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School Board Candidates Agree Funding is Biggest Problem for AUSD

AUSD candidates

AUSD 2020 Schoolboard candidates (left to right) Shirley Yee, Cung Nguyen, Kay Kinsler, Raymond Cheung, Roshan Akula. – Photo by Galen Patterson / Beacon Media News

Candidates offer different ways of tackling the same issue.

By Galen Patterson

The Arcadia Unified School District (AUSD) debate happened on Wednesday evening.

Five candidates are competing for three open seats and all candidates sat on a panel as they were asked the same questions and each given fair chances to respond.

All candidates agreed that the greatest problem facing AUSD in the future is funding, and many of the candidates suggested lobbying at the local and state levels to gain more funding for education, because California’s education funding per pupil is below the national average.

Incumbent candidate Kay Kinsler says 85% of the AUSD’s funding currently goes to staffing, a fact that incumbent candidate Cung Nguyen affirmed with his explanation of AUSD recruiting the most talented teachers available to give the children the best education the district can.

AUSD candidates

Incumbent candidate and AUSD Vice President Kay Kinsler. – Photo by Galen Patterson / Beacon Media News

This point is reaffirmed by niche.com, which rated AUSD in the top 1% in the nation for best school districts in America.

AUSD candidates

Civil engineer and incumbent candidate Cong Nguyen. – Photo by Galen Patterson / Beacon Media News

However, as Kinsler pointed out, with 85% of funding being tied up in staff, there is little or no room to cut from anywhere else, meaning the city needs more funding for education.

Candidate Raymond Cheung’s plan for dealing with funding mirrors that of the Arcadia’s Citizen Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC) in 2018. CFAC was commissioned by the City Council to evaluate the expenditures of the city and develop a plan to overcome the severe budget gap Arcadia was facing. Out of CFAC’s plan came Measure A, the ¾-cent sales tax Arcadians voted on to help spread the cost of revenue gain out to the county.

AUSD candidates

U.S. Marine Corps veteran and candidate Raymond Cheung. – Photo by Galen Patterson / Beacon Media News

Cheung said he wants to establish something similar to look into AUSD’s finances and see where adjustments can be made.

AUSD candidates

Special Education Aide and candidate Roshan Akula. – Photo be Galen Patterson / Beacon Media News

Candidate Roshan Akula’s plan is to set up delegations at the local and state level to lobby more intensively, while Candidate Shirley Yee thinks keeping a closer eye on our state assemblymembers will eventually lead to the increase in funding AUSD needs.

candidates AUSD

Two-school PTA President and candidate Shirley Yee. – Photo by Galen Patterson / Beacon Media News

While many of the candidates seem to agree that Measure A was a step in the right direction for the city, it will not be enough for the future of the city’s education.

Most interestingly, unlike the Democratic Presidential Debate happening simultaneously in Las Vegas, AUSD board candidates politely stated their views and plans with respect to each other.

Candidates were asked several other questions like what they view the role of the school board to be and what they view as the school board’s greatest asset — each garnered unique responses from unique candidates with varied backgrounds.

Voting for the school board will be on March 3, 2020.

February 20, 2020

About Author

Galen Patterson


4 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “School Board Candidates Agree Funding is Biggest Problem for AUSD”

  1. Kathy Patterson says:

    Although school board is a non-partisan race, it would be helpful to voters to know the party registration of each candidate.

    • Why is party affiliation helpful to you in making a decision for AUSD decision?
      For me political party affiliation is irrelevant to a candidate’s ideas, character & values I look for diversity of life experiences & training, listening skills and how far volunteer outreach goes beyond one’s home and into the greater city. Although we are seen as affluent, we have a growing number of students of low or lower middle economic class . How many are homeless or living in cars or garages? Students need to build kites and fly them together on windy days as well as learn in class & on the sports field.
      One thing absent from the AUSD Candidate was the mention of a position on Prop 13
      on the ballot. If it passes, cities benefitting would have to repay funding used for our
      schools. No mention was made in the Voter Guide of the cap on local debt limits. That
      absence means there is NO cap on how much further debt this city would accrue in
      if Prop 13 is passed.

    • Why is party affiliation helpful to you in making a decision for an AUSD Board Candidate? For me political party affiliation is irrelevant to a candidate’s ideas, character & values. I look for diversity of life experiences & training that could
      enhance the AUSD. How far volunteer outreach goes beyond one’s home and into the greater city is key. Although we are seen as affluent, we have a growing number of students of low or lower middle economic class . Students need to build kites and fly them together on windy days as well as learn together in class & on the sports field.
      One thing absent from the AUSD Candidate Forum was the mention of a position on Prop 13 on the ballot. If it passes, cities benefitting would have to repay funding used for our schools. No mention was made in the Voter Guide of the cap on local debt limits. That absence means there is NO cap on how much further debt this city would accrue in if Prop 13 is passed. I will be voting no on Prop 13 for that reason.

  2. Caroline Blake says:

    Why was there no discussion of Prop 13 during the Forum ? When funding was mentioned
    as a major concern the avoidance looks evasive and a touchy subject. The City must match
    any incoming Prop 13 funds with equivalent funding from parcel taxes and there is NO
    cap on local debt limits. Otherwise, the Candidates Forum was worth watching …an A- grade !

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