School board candidates questioned

Editor's note: This corrects Rochelle Giuseffi former occupation.

The five candidates for the Fountain Valley School District board fielded questions Tuesday evening on their qualifications, how they would maintain the district's excellence and programs they would bring back when funding is up.

The Superintendent's Parent Council hosted a candidate forum at the district headquarters for the five candidates vying for three open seats.

Candidates were given two minutes for an introduction, two minutes each for five questions from the council, one minute for audience-submitted questions and a one-minute closing.

The first question candidates were asked was how they would maintain the district's reputation for excellence.

Incumbent Judy Edwards, a retired teacher and field supervisor for student teachers at Chapman University, said she would maintain the high core standards and encourage a professional learning community where teachers work together to plan in their free time.

Sandra Crandall, a recently retired district kindergarten and first-grade teacher and reading specialist, said the district needs to continue hiring highly qualified teachers, maintain staff development and invest in technology.

Jimmy Templin, a public school administrator, said the key is to identify the district's weaknesses and determine how to strengthen them.

Incumbent Nicola Weiss, a parent volunteer and mother of five, said the district needs to stay up-to-date on technology and maintain communication between the schools, the district and the community.

Rochelle Giuseffi, a retired instruction assistant, said the district needs to focus on keeping students in the classroom and find out why some students are choosing to leave Fountain Valley.

Candidates were also asked what eliminated or reduced service or program they would restore first when funding returns.

Weiss said she would restore the reading specialists, a program that helps at-risk students improve their reading, comprehension and enunciation, the librarians and the GATE program.

Giuseffi said band and music programs are important to children, especially special-education students, as well as drama programs.

Edwards said she would also make reading specialists and librarians her first priority along with hands-on science programs.

Crandall said reading specialists, class-size reductions in the lower primary grades, staff development, summer school and GATE testing would all be her priority.

Templin said there is a good chance the funding won't return quickly, but said reading specialists and librarians would be his first picks.

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