Meet the 2020 RJUHSD board candidates

Editor’s Note: The remainder of the RJUHSD board candidate profiles are still in progress and will be updated shortly. Please refer to Voters Edge as we continue to update this article with the three remaining candidates.

Gregory Burnis Harnage Jr.

What is your motive for running?

I am running for the school board as I want to give back to the community and education system that I am a product of. Additionally, I think having a trustee who graduated from the district can help the board understand the issues and concerns our students face. Finally, I am running to ensure that all students feel safe and respected on our campuses.

How well do you feel the current board handled opening school back up during COVID?

As they say, hindsight is 2020, and I definitely think there was a breakdown in communication with the rollout of the phases and the plans and things like that … I think overall the board has definitely heard from the parents, and of course (most likely) students as well, and I know they’re in a tough spot between safely reopening (and) having the proper teaching staff that are there … But I think overall transparency could have been better with the process.

What is your vision for the district?

I would say definitely my vision would be to … in one part go backwards but in more parts go forwards. To elaborate … I graduated from Oakmont in 2008. From 2004-2008 when I was there we had a lot more opportunities for CTE programs as well as different drama, arts, performing arts, things like that were much more robust — then of course the economic downturn came and what people might deem as specialized programs were essentially cut and are slowly coming back, but are not coming back to the way they should. One thing I would definitely do if I’m elected would be to work with our community partners as well as the district itself to figure out what sort of current technical education programs can we bring back or that are currently here but make them more robust …  But moving forward, one of the things I really would like to do is  … (diversify) the curriculum (and) … also (make) sure that the students actually feel welcomed and safe and campus. I’ve been reading student testimonials from (Diversify your Narrative) and seeing how many students are actually still struggling in the 21st century … A student should feel comfortable, as long as they’re not violating any sort of policy, … to say what they want to say, represent themselves in their true form, whatever that form is, so that way they are comfortable and they don’t feel bullied or picked on by other students. 

What connection do you have to RJUHSD?

(I was) born and raised in Roseville. I went to Crestmont and Ike for K-8 and then Oakmont for high school. I currently work at Sierra College in the admission and records office, where I work very closely with our high school partners for academic enrichment and dual enrollment courses so in my day-to-day job I work very closely with our high schools. Currently, I am the chair of the Measure D oversight committee … I’ve been chair for two years, and prior to that I was vice chair since it was formed in 2017. 

Is previous experience education necessary to be an effective board member? 

Yes, absolutely and I don’t think that limits to simply being a student, obviously we all were students at some point, but having an understanding of how an educational institution runs … we have our education code and then we have the various titles that stipulate what can and can’t be done, how you’re funded, your categoricals, things like that … I think that’s definitely something that needs to really almost be a requirement. You need to have some sort of real understanding of how things work.

What experience do you have in education?

I currently work at Sierra College in the admission and records office, where I work very closely with our high school partners for academic enrichment and dual enrollment courses so in my day-to-day job I work very closely with our high schools. Currently, I am the chair of the Measure D oversight committee.

What changes would you like to apply to the school district?

That could be a long list. I think one change that is definitely going to be occurring here in the next few years, and it’s always something that comes up every few years or so, is the attendance boundaries … When I was at Oakmont, we didn’t have Antelope high school. I recall many of my friends would have to get up at five, five-thirty in the morning to get on a bus and go all the way across town just to get to school, and if they did sports or any sort of after-school activities, they wouldn’t get home some nights until six or seven o’clock at night. That’s not good for a student’s wellbeing, psyche, et cetera, so we really need to look at as the district develops further west, what can we do to make sure we’re minimizing the amount of time it takes a student to get to high school. Of course, there’s going to be some areas were we can’t avoid it, but we need to make sure we minimize it as much as possible, not only for the student’s well being but also in terms of other aspects such as the educational opportunities that we offer at each school — because if we see a large decrease in, say, students at Granite Bay or Oakmont, does that then mean that the IB program could take a hit or one of them might have to close, for example. Does that then mean that some of our schools for sports go from division one to division two, or division two to division three, and how does that impact the sports opportunities? 

What job field are you currently in?

I currently work at Sierra College in the admission and records office, where I work very closely with our high school partners for academic enrichment and dual enrollment courses so in my day-to-day job I work very closely with our high schools.

 

Heidi Hall

What is your motive for running?

I have a passion for education and want to help make a difference in our community. Kids are the future and I feel they deserve the best education possible. 

How well do you feel the current board handled opening school back up during COVID? 

As of writing this response, the schools are still not opened up … We are seeing successful school openings all over the country, so it’s not a matter of if it can be done. It’s a matter of doing it and doing it safely and soon. Each day that goes by the socio-economic and educational divide grows larger and larger. Not to mention the depression and isolation. 

What is your vision for the district? 

