View Mobile Site

Text Size: Smaller Larger Normal

TUSD election end of an era

TUSD election end of an era

Eileen Hamilton


POSTED October 28, 2011 11:37 p.m.

Candidates vying for the four open seats on the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees all have a plan to keep education a priority, while balancing an ever-dwindling budget.
While every election is important, this year's race marks the end of an era as well. The Nov. 8 election is fast approaching and with it the end of city-wide seats for the TUSD board. Beginning with the 2013 election, TUSD trustees will be elected by district.

Eileen Hamilton (incumbent)
Bio: I have lived in Turlock for 35 years. I am a retired teacher and I taught in the Turlock Unified School District for 13 years. I have two grown children who attended TUSD schools from kindergarten to high school graduation. As far as my age; good luck!

Journal: Why are you running for the TUSD Board of Trustees?
Hamilton: I'm running for reelection after serving four years on the Board of Trustees. I feel I have a good grasp on the issues and I feel I've been an effective board member. With another four years I can continue to improve and be an effective board member. I am here for the children, teachers and administrators.

Journal: What do you feel is the most important issue affecting TUSD?
Hamilton: I think the most important issue is fiscal responsibility and maintaining financial stability. It is so important to provide the best education possible for our students. Children need to be equipped with the tools needed to be educated, responsible citizens.

Journal: Do you feel children in TUSD are getting a good education and why?
Hamilton: Yes I do. I have had the opportunity to visit schools and I can see the how hard the teachers work. The teachers have wonderful interaction with the students; we have an outstanding group of professional, dedicated teachers who really care about the students.

Journal: Compared to many other school districts in the region TUSD is in fairly good financial shape. What are some ways TUSD can continue to sustain a balanced budget in coming years?
Hamilton: Our previous boards had some foresight to increase money going into reserves and that has helped us to be able to continue to look at creative ways to keep a balanced budget. We have to be creative up and down the district from transportation to education. We have to cut waste and look for grants and make wise decisions with our money. We have to be thrifty but still focus on maintaining a quality education while still being financially sound. This means keeping cuts away from kids in the classroom. And we need to maintain our wonderful music and arts programs.

Journal: Test scores throughout TUSD have been increasing in the last three years. What are some strategies you as a board member would encourage to ensure this streak continues?
Hamilton: Having been a teacher, I understand the challenges that teachers face and how hard they are working. We must continue to provide our teachers with the time and opportunities to share ideas, strategies, and collaborate to meet the educational needs of all the students. Our teachers are very committed to their students and provide tremendous guidance.
When teachers have the time to learn strategies and then implement them in the classroom, our students benefit.


Grady Welch
Bio: I am 39 years old and I am a parole agent with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation- Division of Adult Parole Operations. I was born and raised in Turlock and have not lived anywhere else other than a short while during my service with the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves, stationed at Monterey. I have one son (Steven) who graduated Turlock High School and attended Cunningham, Julien and Turlock Jr. High. Currently I have two sons (Kaleb and Max) attending Walnut Education Center, after having attended Cunningham and Julien as well, and I have a 3-year-old son (Sam) who will also attend Turlock schools.

Journal: Why are you running for the TUSD Board of Trustees?
Welch: Because I want to be involved in the decisions and educational experiences of my children and Turlock's children. I want to help give them the best education possible, without sacrificing people's jobs and/or the quality of their education.

Journal: What do you feel is the most important issue affecting TUSD?
Welch: I believe the budget and the status of our economy are the most pressing issues in our school district, as well as the community as a whole. Coming up with a budget that works, has no hidden agendas, and provides for all on a fair and competent level will be a challenge, but a challenge that I am completely up for.

Journal: Do you feel children in TUSD are getting a good education and why?
Welch: I do believe TUSD provides a quality education, because of the dedicated employees of the district, but there is always room for improvement. The lack of substitute teachers on any given day, or the lack of much needed materials are things that I will make sure are never overlooked when planning for the highest quality of education for our students.

Journal: Compared to many other school districts in the region TUSD is in fairly good financial shape. What are some ways TUSD can continue to sustain a balanced budget in coming years?
Welch: I believe that the conservative approach that the district has taken over the years to maintain a good reserve is a good idea - to an extent. The reserves should not be maintained at a high level, by way of sacrificing jobs and/or needed materials/resources. One way to sustain a balanced budget would be to look at positions within the district that can be either eliminated and or "job-shared" to reduce cost and always to be better "shoppers" when it comes to purchasing materials for our schools.

Journal: Test scores throughout TUSD have been increasing in the last three years. What are some strategies you as a board member would encourage to ensure this streak continues?
Welch: To continue the hiring of experienced, well-rounded teachers who are truly in the classrooms to be the shapers and molders of our students. Also to provide awareness and give credit to the true importance that classified staff have in the educational experiences of our students - all of those "others" who are also teaching our children on a daily basis, in some shape and form.


