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Election 2018: Meet the candidates for Ocean View School District board

Ocean View School District candidates, from left in each row: John Briscoe, Kate Holmes and Patricia Singer (top row); Jack Souders and Gracey Van Der Mark.
(Courtesy Photos)

Voters will select three candidates in November from a pool of five to serve four-year terms on the five-member Ocean View School District board of trustees.

Ocean View consists of two preschools, 11 elementary schools and four middle schools in Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Midway City and Westminster.

Trustees John Briscoe and Jack Souders are seeking reelection. Briscoe also is a candidate for the 47th Congressional District seat.

Trustee Patricia Singer, who was appointed, is seeking election to her seat.


The Daily Pilot sent a questionnaire to the candidates to get a better idea of who they are, why they’re running and what issues they feel are most pressing. Some responses have been edited for formatting, brevity or clarity.

Souders did not respond.

John Briscoe

Age: Did not answer

Professional occupation: Senior marketing and sales manager at corporations such as Kellogg/Keebler Inc., Kraft/General Foods Inc. and Hain-Celestial Inc.; licensed broker; small-business owner; marketing professor at Cal State Long Beach


Education: Master’s of business administration, Claremont Graduate University Peter Drucker School of Business; Master’s of public administration, Cal State Long Beach; Bachelor of Arts in psychology, Cal State Long Beach; Bachelor of Arts in speech communication, Cal State Long Beach

Time lived in the district: 30 years

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Huntington Harbour, eight years; Goldenwest Park, 22 years

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Ocean View School District board since 2006

Immediate family members: Wife Debbie, son Tyler

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the district and why?

1. I am proud to be the progenitor of our OVSD writing continuum comprehensive K-8 critical thinking curriculum. We start with universal upper-case block print letters in kindergarten, upper- and lower-case letters in first grade, combined with phonics reading decoding skills. Third grade instructs cursive in all classes to all students (per state law and standards), with required cursive work product in fourth and fifth grades. Fifth-grade families are encouraged to download OVSD free typing software at home to learn 35 wpm typing. Sixth-grade oral lecture Cornell note taking is taught with instructor grading to assure student skills acquisition.

2. Physical education is an important class with the same time allocation and earned-grade weight as all other classes. I am proud to have instigated the new OVSD middle school PE curriculum. Students measure their physical performance over the course of the year and not just on Physical Fitness Month like other districts. Children must learn responsibility for their physical health; with frequent performance measurement. They can see their own growth and development over time based on their efforts and activity.


3. OVSD has the most innovative magnet programs in Orange County. We have the STEM (science technology, engineering and math) program at Lake View, APA performing arts at Westmont, environmental at Golden View, where we have the only elementary active working farm in the county. Most prideful for me is our all-inclusive GATE-only student programs at the Circle View and Mesa View school sites. GATE students are enrolled in these turbocharged, demanding classes where college-bound children get their first exposure to high-performance, high-demand advanced education.

Kate Holmes

Age: 49

Professional occupation: Educator, instructional coach, cognitive coach, corporate trainer, nonprofit mentor

Education: Master’s degree in education, with teaching and principal certifications

Time lived in the district: Nine years

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: College View in Huntington Beach, nine years

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Teacher; Marina High School Viking Foundation; Marina High School hurdling track coach; Marina High School Site Council; Kindervision; EncoreOC; Huntington Beach Woman’s Club; Alliance for Diversity and Equity in Schools

Immediate family members: Spouse, three children


What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the district and why?

1. Achievement gap: There is a large student demographic that is living in poverty and is not progressing well academically. Supports in place at the elementary level with city and community engagement can improve student success and foster family involvement.

2. Data accountability: Eighth-graders need to be at or above grade level to successfully transition into high school. Bridge programs are in place and need to be utilized to address student deficits in math and reading. Assessment at a young age and multi-tiered intervention systems can support academic growth.

3. Academic, social and career skills: Creating successful programs that support equal and equitable access to educational opportunities. Districtwide opportunities for students not obstructed by where they live. Foster a vision of an educational career by building a pathway to college, vocational or combined certificate programs.

Patricia Singer

Age: 35

Professional occupation: Realtor for 15 years

Education: Orange Coast College

Time lived in the district: 12½ years

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Lake View in Huntington Beach, 12½ years

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Ocean View School District board since April; PTO for Lake View Elementary School; PTO/PTSO/PTA Ocean View School District Round Table; Ocean View School District Budget Advisory Committee

Immediate family members: Husband Danny, daughters Danielle and Gabrielle

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the district and why?

1. Safety: I’m proud to say I served as a member of the 2016-17 committee to update our volunteer policy to ensure the safety of all our students. It is essential for students to feel safe at their school site in order to be able to focus on reaching their learning potential. As a trustee, I was eager to vote in favor of our new Raptor visitor management system, which will provide reliable, instant screening using a visitor’s driver’s license or passport. All visitors will be checked against registered sex-offender databases in all 50 states. Of course, with the passage of Measure R, we will ensure all of our campuses will be fenced and secured with one-point entry systems.

2. Fiscal oversight: As a strong fiscal conservative, I want to continue to ensure we are spending and using all taxpayers funds wisely. I’m proud to say that as a district we are doing a great job staying on budget and cutting excess spending where needed without jeopardizing the quality of education and services provided to all of our students. The Orange County Department of Education has deemed the district’s budget as the highest rating of “certified.” Also, OVSD has been rated “Aa3” by Moody’s and “AA” by S&P, and Measure R projects are well underway.

3. Achieving maximum potential for all students: The Ocean View School District has great test scores that we can be proud of. We have grown tremendously and continue to grow each year. However, one of my goals along with our current board of trustees is that we continue to strive for higher-achieving results each year.

Jack Souders

Did not respond.

Gracey Van Der Mark

Age: 44

Professional occupation: Small-business owner

Education: College and entrepreneur experiences

Time lived in the district: 18 years

Neighborhood in which you live, and how long you’ve lived there: Ocean View School District, 18 years

Public service, activism and volunteerism: Huntington Beach Finance Committee; Ocean View School District Measure R Oversight Committee; Huntington Beach City School District Measure Q Oversight Committee; RexFest foundation; Marina High School wrestling team volunteer; Harbour View Elementary School PTSA; Marine View Middle School PTSA

Immediate family members: Married, seven children

What are the three issues you believe are the most important facing the district and why?

1. Continued low student test scores

2. Lack of transparency and community accountability

3. Deficit spending without accountability, including unfunded pension liabilities

Twitter: @vegapriscella