Betsy Jenkins sees her candidacy for one of the seats on the
Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education as a logical
next step in her career as a parent volunteer.
She feels that her work, ranging from working with students and
teachers in the classroom to serving as President at Top of the World
Elementary School as well as on the Citizens' Oversight Committee,
has given her the broad perspective necessary to be a member of the
"I've kept my finger on the pulse of what's happening in the
schools," she said. "I care very deeply about education, our schools
and about open communication between all levels."
1. Will the board continue to oversee the details of the ongoing
construction at the schools?
The board has now scheduled an extra meeting before each regular
board meeting in order to review and oversee the ongoing details of
each school's construction. In addition to attending this meeting, I
would also continue to be present at all Citizens' Oversight
Meetings. It is in this committee that the particular details,
timelines and budgets of each construction project are reviewed.
Because I have been a member of this committee since its inception in
April of 2001, I am completely up to speed with all school
construction to date. It is my utmost priority to continue rigorous
2. How will the board ensure the district's financial health in an
The school board currently has a large reserve of money stockpiled
against a failing economy. Even now, the state is curtailing funding
of many programs and more cutbacks are certain. Although I understand
the temptation to use the reserve for current programs, I am
unequivocal in my belief that we must keep our reserves high. I
remember only too vividly the years when the district had to cut
virtually everything, including teachers' salaries. My vow is to
never return to such times. The only certain way to keep our
financial health is to carefully monitor every penny of spending and
to keep our reserve fund intact.
3. Do you feel that classroom size is an important issue at our
Large classroom size is a problem at all four of our schools. When
the forums first began in this campaign, I was the only candidate to
speak of this major impediment to an excellent education. Now I am
gratified to hear others mention it as a problem. Teachers cannot be
expected to interact meaningfully with each student when they have
too many in a class. I want to see hands-on excitement and enthusiasm
for learning in each and every classroom. This is where we must focus
our energy, our attention and our spending!
4. Are you concerned that the current curriculum is more geared
toward preparing students for state testing?
Although state-mandated testing is unavoidable in the public
schools, Laguna Beach has always prided itself on keeping its value
in perspective. Having worked closely with my children's teachers
over the years, I know that they do work to prepare their students to
do well, but refuse to do meaningless "teaching to the test."
Therefore I do not believe that the current curriculum is geared
unduly toward state testing.
5. How will the board help create a more global curriculum that
will prepare students for the future?
In an increasingly competitive global society, the education our
children receive will be the single most important tool with which
they will face their future. With the rapid explosion of technology
and the ever-increasing interdependence of world cultures, their
future will be determined by their ability to adapt, to create, to
learn and to change. We must teach rigorous academics in a setting
where our kids also learn moral values, flexibility and a lifelong
enthusiasm for learning. We need teachers who are excellent role
models and classes small enough that the teacher and the student can