After being appointed to the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees in December, Kenneth Howenstine participated in his first meeting as Area 3’s representative on Tuesday night.
Following the resignation of former Trustee Ken Malech on Nov. 4, Howenstine was one of three applicants interested in the newly-vacated position. Along with Lacy Elliot and George Gijalva, Howenstine was interviewed by the Board Dec. 17 and subsequently selected and appointed as Area 3’s new trustee.
Howenstine, a graduate of Stanislaus State and Turlock resident since 2003, said it was his oldest son who inspired him to become involved with TUSD — first through the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan steering committee and now through a more prominent role on the Board. He wanted to run for the Board in 2018, he added, but didn’t live in the Area which was up for election.
His 13-year-old son is now a student at Turlock Junior High School and first began receiving services through TUSD at age three via the speech and language pathology department. Howenstine and his wife also have an eight-year-old son who attends Brown Elementary School. He believes his insight as a parent to both a special education student and a general education student will give him a unique perspective on the Board.
“You really have to learn how to advocate for yourself and for your child in special education, and we’ve always had great administrators who worked hard for not just our children, but all of the students. That’s a hallmark of the entire district,” Howenstine said. “From what I could tell there wasn’t a SPED (special education) presence on the Board — not that we needed one — but I felt like it was a voice that should be present.”
Howenstine, a sales engineer, believes his time working with TUSD on the LCAP has adequately prepared him for his position on the Board. The LCAP steering committee works closely with administration to generate ideas on how state funding should be spent.
“From a high level, it gave me a better understanding of what our district is doing in terms of planning and the goals the district is setting for students, parents and the future,” he said. “I think one thing that’s really unique about our district is our rolling 10-year plan. There’s a lot of forethought that even I as a general parent wasn’t aware of. To have that forethought and passion to make sure there’s prudent governance within our district is something that’s evident with the LCAP.”
Howenstine said his goals for his term on the Board, which ends November 2022, is the continued execution and revision of TUSD’s 10-year strategic plan as well as ensuring students and teachers have proper access to adequate resources. As to whether or not he’ll run for election when the time comes is still to be seen. For now, Howenstine hopes to continue the district’s transparency when it comes to COVID-related topics within the city’s schools.
“Our community is successful when our students are successful, and we can’t do that without the proper resources,” he said. “COVID has been limiting to my children and their experience, so right now I’m trying to understand at a larger level what our district has done and continues to do...I think the transparency I’ve seen so far from administration is really remarkable.”