The Palo Alto Weekly asked the five school-board candidates to answer 10 questions about current and future issues facing the school district. Jay Cabrera's answers are below.
1. Do you support opening a new elementary, middle and/or high school?
Yes -- a combined space for both elementary and middle, and hopefully high school classes as well. Can also be combined with the Cubberley Community Center goals.
2. What changes do you propose for the district's approach to administrative compensation?
Pay administrators the same as teachers. The lowest-paid teachers makes as little as $70K per year. The superintendent gets $250K per year. That is a substantial difference. The majority of teachers make about $100K per year. The top administrators are easily getting $150K+... Yes, there are a few teachers getting paid pretty high up the scale, but overall the difference is not the highest priority issue my campaign is focused on.
3. What is your vision for the future of Cubberley Community Center?
Mixed-education space and a cultural epicenter for all types of students, including adult education. It could also be the perfect space to launch building a more university-like model of education and also have space for faculty housing. This should be where we are the most interactive with the community, innovative and experimental.
4. Should public hearings be held on the terms of union contracts during the negotiation process?
The public should be able to engage and interact regarding any issue that comes before the board, so yes, there should be public hearings.
5. How can the district better monitor and ensure implementation of its homework policy?
Teachers should be required to enter (on Schoology) the estimated time to complete homework so that you can compare the homework loads across classes.
6. What is the best way to expand access and capacity of the district's choice programs?
To fully fund them. If a pilot or small program has a lot of interest and there is access and capacity issues, by fully funding the program and increasing its budget you will be able to maximize and increase the number of students who have access and increase its capacity.
7. What are your top three ideas for improving the district's fiscal health?
Increase taxes (locally, statewide, and fix Prop. 13); cut administrative overhead and reduce the reserves from the current 12 percent down to about 5 percent over 10 years -- participatory and temporal budgeting.
8. What should the district do to identify and deal with (including firing, if necessary) under-performing teachers?
Work with the community to change the laws to ensure that the youngest teachers are never fired simply for being young. That is age discrimination. Also help build a process for parents and students to directly be engaged in the firing process for the worst teachers.
9. If a member of the public emails a board member about a district matter, should it be made public (as long as it doesn't violate student privacy)? And if it is sent to a board member's private email account?
I am supportive that all correspondence with elected officials should be open and transparent.
10. Should the district rename Terman and Jordan middle schools?
If the community wants to do this and make it a priority I am OK with that. I personally am fine with the names to stay the same, if that is how the majority of the community wants it. If we do change the names, I would support the most interactive process possible to allow the community to choose the new names.