Richard Rodriguez is one of four candidates running for the Pomona Unified School District governing board.
Rodriguez, who is currently a board member, is endorsed by Thelma Melendez, former Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of Education and former superintendent of Pomona Unified School District; L.A. County Probation Officers Union; California School Employees Association; Rosanne Bader, vice president of the Mt. SAC Board of Trustees and former teacher and principal in the Pomona Unified School District; Bob Cruz, director of the California School Board Association, Region 23; Adrienne Konigar-Macklin, president of the Pomona Unified School Board; Cristina Carrizosa, Council member for the city of Pomona; Dan Rodriguez, chief professional officer for the Boys and Girls Club of Placentia, Yorba Linda, