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Modesto City Schools Board Candidates – 2 Year Term

Your Vote Counts 2013


Council Dist. 2 | Council Dist. 4 | Council Dist. 5 | MID Div. 2 | MID Div. 3 | MID Div. 4
School Board 4 yr. | School Board 2 yr.


Modesto City Schools Board Candidate – 2 Year Term

Jordan Dickson
23 years old. Resident of Modesto for 23 years. Brand Marketer.
Fabiola Garcia
Did not participate.
Charlie Grom
50 years old. Resident of Modesto for 50 years. Local law enforcement lieutenant.
Dean Smeltzer
Did not participate.


In your own words, describe the role and responsibility of the office you seek?

Jordan Dickson: The objective of the Modesto City Schools Board of Education should always be to provide the best quality educational opportunities to all Modesto students to ensure preparedness for the post-graduation workforce. To make this a reality, the Board’s role is to serve as a policy-forming branch of our school district that is responsible for budgeting, allocation, oversight and general strategic management. Within these constrictions, the Board is accountable for salary schedules, curricula determination, capital investment for the district and its school sites, and through it all, ensuring a high-level of public transparency to teachers, parents, students and other members of our community.

At the end of the day, the School Board’s primary role and responsibility is to serve the children of our community. With this as a guiding principle, the School Board, in conjunction with teachers, staff, parents and local business leaders, can make success for every student a reality.

Fabiola Garcia: Did not participate.

Charlie Grom: My role is to assist the district staff in developing policy that is in line with California law, yet respectful of the desires of parents whose children attend Modesto City Schools. As a board member, it is my responsibility to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer money and accountable to parents, staff and employees.

Dean Smeltzer: Did not participate.

Is the organization for which you seek office operating with a balanced budget? If not, what are your plans to make the organization more financially sustainable?

Jordan Dickson: Modesto City Schools does currently operate with a balanced budget. There is also a relatively healthy reserve fund that is protected for use in the event of a financial setback. This has been accomplished by setting a firm line that the district will only spend what it can afford to pay. While this may not always be the most popular course of action, it is one I support to ensure continual fiscal health for our school district. I do advocate for more advanced forecasting infrastructure so that we can plan for five and ten years down the road and not be stuck in a completely reactionary situation. Over the next couple of years, the Board will need to work hard to ensure appropriate allocation of additional Prop 30 funding and the funding that will come under district control with the Locally Controlled Funding Formula. We are in a good place financially as a district, but will need to continue our efforts to ensure future prosperity.

Fabiola Garcia: Did not participate.

Charlie Grom: Modesto City Schools is operating within a balanced budget despite the effects of the current recession and at the determent of its reserves. I would like to examine how the district could reevaluate its current long-term bond obligations and liabilities.

Dean Smeltzer: Did not participate.

What should be the primary goals and objectives of Modesto City Schools?

Jordan Dickson: At E. & J. Gallo Winery, we operate with an OGSM structure. If we prescribe this method to Modesto City Schools, our objective should be to provide the best quality educational opportunities to all Modesto students to ensure preparedness for the post-graduation workforce. As we drill down from that objective, I believe there are two primary goals for MCS. First, we should be equipping our students with real-world applicable skills. This could take strategic form in both critical thinking and problem solving based curriculum, like Common Core, and in strong vocational programs. Second, we should strive to provide teachers, staff and especially students with the resources needed in order for students to reach basic levels of competency. This will come to fruition through appropriate allocation, within the Locally Controlled Funding system, for 21st century classroom necessities, class size reduction efforts and security assurances to provide a safe place for our students to learn.

Fabiola Garcia: Did not participate.

Charlie Grom: To create a safer environment for students that will enable them to learn and be successful. I also believe the district will need to invest in infrastructure (technological and resources) given the shift to Common Core Standards for learning and testing.

Dean Smeltzer: Did not participate.

What will be your top priority as a Board Member? Describe the measures you will take to address this priority.

Jordan Dickson: My top priority as a Board Member is appropriately allocating funds, resources and staffing needs to reduce class sizes to a reasonable level. We are entering an era in which we are asking our schools to prepare students for real-world competency. This real-world skillset simply cannot be achieved if we aren’t giving teachers the opportunity to help students achieve success in individualized ways. From kindergarten through high school, we are asking our teachers to provide more specialized, individual consideration to ensure competency in critical thinking and problem solving. That cannot happen if our teachers aren’t energized about having a manageable number of students. If our ultimate objective remains providing the best quality educational opportunities to all Modesto students to ensure preparedness for the post-graduation workforce, then we need to empower our teachers to make that happen.

Fabiola Garcia: Did not participate.

Charlie Grom: My top priority will be to encourage parents to become more involved in their child’s educational development. As a Board Member, I would like to personally engage with local business to find creative ways for their employees with children in the Modesto City Schools system to have flexible options to participate in their child’s educational process. Children benefit when they see parents and other adults fully committed to their education.

Dean Smeltzer: Did not participate.

What role does Modesto City Schools District play in better preparing our young people for careers after graduation?

Jordan Dickson: The district has two primary responsibilities in this regard. First, we need to provide advocacy, funding, technology and training to support Common Core curriculum. Common Core is entirely about critical thinking, problem solving and cross-subject competency in math and English. All of this is meant to prepare students for real-world jobs. It does a child little benefit to memorize a fact about the War of 1812. But it is valuable to be able to analyze the cause and effect of the War of 1812. Analyzing, critical thinking and problem solving can be beneficial in almost any career and in life in general. Secondly, the district needs to provide high-quality vocational programs and academies to prepare students for direct entrance into the workforce. College is not for everyone and that’s okay. We need to ensure that students who want to work straight out of high school have that opportunity by providing them with the skills and connections necessary to make the transition.

Fabiola Garcia: Did not participate.

Charlie Grom: We need to ensure the proper amount of emphasis on preparation for higher education, as well as vocational education. Our schools should be focused on meeting the needs of the local workforce by developing partnerships and openly communicating with those businesses whose future employees will be graduating from Modesto City Schools. This not only includes the need to prepare students for college, but also those who are vital for trade occupations.

Dean Smeltzer: Did not participate.

What are your plans for facilitating the creation of new, living wage jobs in our area?

Jordan Dickson: My plan to promote new, living wage jobs in Modesto is focused on providing high-quality candidates for those jobs. I am a strong advocate for vocational academies in our high schools and community partnerships between our students and local businesses. The Common Core Curriculum, which has been newly implemented in our District, is all about preparing our students for real world competency. As an advocate for that system, I will work closely with our other community leaders to provide Modesto businesses, new and old, with the highest quality candidates for employment. The best way to cultivate the job market in Modesto is to ensure that our businesses have a reason to come to Modesto in the first place and then providing them with a skilled and prepared workforce of local individuals to make that business thrive.

Fabiola Garcia: Did not participate.

Charlie Grom: The answer to this question is directly linked to the educational system and the need to create a strong and sustainable workforce. If our children are not graduating with the necessary, employable skills, we will continue down the path of employment stagnation. This goes back to partnering with local business and industry to determine their employment needs for the future.

Dean Smeltzer: Did not participate.

 

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