Campbell Patch: What sets you apart from the other candidates?
Robert Varich: Robert is proud to have worked as an advocate for kids and their parents in the education arena for 11 + years. From co-chairing walk-a-thons to raise much needed funds for school programs to coaching kids in sports. Robert graduated from the California School Boards Association Masters in Governance program and attends local, state and national conferences on education.
Robert has also been a panelist at local education town hall meetings and participated in Chamber meetings on education topics as well as met with neighborhood groups to communicate changes that the schools are planning.
Patch: What are your top three priorities you will address if elected?
Varich: First, continue to support the award winning work of the Moreland Schools. Moreland School District (MSD) has been recognized nationally, regionally and locally as a leader in education. Nationally, MSD was recognized by the National Association of School Boards with its prestigious MEGA Award. This award recognized MSD for its work with the community in closing the achievement gap for our students. MSD was one of three districts recognized from all districts in the country. MSD has also recently been recognized for Goldin, Hoffman and Distinguished School Awards.
Second, continue the work of the district to communicate with parents, neighbors and community groups on the plans of our schools. Continue to obtain feedback from the same groups to set direction of the district.
Third, expand and enhance the integration of technology in the school day of our students. Working with students to make them 21st Century learners and prepare them for life in our world as we know it.
Patch: How will you help close the achievement gap in your district's schools?
Varich: Moreland School District has been a leader in an effort to decrease the achievement gap, as evidenced by the above recognition and serving as Best Practice Model Schools for the region and our “Schools to Watch” designation.
Patch: How can you provide fiscal responsibility as well as transparency to the board's actions?
Varich: To continue fiscal responsibility and transparency the School Board meets regularly to discuss budget and interim updates. We use Budget Work Study sessions and regular updates from CBO and review sessions for the community to share current budget and interim decisions.
The Moreland School District Board meeting agendas and minutes are posted online and locally at school sites. Meeting summaries are email blasted out to subscribers and community groups for their own communication vehicles.
Patch: How will you better involve the parent community?
Varich: The parent community is involved in Moreland schools as evidence from our high parent involvement at parent meetings, in classrooms as volunteers and our great test scores. MSD continues to be a student focused district and our parents and community tell us through surveys that they are happy with the work going on in the district. They continue to volunteer, fund-raise and participate in great numbers. Recent surveys parents have told us they want to receive push communication about what is going on and we have added twitter to meet the needs of the parents.
I am proud to have served the Moreland Community as a Board of Trustee member for 8+ years.
Patch: What do you think is your district's biggest challenge?
Varich: The state has cut our budget by 22.7% over the last three years. Everything we do goes up. The state has added more unfounded mandates. The state has provided flexibility that allows us to steal from known future need to pay just to get by now. Additionally they deferred 25% of funding to next year. Our board had the foresight to reserve beyond mandated reserve and are now using those reserves to meet obligations.
November election and budget has caused the state to withhold another 20+% in case prop 30 does not pass.
Do the math, our state leaders are holding the students of this state hostage and trying to make the voters make tough choices. Our board continues to listen to our districts stakeholders to do what they need. To their credit they are getting the job done!
For more of Patch's November 2012 Election Coverage, click here.