On November 3, 2020, there will be an election to fill the two vacant seats formerly held by Andrew Blumenfeld and Brent Kuszyk on the LCUSD Board of Education. Four candidates will be running for the two empty Governing Board seats: Caroline Anderson, Jeremiah Arnold, Josh Epstein, and Belinda Randolph.
Below are Mr. Arnold’s responses to our questions.
Note: Some responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
What makes you unique?
I didn’t grow up in La Cañada, which gives me a deep appreciation for this community that was built around our schools. As a youth, home was in the Crenshaw District which is located in the inner city, South Los Angeles. I recognize I’m an unexpected candidate, not having followed the “establishment path” to the School Board. I view this as a positive – life experience has provided me with a different perspective and strong motivation to be present for my children and others. Not surprisingly, I am a dedicated volunteer at my children’s school, La Cañada Elementary. This level of involvement on the macro level includes planning for the future of the school by being selected as a parent representative on interview panels, serving 6 years on the LCAP committee, and fundraising through serving as the Chair of the Set-Up committee for Halloween Haunt. On the micro level, boots on the ground assistance has taken the form of helping teachers in the classroom by purchasing supplies and books, assisting with projects and installing bulletin boards, as well as being a trusted chaperone during off-campus field trips. I have very relevant professional experience in technology, finance, project management and communication and I hope to offer it as a useful asset to the Governing Board. I am ready for an expanded volunteer role serving our greater student population, district and community.
How are your plans different from those of the other Governing Board candidates?
While all governing board candidates want a diverse and inclusive learning environment, I differ from the other candidates on the position of providing equality of opportunity, versus controlling outcomes (“equitable outcomes”). Additionally, I do not see myself as more of the same. I believe that there needs to be more transparency surrounding long term goals for the district and an opportunity for all voices to be heard.
Why do you want to be part of the Governing Board?
My unique combination of personal and professional experience translates well to the current needs of our school district. My 15-year career in technology and what I did specifically during that time correlates very well to what current and post-pandemic learning will likely resemble. My experience acquiring and developing real estate and managing the building and associated budgets of the various projects allows me to offer guidance and experience as it relates to the District’s upcoming building and renovation projects. Additionally, fiscal conservancy is going to be paramount this year and in the coming years as public school districts receive the burden of the state financial crises in the form of greatly reduced funding. It will no longer be enough to “do more with less” and creative solutions and difficult decisions will be required. I want to have a seat at the Governing Board table when these decisions are occurring and offer my voice to the community to ensure everyone is heard throughout the process.
If you had to summarize your campaign into three main ideas or words, what ideas or words would you use?
My campaign statement is simple. Investing in our Future. Honoring our Legacy. Behind that is my platform which consists of many topics but three to highlight are:
- Return to in-person learning.
- Dealing with our upcoming fiscal challenges.
- Ensuring our students a safe and secure learning environment (physically and emotionally).
What are your thoughts on reopening?
I want our students to return to the classrooms and in-person learning as soon as it is safely possible.
How can LCUSD improve DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion)?
Great Schools, an independent non-profit which is a trusted source for school ratings and information, rates LCUSD and all our schools within the district a 10/10 in equity. I believe our district is on the right path. We enjoy a diverse community and student population. In fact, over 80% of students report that they feel understood and supported in their learning environment. There is always room for improvement but I think we should pause and recognize what LCUSD is already doing right. LCUSD was early to partner with Stanford’s Challenge Success program and is relatively unique in offering a Wellness Center on campus to support the whole student, not just in academics but also in emotional success.
From your perspective, what has the current Governing Board done well?
The current board appears to be well-aligned with district leadership and the teachers’ association.
What aspects of the current Governing Board need to be improved? How would you improve these aspects?
Communication between the board and the community it serves could be improved, especially from a transparency perspective. I would like to see more diversity of thought publicized from the Governing Board so that the community is aware that various perspectives are being represented during the decision making and voting process.
If students could vote in the upcoming elections, why should they vote for you?
If students could vote, I would encourage them to vote for me because I will ask the difficult questions and have uncomfortable conversations on their behalf. I will advocate for all kids TK-12.
For more information on Mr. Arnold, visit arnold4lcusd.com.