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Meet the Solana Beach School District candidates

File photo
(Staff photo)

Three candidates are vying for two available seats on the Solana Beach School District board this November. Incumbents Dana King and Julie Union are challenged by candidate Larry Rosen. Meet the candidates in their own words (in alphabetical order):
While her name appears on the ballot, Haidee Thesing has withdrawn her candidacy.

Dana King
(Courtesy)

Dana King
Twenty-year resident of Solana Beach with my wife Nancy, moving here specifically so our twins Ian and Sofia could be in SBSD’s marvelous public schools. Active community member in our children’s schools and the school district at large, in support of the many educational, social, athletic and extracurricular activities in which they participated.

Successful career of progressive responsibility in business development, most recently as a partner and founder of one of the nation’s leading environmental services firms. Educated entirely in public schools here in California, including a BA from UC Santa Barbara (Economics and Political Science 1977) and an MBA from UCLA (Anderson School of Management — Finance 1980).

I was appointed to the SBSD Board of Education in February, just prior to COVID-19 forcing such dramatic life-altering changes to our way of life and the delivery of public education.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the district and what do you hope to bring to the board?
Continuing the successful rollout of an entirely new delivery of public education that meets the demands of a pandemic. COVID-19 elevates one mission above all: ensuring the health and safety of students, teachers, staff and families in their learning environments.

We must now nurture two facets of public education. One is a crucial new remote learning platform – virtual classrooms for students and teachers unable to return to the physical classroom. With Online Scholars, District leadership and teachers have opened a remarkable new learning portal; all credit to these amazing professionals retooling amidst an educational crisis. We must continue supporting a remote learning option that will pay dividends forward; for example, offering students absent from campus a connection online with their cohorts.

Of course, students, families and teachers want desperately to return to in-person learning. Health and safety are the crux: reopening campuses with public health best practices and scientific guidance. Our Onsite Scholars program builds a safe foundation for students to be on campus for the long term. We’ve implemented thoughtful COVID-19 testing and safety protocols to minimize transmission. Reducing the risk of viral spread creates confidence and greater social/emotional wellbeing for all.

These are challenging pandemic times and we must prioritize health and safety. That is, of course, not all that SBSD is working on! The Board of Education concurrently oversees many other developments, including expansion of our amazing Social Emotional Learning program, reconstruction of Solana Vista’s new campus and other capital projects around the district.

In my tenure I’ve contributed to the consensus-building leadership and vision that SBSD naturally encourages. If elected I’ll continue to provide open communication, careful fiscal guidance, and heartfelt commitment to the wellbeing of all who enter SBSD’s physical and virtual portals. SBSD’s educational excellence continues as we’ve all come to expect.

Larry Rosen
(Courtesy)

Larry Rosen
Dr. Larry Rosen is Professor Emeritus and past chair of the psychology department at CSU, Dominguez Hills. He is a research psychologist with specialties in child development, parenting, multitasking, social networking, and neuropsychology, and is recognized as an international expert in the “Psychology of Technology.”

Over the past 35-plus years, Dr. Rosen and his colleagues have studied the impact of technology among more than 100,000 people. His latest book,The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World(MIT Press, 2016), won the PROSE Award for neuroscience in 2016. He has written six other books including one on parenting (“Me, MySpace and I: Parenting the Net Generation”) and one on the impact of technology on education (“Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn”). Dr. Rosen has been featured on 60 Minutes, The Daily Show, Good Morning America, NPR, and CNN. His website is DrLarryRosen.com

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the district and what do you hope to bring to the board?
Clearly the biggest issue is how to teach our children and protect our children and staff during this pandemic. There are many models of online, hybrid and in-person education and I believe that I can be the scientist who evaluates that literature and informs the board. I have taught online courses and hybrid courses and met with other colleagues who were doing the same. I have read the peer-reviewed literature on online teaching and it is not a simple decision of whether to return full time or adopt a different strategy and continually evaluate its success. I am a member of the national scientific advisory board of a nonprofit foundation called Children and Screens where we fund research, discuss best practices and use our power to influence political action where it is related to children.

My general plan for in-person education would be to first try in-person classes with each student attending in person, say, three days a week and learning at home the other two. After 14-21 days the education should be evaluated as well as the safety of our children, teaching and administration. My plan for at home schooling is to ensure that each student is taught in a way that promotes learning but does not put undue pressure on the students or their parents. This pandemic is not going away any time soon and we need to use solid peer-reviewed research to inform our decisions.

Julie Union
Julie Union
(Courtesy)

Julie Union
It has been an honor serving as a school board member for the Solana Beach School District. Throughout my tenure I have proactively looked for ways to advocate for students and build community connections. I have served as a San Diego County school board delegate and created the Facebook page “Parent Education Connection.” As board president, I started a School Board Book Club for local districts to share best practices and helped launch Gr8fulConnections.com, a North County PTA project to support families.

I have a multifaceted background as a businesswoman, an educational researcher, a substitute teacher, PTA President, and a caring community volunteer. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from San Diego State University and completed the “Masters in Governance” California School Board program. My husband and I have 3 daughters that have graduated from SBSD schools.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing the district and what do you hope to bring to the board?
The biggest issue facing the district is the COVID-19 pandemic. Like schools all over the country and world, SBSD has had to completely redesign the educational experience in a very short period of time. I have the utmost respect and admiration for SBSD’s leadership, teachers, staff, and parents for the tremendous work that has taken place in offices, school rooms, and in homes since March.

With this current situation we have had to create extensive financial plans and are able to weather the storm. Social-emotional and academic support will continue to be a high focus including working with external partners such as Casa de Amistad and the Boys and Girls Club who are also supporting students. Additionally, our board is creating a plan in order to increase the number of days students come to campus, with the continuation of health and safety as our top priority.

The Solana Beach School District has a long tradition of providing an exemplary education for every child. With our innovative STREAM programs, Measure JJ reconstruction and modernization projects, nutrition program, and many new initiatives, we continue to forge ahead on a positive and productive path. I am running for reelection to continue working on our goals.

Serving as a school board member for the last 8 years and as a PTA leader for over 15 years in the community, provides me insight into the tremendous effect a cohesive, focused, and dedicated group of educators and parents can have on the life of a child, a school, and a district. I bring experienced school board leadership to the board and I humbly ask for your vote to continue the important work ahead.


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