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.
This point is reaffirmed by niche.com, which rated AUSD in the top 1% in the nation for best school districts in America.
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.
Cheung said he wants to establish something similar to look into AUSD’s finances and see where adjustments can be made.
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.
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.