ELECTION: Meet the school board candidates

By Breana Lee,
BlueDevilHUB.com Staff–

Candidates Alan Fernandes, Bob Poppenga, Jose J. Granda and Susan Lovenburg are running for a position on the Davis Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees. The election will held on Tuesday, Nov. 8. 

Candidates Fernandes and Lovenburg are already involved in the Davis School Board as a member and trustee, according to the Yolo Elections Office.

This year, two of the positions in the five member school board are open, and in two years the remaining three will be up for filling the position. Originally elected in 2007, Lovenburg is serving her third term on the school board.

“I am personally motivated because I feel like public education is one of the most important foundational tenants in a healthy democratic society. We need an education system that is inclusive and open and of strong support for all children,” Lovenburg said.  

One of Lovenburg’s top priorities is a good education for students.

“I have this belief in public education and making sure that every child receives a high quality education. That’s why I ran for school board. That’s why I served nine years,” Lovenburg said.

Lovenburg plans to address the issue of shortage of teachers in the Davis School District, which is due to low salaries.

“The board has been working on social and emotional well being and I support that. But looking forward, I think we need to focus on recruiting and retaining high quality educators,” Lovenburg said. “We need to be sure […]  that our benefits are good, and that we are an innovative place to teach so that teachers want to come here and they want to stay here,” Lovenburg said. 

The school board is also working on lowering the cost of health benefits.

“Our health benefits are good quality but they’re expensive, so we’re looking at how we can maintain the quality but lower the cost so that more of our employees are able to access the benefits,” Lovenburg said. 

As of now, some of the classified employees such as custodians, secretaries and para-educators are unable to access the health benefits because of the high expenses.

Lovenburg has “worked on advocacy at the state level particularly around funding for public education” as a delegate for the California School Board Association. She believes that the base grant for the school district is underfunded and advocates for more funding at the state level.

She has also had three children go through the Davis school system.

“You understand how kids interact in classroom with teachers, principals, and with each other and that helps to inform decisions that you’re making on the school board,” Lovenburg said.

Bob Poppenga also has two children in the Davis school system and believes that having children in the school district allows you to be connected.

“You can make connections that would not otherwise be there and understand how every child is different and has different needs,” Poppenga said.

Junior Mia Poppenga, daughter of candidate Bob Poppenga, attends Davis High and notices the effects of a school board candidate’s campaign may have on their family.

“I think the elections have been very hard on every candidate. They have to put in time and energy sometimes they have to sacrifice family time. We just hope for the best that he’ll win and we’ll just support him no matter what,” Mia Poppenga said. 

In terms of common core, Bob Poppenga supports the idea.

“I think the idea behind common core is good in thinking more broadly about a topic and to be able to get into more depth. It’s important for students to be able to think for themselves and  judgement based on the best information,” Poppenga said.

But he believes the implementation is a work in progress.

Poppenga also values teachers in the Davis school district. “They really are the corner-stone of a quality education system. I think it’s very important to recruit the best and brightest teachers.”

Poppenga says he is science driven and describes his approach on decision making. “I think having a science background is important. I’m very evidence driven. I look for what data is available or what data is needed to make a smart choice,” Poppenga said.

He also believes that “soliciting lots of opinions and being an active listener” is important as well.

Poppenga also values the university’s association in school affairs and wants citizens to know what the school board can and cannot do. When making decisions, he looks for different opinions as well as evidence.

“I think [making decisions] requires an input from a diversity of perspectives,” he said. 

Poppenga always has one fundamental goal in mind when making decisions.

“I think all decisions have to keep a focus on what’s best for the students,” Poppenga said. 

Jose Granda also values student success. He was one of the first families to start the Spanish immersion program in Birch Lane, Willett and North Davis elementary schools and reminisces on a time when he was helping two first grade girls who were learning Spanish in the beginning of the year.

They lagged slightly behind the other kids and Granda began to think that the Spanish immersion program wasn’t for them. He returned later in the year and was amazed by their progress.

“I was so surprised by March or April it was like I was helping two different people– two different girls! They had learned to read in spanish and they were doing so well. I love seeing inspiring young minds be successful,” Granda said. 

Granda specializes in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers and thinks his experience in STEM education– 34 years teaching mechanical engineering, will make him a good addition to the School Board. 

One of Granda’s main focuses is learning through technology.

“I would like to use the devices students use now and turn them into learning tools,” Granda said.

Although Granda supports the programs in Davis like AIM, vocational education and the Spanish immersion program, he is against Measure H. 

He believes that the measure is unfair because only Davis residents would be paying for the measure. The students that do not live in Davis would be exempt from the tax, as well as other Davis residents such as the elderly. He believes that the total amount of money taxed is “totally unreasonable and way too expensive” and argues that the state doesn’t need the measure due to other measures and propositions in place such as Measure E and Measure C, as well as Proposition 30.

“I am not against paying taxes for a school; I believe we should pay taxes to fund the school but under the circumstances we do not need Measure H,” Granda said.

Granda says that he stands for three ‘T’s.

“I’m running on platform of three ‘T’s: teaching and the quality of teaching, technology and taxpayers’ interests,” Granda said. 

The Civic Engagement and Mock Election will also be hosting a mock election on Nov. 8 in the Quad (or P-12 in the occurrence of rain) of DHS to mimic the real election. Students will be given a ballot almost identical to the official ballots including all of the presidential candidates, school board members and propositions to see what the voting process will be like.

School Board Representative and junior Will Alpers encourages all students to participate. “I’m really interested in what students have to say about the issues,” Alpers said.  

Editor’s Note: We attempted to contact Alan Fernandes but did not receive a reply by the article deadline. 

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