Phillip Schiber, 66, Livingston, incumbent
What differentiates you from your opponents? Thirty-one years of educational experience in the Merced Union High School District allows me to help the board make informed, relevant decisions that will keep our district at the top in California.
What is your position on Prop. 58 and why? Prop. 58 is a bill I will support. I have spent many years working with teachers to improve teaching pedagogy that benefits our English learner population. Prop. 58 will add flexibility and empower administrators and teachers to include teaching practices in their classroom that work to move English learner students to be fluent bilingual speakers.
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What is the biggest issue that has faced the school board in the last year and what would you do, specifically, to address it? Adding CTE (career technical education) requirement/pathways in a sustainable way is our current most difficult task. I believe our district is moving in a very positive direction in regards to CTE. I am passionate about preparing students who are not college bound for the workforce, and CTE will do this. As a board member, I will work to support the district vision for CTE.
Julio Valadez, 44, Livingston, insurance agent
What differentiates you from your opponents? I am a parent who wants to be involved and bring back a common-sense approach on decision-making for what’s most beneficial to all students.
What is your position on Prop. 58 and why? I am against Prop. 58 as I witnessed firsthand with friends and family members not succeeding in the bilingual and/or English as a second language classes. Those types of classes group non-English-speaking students together where they continue talking to each other in their native language, thereby leading them to failure. In contrast, I have seen the current dual-language programs be more successful with family and friends who have enrolled their children in these programs. Children in these classes who start as Spanish-speaking-only and English-speaking-only have become proficient in both languages benefiting all students, not just Hispanics.
What is the biggest issue that has faced the school board in the last year and what would you do, specifically, to address it? To be sincere, I have not been in tune with the school board issues except for what I read in the paper. However, my vision is to have a college-preparedness course starting with the freshman year and continuing into the senior year. These courses would include applying for college as a graduation requirement and afford all students the opportunity to attend college if so desired.
John Medearis, 56, Merced, business analyst/software developer
What differentiates you from your opponents? I believe the experiences of being a founding member of a parent coalition in the Irvine School District and being a board member of a public schools foundation, along with my career management give me beneficial experience for this position.
What is your position on Prop. 58 and why? I support Proposition 58. The proposition requires involvement of this subject as part of the LCAP process and eliminates restrictions from Prop. 227 so that there are non-English options available. However, it does not eliminate the requirement that students have to become proficient in English, a key requirement to my support. If children in our community will benefit from non-English instruction in the early grades, then it should be an available option.
What is the biggest issue that has faced the school board in the last year and what would you do, specifically, to address it? I think an issue the school board has faced during the past year is a shortage of resources for CTE implementation. There is a need for teachers for CTE curriculum. Hiring new and developing existing teachers has been a challenge. I would like to work closely with all stakeholders to see if these ideas would create additional ways to meet our needs. Additionally, I would like to use my contacts and experience in the technology industry to help with other types of resources.
Marjorie Webster, 58, Merced, radiology technologist
What differentiates you from your opponents? I am serving on the Our Lady of Mercy school board as vice president. I’m also serving on the Diocese of Fresno Board of Catholic Education (this board serves from Kern County to Merced County). I have a child in a Merced high school. I have been living in the Merced area for 35 years. I also work in Merced.
What is your position on Prop. 58 and why? Yes on Prop. 58. After doing research, Prop. 58 fine-tunes Prop. 227 of 1998. There is little or no cost to the district. The proposition will help English learners to become fluent in the English language.
What is the biggest issue that has faced the school board in the last year and what would you do, specifically, to address it? One of biggest issues is CTE pathways (vocational education) to help students have a destination of either college or vocational education (career ready), giving students some ideas of what type of education and employment to pursue. I hopefully will be able to get the cooperation of the community and the school district implementing more pathways. Another issue of the board is conflict of interest. This has brought the wrong type of publicity. The district and board have had to spend far too much time with this issue, taking away from the students.