Three contested Los Angeles Unified School District board seats are up for a vote in the March 3 Los Angeles city primary election.
KPCC surveyed the candidates for their thoughts and priorities on key issues facing the district. Here are candidate Scott Mark Schmerelson's responses. (For information on other school board candidates as well as City Council candidates, visit KPCC's Los Angeles 2015 voter guide.)
1. What's the first issue you will tackle while in office?
Reducing class size is my first priority. My goal is to have our LAUSD students receive the best education possible. Last semester I was working as a retired administrator and retired Spanish teacher. I taught Spanish at Cleveland High School. My class enrollment was between 42-45 students. It was very difficult to get to to converse, interact and reach out to every student in that classroom. I could hardly move around the room myself. Students need to be able to form groups and move around during the class time for different activities. This was not possible and unfair to my students.
2. What qualities will you look for in hiring the next superintendent?
The next superintendent must be a good listener. Parents, teachers, staff, students and administrators all have important input for the selection of the superintendent. The candidate must have school experience and have a hands-on approach in managing the affairs of our school district.
He or she should have the important goal that all students receive the best education possible. The superintendent should always remember that the school site with its teachers, staff and administrators is the closest to the students. Every available dollar should be directed to the school site.
3. Do you support charter school expansion?
Charters schools are here to stay. Let's not fight them; let's embrace them. We have a lot to learn from charter schools and they too have a lot to learn from us. My goal is to build up our traditional public schools to the point that parents and students would have a difficult time in deciding between a charter and a traditional public school because the traditional public school would have so much more to offer. I feel that students who graduate from a traditional public school have the benefit of a real life experience and an education with all kinds of students who may be different from themselves. The traditional public school usually offers services that are not always available at a charter.
4. Do you support the iPad program?
Not when you are paying for them from LAUSD Bond Money! The taxpayers generously supported the bond issue with the belief that the money would be used to repair and modernize our schools. We must always keep our word with the taxpayers or they will no longer support the bond issues. I campaigned for BB bonds while principal of Lawrence MS in Chatsworth. The bonds were to be used to air condition our schools. This was done as promised and our taxpayers were happy to see that the promise was kept. As a board member I intend to protect the wishes of the taxpayer. Devices are needed and should be funded from other sources.
5. What priorities would you like to see reflected in next year's budget? Please be as specific as possible.
Discussion on how to allocate monies to reduce class size.
Discussion on how to re-allocate vital positions that have been taken away from our school sites. This includes classified positions such as custodians and office technicians as well as certificated positions such as counselors, nurses, attendance counselors and psychiatric social workers. Had we had not wasted millions and millions of dollars on child abuse payouts and a failed MySis system, we could have begun to re-allocate positions. More input from the school site and a superintendent who listened, could have saved the millions paid out unnecessarily.