Interview with Randy Walton candidate for San Marcos School Board
We sent San Marcos School Board candidate Randy Walton a few SEH relevant interview questions.
What suggestions do you have about school drop off traffic and its impact on some neighborhoods in San Elijo Hills?
With the loss of busing at the middle school, there was a concern that the town square would be gridlock this year. In response, I think the district, and the schools themselves, have done an excellent job lessening those impact of no busing by staggering the start times, redesigning the traffic circulation, and providing staff and volunteers to direct traffic. Plus, many middle school parents from over the hill are participating in a carpool, which has helped as well, and is something I encourage. As a district, we should continually be evaluating our circulation plan for both efficiency and safety, and make adjustments accordingly.
Is the current system perfect? No. But as a neighbor, and a parent who drops off children at both schools, the inconveniences have been relatively minor.
How can San Elijo Hills schools plan for the 300-400 more homes to be eventually built?
I am concerned about the overcrowding of all of the schools in the district, and San Elijo Elementary School is one of those that causes me particular concern. Walk through any San Elijo Hills neighborhood today and you’ll see scores of children of a pre-kindergarten age, who soon will be filling classrooms at the elementary school. And this is before the build out of San Elijo Hills.
The remedy to this concern will be provided by the district, not the schools themselves. In the short-term, another boundary adjustment may be required. In the long-term, there is no doubt that an additional elementary school will be needed to handle the growth in the district.
Could San Marcos School District build another school as originally envisioned in San Elijo Hills to help with crowding?
The building of an additional school in San Elijo Hills is unlikely due to the cost and availability of land. It’s also not entirely clear that San Elijo Hills needs a second elementary school. As I stated above, it is very likely that an additional elementary school will be needed to accommodate growth, particularly on the south side of San Marcos, where more houses are slated to be built in the coming years.
The district must work closely with the cities of San Marcos and Carlsbad, and prospective residential developers, to identify potential school sites, and must insist that new residential developments are not approved until there is a viable plan to address the potential impacts of those new residents on our schools.
With the economic crisis further impacting the California budget how can San Marcos School District keep its budget in line and survive the crisis.
Restraint. Like every public school district in the state, SMUSD has been forced to deal with a mess not of its own making. By order of the state, SMUSD was forced to make a number of cuts this year. While I am not a member of the board, I generally agreed with its approach to the recent budget cuts. That is, when possible, keep the budget cuts as far away from the classroom as possible. As a board member, I will be guided by a similar principle: every budgetary decision must be viewed from the perspective of the child in the classroom, and how that decision will impact the educational growth of that child.
How can more of our tax dollars make it in the class rooms?
In my campaign, I have visited every school in our district, and have sat down with every principal to discuss their schools, their personal goals, and the direction they would like to see the district go. I have also visited almost 100 classrooms, from kindergarten through 12th grade, and I have witnesses firsthand our teachers and students in action (I have blogged about my visits at www.randywalton.org).
The greatest gift we can give students in our district is a dedicated, well-trained, and effective teacher in the classroom, a proven curriculum, and a principal who has the time and desire to work with teachers to accomplish academic goals. In my opinion, that is the recipe for success, and any expenditure of taxpayer dollars that contributes to that winning formula, whether it’s for teacher support, technologies, or supplies, are tax dollars making it into the classroom. All budgetary decisions must be made with this in mind.
What are your goals for your term?
It is my priority to continue the academic strides that all of our schools have been making over the last several years. Our high schools and middle schools all made tremendous gains in the API scores, but I know they can do better. I would like to see our high schools break the 800 barrier in overall API scores, which I am confident can happen in the next few years.
I also want to see the implementation of a school modernization plan, to accommodate growth and technology. Several schools in the district, most prominently San Marcos High School, are in need of remodel or upgrade, and that is something that I would like to see happen as quickly as feasible.
I would also like to see a financial literacy course become part of the high school curriculum. Before graduation, all students should have an understanding of basic economics and personal finance, including the risks and benefits of credit and debt.
The continued development of the PACE Promise is also something I feel strongly about. This new district program, which is expected to launch this year, guarantees admission to Cal State San Marcos to qualifying graduates of San Marcos or Mission Hill high schools, and will provide some level of financial support. I think the PACE Promise, which received a $6 million grant last year, could transform our community, and I’d like to see it successfully implemented and then expanded.
What can San Elijo Hills parents do to make the city of San Marcos and the San Elijo Hills area one of the best for education in the state?
We are lucky to live in San Marcos. With our growing school district, the growth of CSUSM, the presence of Palomar College, High Tech High, and several private schools, San Marcos is quickly getting the reputation as the city of education. That’s a good thing. I know that city leaders hope to capitalize on these assets with some really great forward-thinking developments currently being planned.
San Elijo students at both the elementary and middle school are blessed with active and involved parents. The best way for San Elijo parents to make our area one of the best for education in the state is to spread the positive news about all the successes in the district, and all the great things that are happening in the City of San Marcos.
Editors note all San Marco candidates are welcome to contact us to conduct an interview.