Name: Judith Ann (Judy) Franco
Birthplace: Des Moines, Iowa
How long have you lived in the Newport-Mesa School District: 42 years
Occupation or former occupation: Former teacher and current governing board member, Newport-Mesa Unified School District, Trustee Area 5
Education: graduate, UC Berkeley, bachelor's Degree; teaching credential – K-9
Previous elected position/appointed position: elected member of the California School Boards Assn. Delegate Assembly (governing body); elected member of Orange County School Boards Assn. Board of Directors – Unified representative; member California Youth and Government program Board of Directors; appointed governmental relations chairwoman at the state/federal level by the California School Boards Assn. for Assemblyman Chuck DeVore and Congressman John Campbell; past president, Orange County School Boards Assn.; past PTA president – Newport Elementary School; Ensign Intermediate School; Newport Harbor High School and Harbor Council; current PTA board member at Davis Magnet Elementary School; Ensign Intermediate; Newport Harbor High School and Harbor Council.
Community organizations you belong to: PTA board member, Davis Magnet, Ensign Intermediate, Newport Harbor High and Harbor Council; Lido Isle Yacht Club, Environmental Nature Center; Newport Harbor Nautical Museum; Speak Up Newport; Costa Mesa Historical Society; Newport Harbor Republican Women
Why are you running: I am running because I care deeply about the 22,000+ students, pre-K-12, who attend our schools. Three of those students are my grandchildren. The district is facing rough waters ahead with severe budget cuts from the state; further intrusion on local governance; expanding role of the U.S. Department of Education and continued emphasis on a one-size fits all measurement. I will continue to focus my energy on working together to narrow/close the achievement gap, promote data driven decisions, encourage professional learning communities and ensure fiscal and staff accountability.
What is one decision in the last year that you feel the board voted correctly on and why?
The completion of the athletic facilities at Estancia, TeWinkle Middle School and Costa Mesa High School, the opening of Davis Magnet and the construction of Newport Harbor High's Performing Arts Complex, science labs and administrative offices to replace the unsafe facilities. These were the top priorities of the Citizen’s Equity Committee and were completed without having to compromise the tax rate approved by the voters in Measure F. Because of the hard work of staff and the board, we were able to obtain hardship money from California, money that allowed us to move forward with the Costa Mesa Aquatic Center at least a year ahead of our projected timeline.
What is one decision that you wish you had not had to make?
It is unfortunate that it was with deep regret that the board was forced to issue site staff layoff notices to address the state’s fiscal crisis and the lower property tax income due to the recession. For the previous two budgets, we had made cuts at the Central Office level. With about 90% of our budget devoted to salaries and benefits, we were faced this year with a necessary reduction of $13.5 million on top of about $20 million in cuts made over the previous two years. Sixty percent of the reductions this year again came out of the Central Office. The remaining 40% came by reducing staff at the sites. It was a very difficult decision for everyone on the board to have to make. We are continuing to work hard to re-employ as many of these wonderful teachers and counselors as late retirements are confirmed and individual schools show an increase in enrollment.