News

LHCSD Candidates feel focus should be on kids

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

As the song goes, children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. These words can be considered when entering the voting booth this November. Four candidates are campaigning for two positions on the La Habra City School District’s Board of Trustees.

One incumbent, Susan Hango is seeking reelection, while current board president Paul Rodriguez is not returning. Three candidates look to challenge Hango and fill the vacant position. John Dobson, Kevin Jacobson and Liz Steves are all on the ballot. [Jacobson was not able to be reached by the time of publication.]

One of the major issues concerning whomever is elected to the board, is the challenges faced by uncertain budget cuts to education. Hango, a resident of La Habra for 48 years and board member for the last 29 years, stresses that the school board has always been vigilant when it comes to cuts.

“Two years ago we established a committee composed of staff, teachers, parents and community members who diligently compiled a comprehensive list of potential cuts to budgetary items,” Hango explained. “Many suggestions have been considered and implemented.”

Hango, who’s two daughters went through the schools in the district, sees the state budget situation as a continued concern for the LHCD board and cautions that changes might have to come.
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“La Habra City School District and many other districts in California are facing continued financial cuts in their budgets and may be forced to shorten the number of instructional school days,” she said.

Steves, who has children who are currently in the LHCSD, feels that working with the teachers regarding furlough days to spread the cuts around and minimize the impact on the classrooms. One thing she feels strongly about is only increasing class size as a last resort.

Dobson, a substitute teacher in the district for many years, would work with the district to pursue more grant money to offset the cuts and to maximize the available resources to the classrooms.

Another concern for the candidates are the state standardized test scores in the district.

Dobson, whose children have gone through the LHCSD, feels that districtwide changes should be made to work on increasing learning.

“I believe that there needs to be change in curriculum,” He said. “I’m not wild about project-based learning.” He said he feels you can overlook basic learning and facts supporting it.

Steves feels that communication between district, teachers and parents and a refinment of common, collaborative goals in planning curriculum changes should be emphasized. Hango too feels that communication is important, but so is emphasizing staff and utilizing data to develop curriculum.

“I believe in continuing to support our highly qualified teaching staff is very important to me,” she said. “As our technology has expanded teachers have increased ways to collect daily data on each student’s understanding and mastery of classroom subjects. The new Parent Portal increases communication between parents and teachers.”

Dobson and Steves also praised the hard-working staff and faculty in the district. Dobson added that he would work on building teacher morale across the district.

When it comes to district strengths, Steves and Hang cited the development of new programs, including the new academies at the two middle schools.

All candidates also cited the personnel in the district as one of its greatest strengths.

“There is a core of really good teachers and we need to help make them feel good about themselves,” Dobson said. “Hopefully, as money comes the district and work on getting some more really good talented teachers and staff to continue to grow.”

Hango added that “the District strength lies in dedicated Board members who support administrators, teachers and staff. We all believe how important it is to empower our students to become educated critical thinkers who will become positive citizens. We want them to be ready for their future in a global community.”

The election is set for November 6. All of candidates are running because they feel their service can help the district and the children of the LHCSD.

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Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.