schools; a UCSB professor who respects the value of good early education; a research psychologist specializing in how students learn math, science and reading; a textbook author who is familiar with effective instructional methods; and a taxpayer and neighbor living in the Goleta district for 35 years. I am grateful to be a product of public education from kindergarten through graduate school, and I believe in the role of public education as a positive force in our community. In addition, I have had the privilege of serving on the Goleta school board for the past 28 years, so I come to the job with experience working effectively with others, being financially responsible, and using common sense to solve our district’s problems.

For example, as a board member, I have worked (a) to maintain low class size in all schools; (b) to ensure that a rich instructional program is available for all students, including improved instruction in art, music, physical education, computers and science; (c) to provide instructional support so all students can reach their full potential, including reading specialists, summer school, preschool and after-school programs; (d) to attract and retain excellent teachers and staff, including providing for professional development; and (e) to be financially responsible in making sure the district stays within its budget and keeps any cuts as far away from the classroom as possible. I am pleased to report that Goleta’s test scores have increased strongly, to 865 from 775 over the past six years, including improvements in every subgroup.

I am also pleased that I have been endorsed by all of my fellow Goleta school board members (Bill Gadsby, Susan Epstein, Valerie Kushnerov and Dean Nevins), all three South Coast Santa Barbara County supervisors (Salud Carbajal, Doreen Farr and Janet Wolf), Santa Barbara School Districts board members (Kate Parker, Susan Deacon and Ed Heron), and Goleta City Council members (Roger Aceves and Margaret Connell).

NOOZHAWK: Public school funding in California seems to be in a perpetual state of crisis. Other than its status as a basic-aid district, how is the Goleta Union School District prepared to withstand funding pressures at the state level? What can the district do to strengthen itself at the local level?


RM: 
The Goleta Union School District’s budget picture will improve to the extent that our local housing and property market improves. Unlike most districts in California that depend mainly on state revenue, the Goleta school district depends mainly on local property tax revenue for its budget. This arrangement has been beneficial for our students, because through careful financial management of its available revenue, the district has been able to maintain a rich educational program for every child served by the Goleta school district. This includes maintaining small class sizes (of 20-to-1 in the primary grades and 25-to-1 in the upper grades); district-supported programs in art, music, physical education, computers and science beyond the core curriculum in language arts, math and social studies; instructional support for students who need help including reading specialists, preschool, summer school and after-school programs; and continuing professional development for teachers that focuses on instructional quality for all learners. I am committed to continuing to exercise prudent budget oversight so that the district stays within its budget while offering the best possible educational program for the students of the district.

NOOZHAWK: What do you see as the most pressing issue the Goleta Union School District will face in the next five years?

RM: My goal as a school board member is to provide a high-quality education for every child in the district. In the coming years, a challenge will be to achieve this goal within an increasingly diverse student population. To address this challenge, the district established a task force and developed a long-term strategic plan that includes a focus on differentiated instruction — an evidence-based approach for providing instruction that is appropriate for each child. The district has established continuing professional development to help teachers adjust their instruction to meet student needs. Through differentiated instruction, all students receive high-quality instruction aimed at helping them learn at the highest possible level.

NOOZHAWK: Do you support Measure Q, the $75 million school bond for Dos Pueblos High, Goleta Valley Junior High and other secondary schools in the Santa Barbara School Districts? Why or why not?

RM: 

When students leave the Goleta Union School District after sixth grade, they move on to the Santa Barbara Secondary School District for grades seven to 12. I support Measure Q because it will provide needed funding for Dos Pueblos and San Marcos high schools, Goleta Valley and La Colina junior high school, as well as the other schools in the Santa Barbara Secondary School District.

NOOZHAWK: Assess the Goleta Union School District’s infrastructure needs.


RM: The Goleta Union School District has systematically implemented its infrastructure plan, which includes replacing Isla Vista School with a modern new campus; building a much-needed multipurpose room at Brandon School; replacing classroom portables on each campus with new permanent classrooms; remodeling and updating all existing classrooms and other spaces on each campus; fixing playgrounds and playfields; replacing or repairing roofs, electrical work and plumbing on each campus; and ensuring that each campus has access to the Internet.

Voters showed their support for Goleta elementary schools by passing a bond issue several years ago that allowed many of these activities to take place. My focus will be on continuing to maintain and upgrade our nine campuses, so every child will be educated in an environment designed to promote learning. We also are exploring the addition of solar panels to our campuses in the future, as well as ways of upgrading our computer technology in computer labs, libraries and classrooms.

