Meet the Peoria Unified candidates: 4 are running for 2 opens spots

Children in the Peoria Unified School District line up for food. Their parents will be electing two school board members Nov. 6. in the general election. [Submitted photo]

By Philip Haldiman
Independent Newsmedia

The field of candidates for the Peoria Unified School District Governing Board is now crystal clear.

Four competitors will vie for two of five seats on the board in the Nov. 6 election. They include one incumbent, Beverly Pingerelli, and three others – Michael Gard, Davita Solter and Cory Underhill.

Incumbent Kathy Knecht, who has sat on the board for 12 years has thrown her hat into the ring for a seat in the Arizona Senate for Legislative District 21.

Peoria Unified is the fourth largest public school district in the state serving more than 37,000 students in 34 elementary schools, seven high schools and one non-traditional high school.

In the coming year, the new board will be making big decisions about the effects of a growing Northwest Valley, the future of the district and the search for a new superintendent, among others.

Get to know the four candidates here.

 

Michael Gard

Michael Gard
Age: 37

Education: Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in secondary education from Northern Arizona University, Master of Education in educational administration and supervision from Arizona State University, and Doctorate of Education in educational leadership and supervision from Arizona State University.

Political experience: No previous elected office

Job: High school assistant principal at a school in the Phoenix Union High School District

Years living in PUSD: 4.5

Family: Married to Melissa Gard who is a high school guidance counselor, two young daughters, the oldest is 7 years old and attends Peoria Traditional School, youngest 15 months old.

Question: Why did you decide to run for school board?

Answer: I made the decision to run for the school board because I felt as an educator and parent I could make insight on how to provide the best educational experience for our students, teachers and families. I have a vast amount of knowledge from my 13 years working in public education and I am prepared to make appropriate decisions on curriculum, finance and policy.

Q: What are your goals if elected?

A: If elected my goals include examining the various educational and career programs currently being offered in PUSD and see if we are maximizing our potential offerings. PUSD must continue to be competitive and provide opportunities for students to make sure they are successful and prepared for post-secondary education and the workforce.

Q: Arizona’s funding formula was developed 35 years ago – before home computers, cell phones, school choice, etc. Who would you bring to the table for conversations about revising the education funding formula to support the success of all students and ensure Arizona schools are providing a 21st century education?

A: I believe key stakeholders include our parents and student groups, certified and classified educators, administrators, elected officials and community members.  It’s important to gather input from all these various parties in order to develop long term solutions to our current funding crisis.

Q: Local bonds and overrides were created to allow school districts to request money above and beyond what is needed to operate successfully, yet many districts now rely on this funding for basic services. How would you ensure the state is doing its most important job of providing general and uniform funding for basic education services?

A: As a governing board member you need to be a voice for the students, teachers and the district. I would be prepared to have those conversation with our state level representatives and clearly layout the needs of the district. I would go into these conversations prepared with documentation and facts of how the decisions around school funding are impacting PUSD.  Providing student examples would be an important part of this presentation.  Putting a face to the students makes the decision makers understand the humanistic impact of their decisions and how it affects their constituents.

Q: Peoria is in the midst of a growth period. How would you work to make sure growth is addressed responsibly and in ways that will benefit the public school system.

A: As a Governing Board member I would be aware of the community and the future impact of the growth that is occurring. Many assume the growth is only in the northwest corner of Peoria which isn’t completely true. Peoria is seeing growth throughout the city with revitalization projects in some areas and new homes in others. As a board member I would ask the questions of the district and city to understand the growth and future projections. We can’t be reactive we need to be proactive and work with the district to have a plan in place for all growth potential. The last thing we want is our classrooms to be impacted because we are not prepared for the growth.

During the last year I have taken an active role in supporting growth in the PUSD by being a voice for the bond that is going to be on the November ballot. I attended the Citizens Advisory Bond Committee on multiple occasions and listened and occasionally voiced concerns with the discussions occurring. The outcome of the committee work initially included a bond package that did not include a new high school to address the growth in Peoria. I made this public to the community and we saw great concerns coming from community members. The district took note and administration added the construction of a new high school to the bond package approved by the current governing board in May. Now we all need to actively support the bond going to voters in November to help address growth. The 2018 bond would allocate $83 million specifically for addressing the needs of the current aging facilities throughout the district. Additionally Peoria is experiencing large amounts of growth with new home developments breaking ground within the district boundaries. This growth has resulted in higher class sizes and increased student enrollment. To address this need the district has allocated $79.8 million within the bond to build a new elementary school and high school.

Q: How would you ensure the good stewardship of public education dollars, regardless of where they are spent?

A: As an educator I have been directly responsible for managing funds directed for public education use. It is important to be accountable for the decisions that are made and make sure the funds are spent according to the directed outcome. I have a strong understanding of maintenance and operations funds, capital funds and title funds.  These all have vary different and unique descriptions that provide for targeted uses. Having this understanding, I can work with the district to make sure we make proper decisions around distribution of funds.

Q: In general, would you say the salaries that K-12 teachers receive in Arizona is too high, too low or just about right?

A: Salaries K-12 teachers receive in Arizona are far below what is appropriate for the work they are expected to do on a daily basis. Our teachers are responsible for educating the future leaders of our society. Shouldn’t those educators receive salaries that are aligned to their responsibilities? Some individuals against increased salaries try to make the argument that teachers only work nine months a year. These individuals must have never truly had a conversation with a teacher or worked in education. Most teachers work the majority of the summer “break” preparing curriculum and their classrooms for the next year. This is in addition to having to find a second or third job to adequately support their families. Arizona needs to stop settling for the bottom or near the bottom. It is time we make a philosophy change statewide and put a focus back on education and being a competitive state for education. Until then we are going to continue to see great teachers either leave Arizona to become educators elsewhere or leave the teaching profession completely.

Q: In order to attract new companies and jobs to Arizona we need both a talented workforce and a strong education system. Talk about the connection you see between early education, K-12 and higher education and where you see the greatest opportunity for change. What policies do you intend to pursue to help drive that change?

A: We need to connect with our business community and engage them through round table discussions to identify the expectations they have for current and future employees, which are our students. It is important to identify the current industry needs that employers are looking for so PUSD can provide the proper pathways to develop these future employees. Career and Technical Education programs would a great example of how we can develop programs to attract those businesses and connect our students to high paying career opportunities. There are many opportunities PUSD can provide to develop our students and make them ready for post-secondary opportunities at all levels. To help with this, PUSD needs to provide clear alignment throughout the curriculum as students progress through the districts grades and courses. This provides for a clear opportunity for continued student growth from early childhood education to the end of their high school career. Additionally, I feel there is an opportunity to connect with the colleges and universities in our surrounding communities and develop clear pathways for our students. We need to provide them with every opportunity possible and our post-secondary schools are always willing to help, we just need to take advantage of these relationships and expand on current opportunities and identify new opportunities that might benefit our students and their potential to become the future employees and leaders of our community.

 

Beverly Pingerelli

Beverly Pingerelli
Age: 57

Education: Bachelor of Science in biological sciences and American Society for Clinical Pathology Cytogenetics certification for laboratory personnel

Political experience: Peoria Unified School District Governing Board President 2017, Board Clerk 2015 and 2018.

Job: Works full-time employee at Grand Canyon University setting up undergraduate biology and chemistry laboratory classrooms, and part-time in the Molecular Medicine Laboratory at St. Joseph’s Hospital performing infectious disease testing

Years living in PUSD: 15

Family: Husband, Peter, married 30 years. Youngest daughter, Angela, is a senior at Grand Canyon University in hotel management and daughter, Kayla, graduated in 2017 from Oakland University in Michigan and is pursuing a theater career in New York City. Both attended PUSD schools, Desert Harbor Elementary and Centennial High School.

Question: Why did you decide to run again for Peoria Unified School Board?

Answer: I grew up just outside of Detroit in a low-income family neighborhood. I had support of a loving family, perseverance to learn and benefits of attending a public school just a few blocks from my childhood home. I was the first person in my immediate family to graduate high school and the only one to complete a college degree. I believe public education led me to a better pathway, and our district community reflects my past personal experiences.

I am rerunning for school board to continue my service to our community and help improve public education in Arizona. While our district has overcome challenges within the past few years, the need for strong, principled, unabashed leadership are vital to continue charting courses to academic and operational excellence. As a governing board member, I believe my votes have reflected these characteristics, and are based on data-driven analysis. I remain steadfast in supporting public education, and if reelected will continue making decisions which best serve all district stakeholders. My experiences have reminded me to lead by conviction and not just consensus.

Q: What are your goals if elected?

