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 Andrew Thomas' 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?
In addition to hiring a new superintendent, negotiating a contract with UTLA, establishing a budget, and attending to the implementation of MISIS, we need to re-organize the school board member's office to connect more closely to schools, families and communities.
2. What qualities will you look for in hiring the next superintendent?
- Consensus builder
- Vision for improving common core instruction
- Vision for focusing on high needs schools
- Vision for bringing families back to their local public schools
- Vision for shared responsibility for student achievement between teachers, administrators and families, which should include information for families on school performance
3. Do you support charter school expansion?
State law governs charter school expansion. I support managed planning for new charter schools. It is one thing when charter schools emerge when educators and parents come together to meet a need in the community, but when charter management organizations are driving growth, we need to exercise caution. It is possible to solicit charter school applications if the district determines it has a special need. Existing charter schools should be integrated into the system to ensure transparency and equity.
4. Do you support the iPad program?
I support one-to-one computing, but iPads were not the right technology. Also, it was inappropriate to spend facilities bond money on consumable electronic products.
5. What priorities would you like to see reflected in next year's budget? Please be as specific as possible.
I support prioritizing schools using something like the Advancement Project's Aggregate School Needs Index, which lists the 100 highest needs schools in the district. I support teacher salary increases and strategic class size reduction. I believe we should continue to lobby Sacramento for a formula that allows duplicating counts for low income and English language learner students.