School board unity, new curriculum, fiscal solutions and enrollment issues are all of concern to those running for the San Bruno Park School District Board of Trustees.
There are three seats open on the board. Patrick Flynn was appointed to replace longtime trustee Skip Henderson, who retired. Trustee James Prescott is not running for re-election since he retired for health reasons. Flynn, incumbent Henry Sanchez, John P. Marinos and Charles (Chuck) Zelnik are all running.
Interviews were held to help the Daily Journal determine endorsements. To allow each candidate a forum to express their opinions on the issues discussed, candidates were given the same questions and asked to answer each in 50 words or fewer. Answers are arranged alphabetically by the candidate’s last name.
What curriculum changes would you like to see at the district?
Patrick Flynn: We are already switching to the Common Core standards, which I truly support. Common Core to me is teaching children how to use their knowledge in real world applications. We know that children can acquire knowledge, but testing and applying that knowledge in a working environment will make them more valuable in the working world. Having El Crystal as our science, technology, engineering and math school is a good start.
John P. Marinos: Full alignment to the common core, actual professional development, increasing technology and modernizing textbooks.
Henry Sanchez: The complete adaption of the California Common Core standards would be a needed change to our current curriculum. CCCS provides the opportunity to embed technology in a systematically and thoughtful approach through K-12 grades for English/language arts, mathematics and content specific subject matter.
Charles (Chuck) Zelnik: The new Common Core curriculum will create some delivery changes. I would like to see new and/or additional electives at Parkside Middle School; resources and possible financial assistance for PTA/PTO-funded programs such as elementary music and art and financial support for our administrators, teachers and staff. I will work with other board members to enhance the quality of learning at our schools.
Do you think Superintendent David Hutt is providing solid leadership?
Patrick Flynn: No. Public opinion of the district is pretty low even though our API scores are not too bad considering our challenges. The reasons are we sold a school site. We closed a school site. We haven’t had a balanced budget in 10 years. Distrust of the administration probably caused the failure of two ballot measures for the district.
John P. Marinos: The current board must of felt so since they just renewed his contract for four years.
Henry Sanchez: He has constantly demonstrated solid leadership in a multitude of fiscal, instructional, infrastructural and personnel issues that the SBPSD has had to face with integrity and honesty to the San Bruno community. During his tenure, the student educational achievement district-wide has steadily risen.
Charles (Chuck) Zelnik: No. Examples of his disastrous leadership include, but are not limited to, school closure, attendance boundary area changes and lack of fiscal management for the last four years, which is evident by furlough days and deficit spending.
The district pursued a parcel tax in November 2012. It was unsuccessful, do you think it should try again?
Patrick Flynn: Yes. We need the money to help our schools get back to class size reduction. At least in the lower grades, 31 kids per teacher is too much to ask in K-1. We also need to reduce split classes to zero. That will take ongoing income.
John P. Marinos: Depends on the new state funding formula.
Henry Sanchez: The SBPSD has lost $4-$5 million in state funding since 2007 and the district is considered a “poor small basic aid district,” which has forced the district to take drastic measures including school closure, etc. Therefore, we should pursue again an educational parcel tax for the children of San Bruno.
Charles (Chuck) Zelnik: With no opposition to the last parcel tax, voters showed they do not trust the current board and superintendent. If three new board members are elected, it will re-establish community trust and if the uses of the parcel tax are spelled out clearly, in other words, specificity is applied to the parcel tax language, then it may stand a better chance of passing.
What is your stance on enrollment issues and school closures?
Patrick Flynn: It wasn’t the closing of a school that got me to run, it was how it was done. Crestmoor wasn’t just closed, it was tortured and slain. By that I mean that over five years there were committees that scared families at Crestmoor into leaving the school. The Crestmoor issue needed better communication. Why are you closing our school? Do you plan on selling it? Where will my children go? These questions needed answering a year prior to closing the school.
John P. Marinos: We need to do more things to make them more attractive so students come here.
Henry Sanchez: Recently, the SBPSD has been having an increasing enrollment, and has had one school closure to save money and reduce combination classes throughout the district. School closure is only used as a method to address fiscal issues and improve the quality of education of the children and professional staff experience.
Charles (Chuck) Zelnik:As far as school closures and enrollment issues are concerned, fiscal management drives them. We need to quit deficit spending, develop and implement a five-year plan. Then school closures and enrollment will not be issues in the near future.
What qualities would you like to see brought to the Board of Trustees?
Patrick Flynn: Honesty and clear concise communication are most important. Stop deficit spending. Support the San Bruno Education Foundation. I wish the board would realize that we, as board members, represent the public as the leadership of this school district. Too many times have I seen the board attempting to lead the public. For instance, did the public ever ask for solar on the roofs of our schools? Shouldn’t we have finished our middle school first? Where exactly did the $30 million from the sale of the Sandburg site go?
John P. Marinos: Open communication and knowing the difference between understanding and agreeing.
Henry Sanchez: The needed qualities of the Governing Board of Trustees are honesty, integrity, transparency, consistent messaging, good self-governance practices and full participation of all five governing board members.
Charles (Chuck) Zelnik: Trust, forthrightness, quality of listening and hearing the school staff and parents who are the first and foremost teachers of our children. I want to break down the animosity barrier between the district office administration/trustees versus the parents and school staff. This can only be accomplished if three new board members are elected.
Education: Trade school, four year apprenticeship
Experience: Chief stationary engineer, founding president of the San Bruno Education Foundation
Family: Married, three sons
Residence: San Bruno for 43 years total
John P. Marinos
Education: San Francisco State University, B.S. finance
Experience: Crestmoor PTO treasurer, Past San Bruno AYSO regional treasurer, DDAC member, Current 7-11 Committee member
Family:Married, two children
Residence: San Bruno, 45 years
Education: M.S., Stanford University, M.D., University of Southern California
Experience: Physician, UCSF professor, current governing member in district
Family: Married, three children
Residence: 30 years in San Bruno
Charles J. (Chuck) Zelnik Jr.
Education: La Sierra High School, John O’Connell Trade School, General Motors University of Automotive Management
Experience: Member of San Francisco Local 2 Carpenters Union; General Motors Service and Body Shop Manager; inventory manager of various of companies, PTA president at Portola and Crestmoor
Family: Married, two adult children
Residence: San Bruno, 27 years