The Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District has a unique feature in that it serves students in one city, Belmont, and a portion of another city, Redwood Shores, which is part of Redwood City. Separating the two areas is Highway 101, and though there are differences between the two communities the school district is a powerful common characteristic. In years past, there has been a divide between the two communities but much has been done in recent years to bridge that gap. Communication has been lacking at times and all seven candidates for three open seats on the Board of Trustees point to the need for improvement in that critical component.
Each candidate brings an important point of view and each would serve the district well on the board. However, the three who deserve your vote are Rakesh Hegde, Amy Koo and Charles Velschow.
Velschow was appointed in 2011 to replace Michael Parker, when Parker stepped down. At the time of his appointment, his experience as an educator was touted as bringing a much-needed point of view to the board. He has three children in the district and was co-chair of a previous parcel tax campaign. With two incumbents opting out of re-election, retaining some amount of experience on the board is important. Besides, Velschow was on the board that named a new superintendent, Michael Milliken, who just started in July. It is appropriate to allow Velschow to work with the new district head he had a hand in hiring. Velschow also provides an enthusiastic energy, common-sense know-how and unique perspective as both a teacher in another district and a parent in the district.
Koo is best known for her advocacy in trying to create a new language immersion program within the district. Though her effort ultimately fell short, it is evidence of her willingness to try new things and reflect a growing need in the district. She also shows a firm grasp of the district’s finances, need for renewed communication channels, issues with capacity and need to determine the best path for new Common Core curriculum readiness. We look forward to seeing her work within the district to meet its needs and identify future needs.
Hegde has been an involved parent for a while through fundraising and the parcel tax renewal campaign. He brings a no-nonsense approach to any discussion and focuses on the need to provide the best educational opportunities for all students. His experience in the district provides a certain amount of base knowledge that can only serve all the schools well. He also understands the changing nature of both school finance and curriculum and will likely hit the ground running while keeping a constant ear on the community to ensure that every board decision has everyone in mind.
Voters in both Belmont and Redwood Shore have other great candidates from which to choose, and we hope the others continue to be involved to ensure the district always moves forward in the most responsive and responsible way. But Hegde, Koo and Velschow are the right choices for the three open eats on the Board of Trustees.