I would love to see a district with increased communication, common goals and the best interest of the students in mind. We need to set all politics aside and do what is essential for our children. 

What connection do you have to RJUHSD?

My oldest son will enter Roseville High School next year, and my middle and younger son will enter within the four years of my term. I have been a guest speaker at Granite Bay high school on occasion and absolutely love your campus. 

What experience do you have in education?

My mom was a special education teacher for 40 plus years, so I had the opportunity to really see and understand what goes on in a school setting, and understand the value of education. I attended the school where she worked in Stockton, CA. My brother and his wife are also teachers, so education to me is essential. 

Is previous experience education necessary to be an effective board member? 

I think anyone who has gone through the public school system, applied for and/or attended college and/or has school-aged children of their own will have a good grasp on the educational system … My personal experience in consensus building, communication and problem solving will be important skills to bring to the school board.  

Did your children have any influence on your decision to run?

Definitely, yes. My children are my number one priority and education is paramount in their ability to succeed as adults. I grew up in a bi-racial home, had 8 foster brothers and sisters and saw first hand how important school and those skills and relationships that come from school truly are. The social injustice that’s being experienced right now by denying education to our community is disheartening, not just for my own children, but for every single student that is missing out on so much. 

What changes would you like to apply to the school district?

I think an issue we need improvement on is communication … With things rapidly changing and evolving, there has to be a streamlined way to communicate the decisions that are being made. There also has to be a more efficient way to gather data from our families … We need to find out exactly what would be required to get our students back to school full time … Until we better understand why parents are choosing what they are choosing, we will continue to struggle with future planning. 

What job field are you in currently?

 I am a health educator. I work with people of all ages in the area of nutrition, wellness and fitness. I do both employee and corporate wellness for large companies, all the way down to private consulting for individuals or families. 

 

Bryan Richter

What is your motive for running?

I am running for the RJUHSD school board for the first time.  I have been involved with the school board as a parent attending the meetings for over 2.5 years now – for most of that time the only member of the public present.

How well do you feel the current board handled opening school back up during COVID?

The current board has handled this brand new to everyone experience as well as can be expected.  With outside agencies in ultimate control of when and how schools reopen, there is little to do except follow the guidelines given to us – from the county health officers.  Keep in mind that RJUHSD has to be attentive to 2 counties and we have students living in Sac and attending in Placer.  At last night’s board meeting they showed the numbers of students (most likely parents) choosing to send their kids back to school in this hybrid approach.  The numbers showed roughly that each school site (for the comprehensive high schools) only had about 40% of the students back on campus, with that 40% divided between the A days and B days.  Parents and students are obviously still concerned about how this is going and we all need to be patient and tolerant.

What is your vision for the district?

I am looking forward, post COVID19, and I want a district with more options for students.  That is why I want to keep online/distance learning as an option for students.  That is why I am a huge proponent of dual enrollment (you take a college class and get both college credit and high school credit).  IB and AP are the old way to college credit in high school; you take a class, you pay to take a test, and maybe you get college credit.  Dual enrollment you take a class and get both, no test, no maybes; you pass the class you got the credit.  In my mind, this could lead to graduates of our high school’s leaving us with both AA degrees and HS diplomas.  This makes RJUHSD more accessible and much more inclusive, because now you have removed test with known bias, like the SAT.  We have expanded our offering of dual enrollment classes from 1, two and a half years ago to 16 and we are growing it.  I know it will open a lot of doors.  Which ultimately comes back to options for students.

What connection do you have to RJUHSD?

I am connected to RJUHSD, because I live in Antelope and I have one graduate from Antelope High School, one Junior there, and one of next year’s Freshman.

What experience do you have in education? Is previous experience in education necessary to be an effective board member?

I was at one time a substitute teacher.  I was the Database Manager for the Grant Joint Union HSD; they are now a part of Twin Rivers.  I spent 5 years working for the California Dept of Education, School Facilities Planning Division (they review school building plans for educational appropriateness and safety).  I am a parent and have been in three schools districts in that capacity.  It takes different perspectives to get good governance, having all teachers or all parents or all of any single group as our board could be devastating.  We need all the different view points to make the best decisions.

Did your children have any influence on your decision to run?

Yes my kids had an impact.  Seeing issues that needed to be resolved and knowing those issues could impact my kids got me started moving the crosswalk at Antelope High School – I spent about a year getting that crosswalk moved to better align with the sidewalks around campus parking and the expressed flows of students from the street to classrooms.  Does this mean I would have done nothing about the crosswalk issue if I did not have children, no – my kids just made it more personal for me.

What changes would you like to apply?

Changes I want, well I mentioned my highest priorities before, options for students to improve equity, access, opportunity.  Dual enrollment and online learning to give students more options.

What job field are you in currently?

I currently am a software developer and database administrator.

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