A: We live in an age where just about everything is measured, including our student performance on AzMERIT and Science AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards) state academic tests. Overall our district is performing at or slightly above the state average on AzMERIT, and I believe this simply is not good enough for a district our size, serving 35,000 students. And, while improvements have been made to our science curriculum, our district continues to witness declines in scientific literacy for graduating seniors according to AIMS. Certainly, multiple factors affect these scores, but I believe it is of overriding importance as a governing board member, we work intensely with district leadership, parents, teachers and students to identify areas to markedly improve academic performance for all students.

In the past, superintendents and governing boards from districts across our state have preached about high graduation rates, but we must honestly confront these academic performance issues in order to improve public education for students graduating from Arizona schools.

Q: Arizona’s funding formula was developed 35 years ago – before home computers, cell phones, school choice, etc. Who would you bring to the table for conversations about revising the education funding formula to support the success of all students and ensure Arizona schools are providing a 21st century education?

A: First, we must work collaboratively, be respectful of different viewpoints and pledge to be driven by what the data is telling us. Using these data and working with our Arizona legislature, regardless of party affiliation, is the correct first step. Too often, I’ve observed some legislators and community members — with opposing viewpoints – sincere about improving education but lacking details and understanding in order to make decisions regarding our state’s educational budget.

So how can a governing board member interject to improve this situation? I believe a respect, listen and learn attitude is needed by all, and isn’t this what we teach our students. We should also recognize and commend our governor and legislators for their progress in 2018.

More specifically, I believe reforms to our state laws governing education as well as provisions governing funding formulas are needed. Over the years, the state has created an exhaustive regulatory environment, which in my view, maximizes bureaucracy for our public-school districts, and does not necessarily improve transparency or accountability to the public. Moreover, charter schools are not weighted down by some of these requirements. And, while I support parental school choice, public school districts are disadvantaged by these burdensome regulations. Let’s begin by leveling the playing field.

Q: Local bonds and overrides were created to allow school districts to request money above and beyond what is needed to operate successfully, yet many districts now rely on this funding for basic services. How would you ensure the state is doing its most important job of providing general and uniform funding for basic education services?

A: This question further reflects my response on the need for state laws on education to be reformed. However, finding optimal and equitable formulas to properly fund basic operational costs will be challenging given the wide range of maintenance costs for schools built over multiple decades. The state has a finite budget, which per our state constitution, must be balanced for deficits. Hence, communities are asked to consider overrides and bonds.

I am pleased that our governing board voted unanimously to let district voters decide if they want to improve our schools. Given the age of a number of our southern schools, approval of the bond will cover these needed repairs. It was also great to see diversity within our 2018 bond committee unanimously agree to almost 3/4 of bond expenditures dedicated to these needs.

There is also the question of overcrowding in our northern schools. And while the committee was split in this decision, I believe a case was made to support the additional increasing bond request. I believe policy will help mitigate some of this northern school overcrowding, but there is an eventual need for a new facility. If elected as one of your next governing board members, I pledge to the community, I will rely on validated census reports and the district’s adherence to policy for out-of-district students before voting to release additional capital.

Q: Peoria is in the midst of a growth period. How would you work to make sure growth is addressed responsibly and in ways that will benefit the public school system?

A: Yes, Peoria is in the midst of growth, and given the geographical size of our school district, achieving optimal enrollment levels at neighborhood schools present challenges. For example, while there is increasing growth in the north, a number of the southern district schools are experiencing declining in-district student populations.

First, I believe better formal communication channels between our district and local municipalities regarding long-term urban planning, i.e., Glendale and Peoria, inclusive of the entire governing board body and district leadership would help to build needed collaboration and mutually shared challenges.

Additionally, the governing board must vote and hold administration accountable to policy regarding enrollment of out-of-district students. The overcrowding in our northern schools is unacceptable as are some of the badly needed maintenance issues in our southern schools. This has put undue burden on families, teachers with overcrowded classrooms, facility maintenance costs which all adversely affect the quality of education we deliver to our students. In my view, past administrators and even a few board members have been complicit in non-adherence to this policy. I’ve spoken with dozens of parents at all of our schools upset by these situations. We must do better!

Q: How would you ensure the good stewardship of public education dollars, regardless of where they are spent?