Harinder Grewal
Bio: I have lived in Turlock for six years and since 2005, my family and I have lived in Keyes, which falls under the Turlock Unified School District. I am a senior agricultural weights and measures inspector with the Stanislaus County Department of Agriculture. I am married to my wife Baljeet, who has been a nursing assistant with Doctors Medical Center for 21 years. We have two children, my daughter Love is in her first year at CSU Stanislaus and my son, Arjun is a senior at Modesto High School- IB program. My children went to Salida Middle School, Modesto High School- IB program. I am 47 years old.
Journal: Why are you running for the TUSD Board of Trustees?
Grewal: My 20 years of leadership experience will help the school district to move in the right direction. I will bring a broad perspective to the school board. I feel my ability to be objective and fair, along with my strength in fiscal responsibility, makes me an excellent candidate. I have the ability to keep our district on course to continued success. I am eager to devote the time and energy to fulfill my duties. I have a Ph.D., MS and MBA.

Journal: What do you feel is the most important issue affecting TUSD?

Grewal: I feel the budget is the most important issue affecting TUSD. Financial responsibility and sustainability are my top priorities.

Journal: Do you feel children in TUSD are getting a good education?

Grewal: Yes, children in TUSD are getting a good education thanks to the teachers for wonderful work. I strongly believe that children are our future. The future of our nation and providing quality education is the key to a strong foundation. I am proud of our teachers and the administration for providing a good, quality education.

Journal: Compared to many other school districts in the region TUSD is in fairly good financial shape. What are some ways TUSD can continue to sustain a balanced budget in coming years?

Grewal: I agree that the Turlock Unified School District is in fairly good financial shape as compared to the other school districts in our county. Thanks to the current and previous board members. We all know that we have to be very careful with finances. Financial responsibility and sustainability are my top priority.

Journal: Test scores throughout TUSD have been increasing in the last three years. What are some strategies you as a board member would encourage to ensure this streak continues?
Grewal: Test scores have increased in the last three years, again thanks to our teachers and their great work. We should continue with the same strategy, and look for improvements to do better in future. We know that life is a learning process, never think that we learned everything, there is always room for improvement.


Frank M. Lima (incumbent)
Bio: Except for a combined eight years at U.C. Davis and U.C.L.A., I've spent my entire life of 47 years in Turlock. I was born at Emanuel Medical Center on Canal Drive in 1964. I am an attorney in private practice in Turlock since 1990.
I have three children, ages 9, 13 and 16 who all attend TUSD schools. My oldest child was in kindergarten in Ms. Pimentel's class at Brown School, and my two youngest children were both kindergarten students of Mrs. Alvares at Crane School where I went to kindergarten.

Journal: Why are you running for the TUSD Board of Trustees?
Lima: I seek TUSD Board re-election so I may continue to work to maintain the fiscal integrity of our school district while at the same time promote student achievement. I am able to set aside any personal agenda and always try to address issues in a manner that hopefully is always in the best interest of our students. I expect TUSD to maintain appropriate budget reserves and continue to improve instruction and academic achievement. TUSD must promote high educational standards, offer strong vocational and extracurricular programs, and provide facilities that are commensurate with the quality of our community.
As a school district, we must demand an efficient, coordinated and comprehensive approach to educating our youth. We must recognize the effort and commitment of all employees serving our children, and demand that we continue to focus on the common goal of educating our youth in a safe school environment. We must collaborate with our parents to ensure that our children come to school prepared to learn. We must engage our community, including the City of Turlock and CSU Stanislaus, for support and collaboration. We have a great community, and we must insist on great public schools.
Journal: What do you feel is the most important issue affecting TUSD?
Lima: The most important issue affecting TUSD is finding the means of protecting the integrity of the educational system when the state continues to cut our funding. We cannot allow the state budget crisis to distract us from our commitment to our youth and our obligation to preserve and protect the quality of our schools for the benefit of our children and our community.

Journal: Do you feel children in TUSD are getting a good education?
Lima: The children in our community have the opportunity to receive an excellent education in TUSD due to the hard work and commitment of all of the teachers, site and district administrators and support staff in our schools. However, no matter how good or bad we judge our public schools, we have the obligation to make our schools better. We can never become complacent. We must hold ourselves and our schools to the highest of standards. We cannot make excuses for our failures, and although we should enjoy and recognize our successes, we must always strive to make our schools and the educational opportunities for our students better.

Journal: Compared to many other school districts in the region TUSD is in fairly good financial shape. What are some ways TUSD can continue to sustain a balanced budget in coming years?
Lima: This board and prior Turlock school boards have insisted on appropriate budget reserves so that we may withstand the uncertainty and risk imposed on our schools from the ineptness of the state legislative process. Educating our youth is a labor intensive process that results in 90% of our general, unrestricted budget being committed to the salary and benefits of our employees. If the state cuts our budget further without federal government relief, the TUSD administration needs to engage all employee groups to work for a balanced budget.

Journal: Test scores throughout TUSD have been increasing in the last three years. What are some strategies you as a board member would encourage to ensure this streak continues?
Lima: We need a total "buy in" from all stake holders in a child's education to maximize our potential for academic achievement. As parents and as a community, we need to take responsibility for our youth and make sure each child comes to school well fed and ready to learn. We need to support the teachers, administrators and staff and recognize the commitment they make every day for our youth, and they, in turn, need to recognize the unique qualities of each student, and that each student is a customer or client of the school that deserves the best possible service.

* Candidates Miguel Galvez and Andrew Johnson did not respond to the Journal's questions by press time.

 

 

Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting is not available.

Share on Facebook Bookmark and Share
Commenting not available.

Please wait ...