All candidates were given an opportunity to provide written answers to a set of questions provided by SMDP and two sets of answers will be printed each day. Answers are also available online alongside additional information from each candidate.

Throughout my time at SMMUSD, I was given extraordinary and richly diverse opportunities and experiences. I felt supported by the district, my teachers, fellow classmates, and the greater community of Malibu and Santa Monica. As a first generation American from a working-class family, a public school education has been a path to improve my socio-economic conditions.

Our Santa Monica and Malibu schools have always had a reputation for excellence, but we are facing a local and national crisis. An alarming number of students are moving away from public school to enroll into private schools, charters, or other homeschooling alternatives. We are seeing a significant decline in enrollment across all of our district schools. This exodus is happening in growing numbers and we are experiencing significant changes because of it. We need to start asking why this is happening and address a plan to counteract it. It’s time to listen to our students, teachers, parents and community members, and course correct before it’s too late. 

Measure R, the Parcel Tax,  passed overwhelmingly in 2008 and promised to  “protect smaller class sizes” and “retain highly qualified teachers.” Hundreds of studies, like the Tennessee STAR Study, have shown that class size is perhaps the most important determining factor to a student’s academic outcome and to decreasing the education gap. Smaller class sizes are the hallmark of a quality education and have been shown to increase achievement levels for all grade levels. The effects are even more powerful for students who experience racial and socio-economic disparity. Small class size is one of the most visible and equitable ways that we can serve all our students and teachers, and mitigate the decades-long achievement gap. Adopting smaller class sizes as a district standard K-12 would bring about immense benefits for the entire student population and provide lifelong benefits for the student, and in greater turn, our society.

​We have one of the wealthiest districts in the country, and the second most well-funded school district in Los Angeles County, yet academic outcomes are not representative of this fact. We need to curtail this disparity and systemically evaluate how district funds are spent. By reprioritizing our budgets, committing to the implementation of consistent systems, structures, processes we can achieve world class educational outcomes that are reflective of our district revenue. 

Recruiting, hiring and retaining well-qualified teachers is expensive, but together, we could build a budget from zero and prioritize quality education – and our students – above all else.  No nonsense choices would serve the entire student population: our most marginalized, high achieving, special needs, and everyone in-between. This might mean making painful decisions, like abandoning expenses that really haven’t been working for us and foregoing ‘ed tech’ fads and pricey consultants. To make meaningful and lasting change, we need to evaluate our bloated administrative costs, and take responsibility for why SMMUSD is involved in so many costly lawsuits.  

In order to realize the potential of our public schools, we need to change the way we do business at the expense of our kids. Our school district continues to fail to provide our students and teachers with safe, clean and comfortable learning environments, despite the $1.138 billion that has been paid by taxpayers since 2006.  We must put an end to vanity construction, unnecessary real estate transactions, and never-ending bonds.  Bond money could be utilized to rehabilitate and modernize our facilities without demolishing historic buildings.  The district has irresponsibly focused on new development at the expense of our students and teacher’s safety ignoring PCB’s in Malibu, and the water and mold at SMASH/John Muir. How many other buildings pose similar concerns from such negligent construction practices? The district continues to hemorrhage our bond money into extravagant building designs and future plans, instead of proactively maintaining our existing campuses.  The most recent example being the failed air conditioning in the new $195 million SAMOHI Discovery Building.

The generosity of our district’s voters and taxpayers is unparalleled. Our schools possess a rich and storied history of which the community and alumni are rightly proud. Our students are brimming with potential, ready to be the leaders and changemakers that our community is known for raising, and which our world so desperately needs. But to ensure that future for them we need to elect school board leaders with their eyes, minds and hearts laser-focused on the needs of our teachers, students and parents.

As your school board member, I will advocate for teachers, smaller class sizes, and urgently prioritize addressing learning loss, mental wellness and focus on upgrading our facilities so that they are functioning, comfortable, and safe for all. I will bring common sense priorities and invest everything I’ve got into ensuring that our schools are worthy of the students and teachers who fill them daily with dreams, curiosity, and promise for the future.