A: A governing board member has three primary areas of responsibility per our statutes, hiring a superintendent, district policy and approving budgets and expenditures. These responsibilities must be done while adhering to Arizona state statutes and school policy. Governing board members must be diligent in reviewing budget and policy issues, approving travel expenditures, and when the community entrusts us by voting yes for a school bond, it is incumbent upon a board member to ensure that the stipulated capital expenditures are prioritized to best benefit our students, teachers and staff.

This requires a significant amount of preparation time, prior to attending our regular board meetings. A board member must always act professionally, but also lead by conviction and have the courage to call out improper activities. We are obligated and entrusted by our constituents who elected us to this important office. During my tenure, at times, I have found it disappointing when a board member attends a meeting and unprepared to discuss these important issues and ask probing questions. This preparedness, in my view, is the best way a board member can serve the community, teachers, administrators, staff and students. If decisions are based only on achieving a comfortable consensus, then being a governing board member is not the right — unpaid — political aspiration.

Q: In general, would you say that the salaries that K-12 teachers receive in Arizona is too high, too low or just, about right?

A: I’m glad to see our average salaries for Arizona teachers have increased over the past few years. I remain optimistic with these increases that more individuals will consider pursuing teaching as a career choice. I also think it is important to reward our highly performing teachers, and given the shortage of specialized teachers in science, math and special education that  districts create competitive pay scales to attract teachers in high demand.

Q: In order to attract new companies and jobs to Arizona we need both a talented workforce and a strong education system. Talk about the connection you see between early education, K-12 and higher education and where you see the greatest opportunity for change. What policies do you intend to pursue to help drive that change?

A: Before policy considerations, I believe we must first consider such factors as parental/guardian responsibility, elements of the culture within our teaching professions and how to bridge communication gaps between primary, secondary and post-secondary educators. Too often I hear, college instructors teaching freshman blaming high school teachers for lack of student knowledge and concept skills. Similarly, I hear high school algebra instructors blame primary educators when students enter high school from district feeder schools unprepared. The blame game is not a pathway to a solution. So, what are possible steps we can take on which to lay a foundation for future policy?

First, I believe college instructors are often not adequately trained on the pedagogical practices of teaching, routinely and readily adapted in K-12 education. We need our university level subject matter experts to begin shifting their approach from traditional passive learning modes to more active learning approaches advocated in K–12 education. Second, we need high school teachers to reinforce subject matter expertise and innovations as an increasing part of their professional development practices. Third, we need to embrace career technical education as an alternate career pathway for students. The practicality and lower cost of achieving certification within career technical education programs in areas of coding, robotics, aviation, healthcare, personal care are increasing and vital for our future workforces. Many of these programs also benefit students that wish to pursue further postsecondary training.

I still believe the job of educating our preschoolers belongs to parents and guardians, instilling their customs, culture and values. As a board member, I continue to actively encourage parents to get more involved with their children’s day to day education and I would invite them to come to board meetings as often as possible.

 

Davita Solter

Davita Solter
Age: 60

Education: Bachelor of Science in education and Master in education administration, both at Northern Arizona University Political experience: City of Glendale Personnel Board 2016-present, chair 2017-present; city of Glendale Citizens Advisory Commission on Neighborhoods 2012-2014; and city of Glendale University Graduate, 2013

Job: Semi-retired, former principal at Centennial High school.

Years living in PUSD: 15

Family: Son Jeremy, graduate of Cactus High School

Question: Why did you decide to run for Peoria Unified school board?

Answer: Having worked in the Peoria Unified School District for 31 years before retiring in 2012, I felt I would be a good candidate for lending my voice to all patrons of the district. I have always had a heart for service to my community. This past spring, I realized that I needed to combine my passions of service and education to help the community understand our current educational climate.

Q: What are your goals if elected?

A: The areas of importance are working for all constituents: students, staff and community; safety; financial sustainability; student success; and community engagement. I also hope to work hand-in-hand with the other school board members to continue moving the school district forward under the leadership of Superintendent Linda Palles Thompson.

Q: Arizona’s funding formula was developed 35 years ago – before home computers, cell phones, school choice, etc. Who would you bring to the table for conversations about revising the education funding formula to support the success of all students and ensure Arizona schools are providing a 21st century education?

A: The funding formula definitely needs to be improved. Those who can help revise that formula are business CEOs, university administrators, military commanders, state legislators, Arizona Department of Education and district representatives. Input from all of these individuals and community constituents can guide the changes.