NOOZHAWK: Is the Goleta Union School District doing enough to provide its students with technology training? Name an initiative that it does well.


RM: The Goleta Union School District has a commitment to providing technology education to students so they will learn the skills needed to be literate in the 21st century. We have developed a computer curriculum for each grade level. We have ensured that each school provides students with access to computers and the Internet in a computer lab and in individual classrooms. My focus will be on improving and adjusting our students’ opportunities for learning with technology to keep pace with the changes in the world of technology.

NOOZHAWK: Nonprofit organizations and foundations are taking a more active role as school partners to tackle specific needs, such as nutrition. Does the Goleta Union School District fully embrace such partnerships? Name an example of a successful relationship. Name a void that might be filled by such an arrangement.

RM: 
The children of the Goleta Union School District have benefited from numerous partnerships with nonprofit organizations and foundations, as well as from generous businesses in our community. For example, the district has a partnership with the Computers for Families program, which seeks to provide refurbished home computers to students who would not otherwise have access to computers at home. Grants from the Orfalea Foundation have supported improvements in the district’s lunch nutrition program aimed at increasing the number of meals made from scratch with locally grown food. A partnership with Borders Bookstore has enabled Goleta schools to add hundreds of dollars’ worth of books to their school libraries.

Overall, these are just a few of the partnerships that continue to benefit the children of the district. As a board member, I am committed to making sure that the district maintains ongoing partnerships and seeks out new ones, including improvements in instrumental music and computer technology.

NOOZHAWK: What is the Goleta Union School District’s greatest asset?

RM: The children of the district are the greatest asset of the Goleta Union School District and of our entire community. As a school board member, my main job is to always remember the interests and needs our most precious resource — children.

The parents and families are another crucially important asset for the Goleta Union School District. Goleta is fortunate to have parents who care deeply about the education of the their children, and support their children’s education. As a board member, my job is to encourage parental input and participation in their children’s education. I am committed to keeping open the channels of communication with parents and the overall Goleta community, and to seeing that our schools are responsive and accountable to the community. I pledge to be available to hear your comments and concerns, to encourage your involvement, and to represent all the people within the district.

The teachers — and the entire school staffs — are a tremendous asset to the Goleta Union School District. In my opinion, there is no more important job than being a teacher, and Goleta is home to an incredible team of talented and committed teachers. Part of my job as a board member is to ensure that teachers and school staffs receive the professional training they need. The children of our district benefit when teachers are empowered to develop the best instructional methods for their students, without a top-down bureaucracy or unreasonable demands of testing programs to get in their way.

NOOZHAWK: Which teacher has had the biggest impact on your children, or yourself? How?


RM: Each of our three children went through the Goleta school system, and they each had teachers who strongly influenced their lives for the better. For example, one teacher was a master in helping our child develop writing skills, in building our child’s confidence as a writer, and in helping our child strive for excellence in writing — skills that proved to be useful in high school, college and beyond.

As for myself, a high school English teacher helped me develop confidence in my writing because she was so persistent in her high expectations for me and she was so willing to work with me. I have high respect for anyone who wants to be a teacher. As a board member, I favor allowing teachers the freedom to develop their own teaching styles and instructional methods that serve their students.

NOOZHAWK: How can voters learn more about your candidacy?

RM: I hope that voters will read my candidate statement in the official Voter Sample Ballot Booklet that was recently sent to each voter in the district by the Santa Barbara County Registrar of Voters. I also hope this interview will be helpful to voters. In addition, I have responded to questions published elsewhere and I have attended a candidates’ forum. I am glad to hear from voters via e-mail at mayer2472@gmail.com. My commitment is to be a responsive board member who is available to hear community comments and concerns.

NOOZHAWK: The Goleta Union School District’s Web site features a rainbow of schoolchildren on a playground. If re-elected, will you help us replace that picture with an assembly of kids in the form of Noozhawk’s logo?


RM: 
As much as I appreciate Noozhawk’s coverage of the Goleta Union School District, I would not be able to honor your request. We do not allow the students of the district to be used to advertise a business, no matter how worthy that business may be. However, I certainly hope that Noozhawk will continue to be an excellent source of information about Goleta schools, and thereby continue to serve an important role in our community. Perhaps we can agree that the image of a rainbow of schoolchildren on a playground nicely reflects what makes Goleta such a wonderful school district.

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» Click here for Pam Kinsley’s Noozhawk Q&A.

» Click here for Valerie Kushnerov’s Noozhawk Q&A.

[Noozhawk’s note: Goleta Union School board candidate Tammy Merritt did not respond to Noozhawk’s invitation to participate in our candidate Q&As.]