Rob Fishel

Name: Rob Fishel       

Age: 56

Birthplace: Hamilton Air Force Base, Calif.

Residence: 513 20th St., Huntington Beach

Occupation: No answer

Education: bachelor's degree in environmental studies from UC Santa Barbara, 1981; executive MBA USC, 1991

Experience as an educator: No answer

Previously elected or appointed positions: No answer

Community organizations you belong to: No answer

Previous positions: Smith School Site Council, Smith PTA legislative representative, AYSO soccer coach, South Huntington Beach girls' softball coach, Girl Scout Troop treasurer, Ballet Etudes treasurer

Why should constituents vote for you?

The Huntington Beach City School District school board needs someone with a financial background. I have an MBA and worked in both the public and private sector and bring a business approach to education which is required due to the increased necessity to efficiently utilize the resources available. Also, I bring new ideas and approaches to handling some of the difficult decisions. The incumbents have made poor decisions on the sale of LeBard Elementary School and giving huge salary increases to administrators, which has sullied their working relationship with the teacher’s union and the public. I would bring a more cooperative approach to solving the problems. 

Both my children attended Smith Elementary School and my daughter just finished fifth grade there so I understand the problems facing teachers and parents. We all want smaller class sizes and safer campuses. I would work with the principals and teachers to assist them in meeting their needs. 

We can’t count on Sacramento to fix our problems and we need to work with the resources available.  I wouldn’t have spent $70,000 on playground equipment at Seacliff Elementary School as happened recently.  The school is only 10 years old and it needs the parking lot repaved? If it’s in such bad condition, I would have gone after the contractor. There are ways to use the resources available. 

I am also in favor of combining the four elementary school districts in Huntington Beach into one.  Preferably, I would like to see a unified school district with the high school district. There is no reason to have four separate administrators in four separate school districts. I would work to obtain funding and support for combining the school districts and moving towards a unified school district. A Huntington Beach Unified School District would have a greater voice in Sacramento and would also have complete responsibility for the students from kindergarten through high school. This provides better coordination and support because the high schools would take greater responsibility for ensuring that the elementary students met their standards and could move between schools to get the best possible education for that particular student. 

I would also work to lower the cost of health insurance by joining with other school districts to improve our purchasing power with insurance companies. 

What do you think is the biggest problem facing your district and how do you plan to address it? 

Clearly the greatest problem facing the district is money. The state will most likely continue to have financial problems which will affect education funding. I’d utilize the existing funding more efficiently and work to gain greater control over categorical spending. 

Also, I’d discuss with community leaders the possibility of a parcel tax that would directly fund education.  The only way to ensure long-term funding for education is a parcel tax. If the residents want to support education, they will need to consider a parcel tax since relying on Sacramento has proven to be a mistake.  We need to take more local control over education and funding is a key item. 

In the last year, what is one issue that you think the sitting board members handled well and why?

I think appointing Kathy Kessler as superintendent and Carolyn Beck as principal of Smith were good choices. I support promoting employees from within the organization.

In the last year, what is one issue that the board got wrong and what would you have done differently?

Over the last several years the existing board members have continually made salary negotiations contentious. They gave huge salary increases to administrators which was unwarranted and then angered the teachers by a paltry increase. They continue to eliminate positions at the schools, but they haven’t eliminated any assistant superintendents. All must share in the economic pain. The district administration needs to run as lean and efficiently as the schools. 

The most egregious salary increase was for the previous superintendent.  The board said it was needed to retain her services. It was an extremely poor decision that has adversely affected the relationship between the board and teachers and didn’t accomplish the stated goal. In addition, the current board members didn’t even know the full cost of the salary increase because they didn’t include benefits or retirement, which cost substantially more than her salary increase. 

Also, selling LeBard was unnecessary. They will need a district office and renting out space when you have an existing facility makes no sense.

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