Q: Local bonds and overrides were created to allow school districts to request money above and beyond what is needed to operate successfully, yet many districts now rely on this funding for basic services. How would you ensure the state is doing its most important job of providing general and uniform funding for basic education services?

A: School districts must work together to let state legislators know the disrepair our schools are in without the proper funding. As an example of this, several school districts have banded together and are currently suing the state of Arizona for more funding, especially in building maintenance. It is important for us to develop relationships with local legislators so they can understand what is happening in our district. We cannot keep putting on a show that everything is fine. With continued conversations, we can work toward equality and equal distribution of funding and accountability of funds, especially in looking at the differences between traditional public schools and public charter schools.

Q: Peoria is in the midst of a growth period. How would you work to make sure growth is addressed responsibly and in ways that will benefit the public school system?

A: The PUSD Governing Board and administration have been dealing with the growth by proposing a bond election Nov. 6. Now, it is everyone’s job to make sure the bond is passed. The district must also be working with housing developers to share expenses for school land development. It should be their responsibility to add quality enhancements to these new communities.

Q: How would you ensure the good stewardship of public education dollars, regardless of where they are spent?

A: Having worked in the Peoria Unified School District as an administrator, my learning curve will not be as difficult as those who are new to the system. I am aware of how school funding works. It will be my role to help the school district stay within its policy, such as how much must be spent on salaries, benefits and building maintenance while also supporting ways to spend money wisely. The district needs to continue seeking funding through the Peoria Education Foundation and grant development.

Q: In general, would you say that the salaries that K-12 teachers receive in Arizona is too high, too low or just about right?

A: With the high costs of college education as well as post-degree classes toward continued certification, we must do all that we can to support the educators of our children. We must do whatever we can do to back our educators and helps us find those individuals who can be the best in our classrooms for the success of our students. Salaries must continue to grow and need to be commensurate with the professionals we hire to guide and educate our students.

Q: In order to attract new companies and jobs to Arizona we need both a talented workforce and a strong education system. Talk about the connection you see between early education, K-12 and higher education and where you see the greatest opportunity for change. What policies do you intend to pursue to help drive that change?

A: Children begin developing from the moment they are born. Not only do we have to provide early educational programs such as preschool and Head Start programs, but we need to teach parents how to help their children. Too many parents struggle to support their child’s education. Every parent wants the best for his or her child, but sometimes they don’t have the experiences to help their children be successful. Family educators at schools to assist the parents are necessary. All day kindergarten is a must. As a school district, we must continue to lobby the state legislature to keep the funding for this necessary program. At every grade level, our teachers and support staff must promote higher education. It is never too early to introduce and discuss goal setting with our students to show them what their future can be. The promotion of CTE and STEM (STEAM) programs are a must so students can explore their career opportunities. Higher learning establishments and military personnel have to be a part of this picture. We must welcome them to our campuses and have them be a part of program development. I think PUSD has been in the forefront of these partnerships from preschool to dual enrollment in our community colleges, so as a governing board member, I see my role to continue supporting what is already in place, while looking for ways to support innovation, development and longevity.

 

 

Cory Underhill

Cory Underhill
Age: 47

Education: Bachelor of Arts in psychology/elementary education, University of Colorado at Boulder; Master in nonprofit management, Regis University, Denver, Colorado

Political experience: none

Job: Taught third in PUSD for the past four years. District policy states candidates cannot run and be employed by the district. Runs a small consulting business that provides strategic planning, grant writing and other services for nonprofits.

Years living in PUSD: 12

Family: Married, two sons ages 13 and 16

Question: Why did you decide to run for Peoria Unified school board?

Answer: Education is my passion. Education represents the promise that individuals, regardless of background or circumstances, can acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue their dreams. I believe PUSD provides excellent educational opportunities for families throughout our district. My experience as a classroom teacher, parent, nonprofit leader, and small business owner, give me a broad perspective from which to view challenges and opportunities. My goal is to help ensure our strong and growing district can continue to offer the highest quality education to our students, thereby strengthening our neighborhoods, sustaining and enhancing property values, encouraging business development and building the overall competitiveness of our communities and state.

Q: What are your goals if elected?

