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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Election 2018: Emery School Board Candidate Susan Donaldson

School Board Election 2018
Candidate Questionnaire

The Tattler presents the 2018 Candidates Questionnaire; School Board edition.  Five candidates are running for three seats, making this a very consequential election that will constitute a majority on the five member Board.  The order of presentation for this series was chosen randomly.  Only one candidate's answers will be posted on a given day but regular Tattler stories might be interspersed in the sequence of candidates and there might be more than a day between candidate postings.
Readers may use the search bar to see the candidate's answers as they are posted by typing in 'School Board 2018 Candidates Questionnaire' or the candidate's name; Katy Brown, Ken Bukowski, Brynnda Collins, Susan Donaldson or Sarah Nguyen.
We thank all the candidates offering their services to the benefit of our school district, the parents and children.

The election is on November 6th.


Susan Donaldson
Mother/Business Owner

Name the top three problems with EUSD right now and what are your suggestions for how to deal with them?
Lack of stability - Unstable conditions that have lead to a cascade of problems: Low teacher morale, poor student achievement, poor community engagement, declining site maintenance to name a few.   The new leadership feels like it has made huge strides in stabilizing the district and hopefully a new board will be another step in the right direction. 
Lack of resources - We need to grow, sustain and align our resources to support the needs of our students.  Our schools need more money and Emeryville is a community rich with resources.  The board should absolutely advocate for, support and execute on fundraising for the our district.  There is nothing but opportunity for strengthening the relationships with donors and particularly businesses in our community and I think the board should take the lead on this.
Transparency, Engagement, Focus - What are we doing, where are we trying to go, how are we going to get there?  There has been so much confusion over the last few years and everyone involved in the district feels it.  Families leave the school, teachers leave, neighbors are confused about how the “Center for Community Life” serves them.  We all want clarity and to feel like we can finally move forward together toward a common goal.

How do we know if a school superintendent is doing a good job?  Is there any way to measure it?  Are there objective components?
I believe we will know if the superintendent is doing a good job by subjective and objective measures.  Teacher retention, test scores, growing enrollment - these objective measures are indicative of a superintendent that has created an atmosphere for success. Subjectively I think we will see a positive reflection in the community as well - from parent engagement to student and staff morale.  

Would you be willing to consider examining the idea of melding EUSD with Berkeley Unified if they would be amenable to that?  Why or why not.
I am always willing to consider an idea however it is my understanding is that this particular idea has been considered and rejected by Berkeley Unified and the community at large.  

EUSD has had the worst teacher retention record of any district in the Bay Area for at least four straight years.  Former superintendent Rubio said that was a feature of his tenure, not a bug….a sign he was doing his job.  Do you agree that was needed and if so, was Superintendent Rubio the right person for the job?
I do not think Rubio was the right Superintendent for us.  My impression is that strong teachers left and also that there has been an atmosphere of distrust and contention.  

Are you aware of EUSD’s academic ranking among Bay Area districts?  Has it been trending up or down? 
According to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, we have more lower performing students than the rest of the county.  We are consistently ranked lower than other students in the County and State and our performance has trended slightly down from 2016.    

Between parents, teachers or the administration (Superintendent, managers); who should play the leading role in general at EUSD and specifically in the formation of policy?  
The administration plays the leading role in the formation of policy: As leaders, they must be advocates for their stakeholders, and hear the ideas and concerns of the parents and teachers. The administration and staff work together to implement the policy day to day.  

When was the last time you voted?  How would you describe your political views? 
In the 2016 elections (my ballot wasn't counted in the primary this year due to a mail-in error).  I describe my political views as progressive.  

How do you feel about School Resource Officers at ECCL? 
I am not in support of SROs at ECCL.  I agree with Mayor John Bauters that in the United States, we have a problem putting children of color in a pipeline from school to prison and that SROs contribute to this problem.  

Have you ever attended a school board meeting in Emeryville? PTO meeting?  Met with district administration?  What involvement have you had with the school?  How familiar are you with its management?
I have been a very involved parent since my daughter began school in Kindergarten at Anna Yates in 2013.  I have been an active member of the PTO since then and became the Vice President and Secretary, serving for the past 3 years.  I have attended many board meetings as a representative of the PTO and also as a concerned parent.  I frequently meet with administration and teachers and would say that I am very familiar with the management of the school.   

How much money do you plan to spend on your campaign?  Do you plan to fundraise?
I plan on raising and spending under $2000 for my campaign.

What is your first goal (or goals) when you take office?  
Work with the school’s new leadership to refine the long-term vision of the district and set a clear path for helping our students achieve their highest potential.
Foster a functional, cooperative, board that ensures a positive climate and encourages the best from staff.

Fundraise in order to grow and sustain resources to meet the needs of the students, teachers and community.

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