A: My goals are to work collaboratively with parents, administrators, educators, and students to ensure PUSD continues to offer equitable access to a high-quality educational experience for all students by: One, improving our ability to attract and retain the highest quality teachers and support staff through competitive pay and benefits. Two, increasing resources and partnerships to support growth, modernization, safety and innovation through the arts, technology, Career Technical Education (CTE) and specialized programming. Three, enhancing consistency in student achievement by identifying and leveraging best practices. And four, rebuilding commitment to a shared vision among stakeholders that is driven by student needs, not politics.

Q: Arizona’s funding formula was developed 35 years ago – before home computers, cell phones, school choice, etc. Who would you bring to the table for conversations about revising the education funding formula to support the success of all students and ensure Arizona schools are providing a 21st century education?

A: We have extremely complicated and variable funding frameworks for schools throughout the state which have ultimately led to the shifting of the tax burden on to local property taxpayers and inequities between districts. School board members are the voices of citizens. They should be at the table along with state education leaders, business leaders, and professional district finance officers and administrators. These individuals understand the nuances and complexities of local district funding. We also need input from teachers about the state of current resources and what is needed for 21st century learning. The most important component for revising our formula is a long-term, forward-thinking investment plan for education funding in Arizona.

Q: Local bonds and overrides were created to allow school districts to request money above and beyond what is needed to operate successfully, yet many districts now rely on this funding for basic services. How would you ensure the state is doing its most important job of providing general and uniform funding for basic education services?

A: I believe we must hold the state of Arizona accountable to its constitutional obligation to ensure a general and uniform school system. One of the most important things I can do is support efforts to increase state funding for public education. We must educate and engage our parents, students and community members to utilize their voices to create the education system we want in Arizona. I will build partnerships and relationships locally and on a state level to support increased and sustained investment in public education by our state. I will also continue my work with the Peoria United Parent Council (PUPC), to provide information to parents about state funding and other legislative issues that impact PUSD students.

Q: Peoria is in the midst of a growth period. How would you work to make sure growth is addressed responsibly and in ways that will benefit the public school system?

A: PUSD has strong relationships with cities, businesses and faith-based organizations. I will work with district leaders, city council members and others, to sustain and develop strong, working partnerships within communities and a shared vision for the future of PUSD. Addressing growth will require significant input from all members of our community and I will work to ensure there are opportunities for input at key decision points. I hope that we can include student input — as students are a critical voice in determining our vision for the future.

Q: How would you ensure the good stewardship of public education dollars, regardless of where they are spent?

A: Good stewardship comes through having organization-wide, transparent processes for budgeting and expending funds. Individuals must have a thorough understanding of the district budget direction, priorities and vision. I value local control; I also value equity and integrity. Our stewardship of public dollars must address the strengths and needs of all our schools and students — so that students at every Peoria Unified school can access the highest quality education.

Q: In general, would you say that the salaries that K-12 teachers receive in Arizona is too high, too low or just about right?

A: Teacher salaries in Arizona are much too low. As a fourth-year teacher, who joined the teaching force with a master’s degree and 20 years of work under my belt, I know from experience. Teachers are charged with identifying and meeting the varying educational and social/emotional needs of 25-40 children in an average classroom. If we really want to be a state that values education, we must build the professional value of teaching as a career. While the intangible rewards of teaching are great, a critical component in attracting and retaining quality teachers is pay.

Q: In order to attract new companies and jobs to Arizona we need both a talented workforce and a strong education system. Talk about the connection you see between early education, K-12 and higher education and where you see the greatest opportunity for change. What policies do you intend to pursue to help drive that change?

A: PUSD has done an excellent job, with support from Arizona’s First Things First initiative, to provide highly rated community and developmental preschool options. I will continue to support providing and expanding these opportunities to families in PUSD. I would also explore a partnership with Head Start in our community.

There are many areas and policies that help make our district strong in K-12. Having numerous choices such as our science, arts, language immersion, and traditional school magnet programs help provide opportunities for students with diverse interests. Having a strong Career Technical Education program supports our students in developing interests and skills for lifetime careers.

Finally, keeping and developing linkages between our K-12 system and our university system is vitally important. We must establish meaningful dialogue with colleges and universities to ensure our students are well prepared to be successful when they enter. Students in PUSD have opportunities in high school to take electives in areas such as criminology, medicine, technology, foreign languages and others that develop career-transferable skills, and earn college credit. I would be interested in identifying opportunities for students and families to engage with university partners in middle school, thereby planting a seed for the possibilities of college early on.



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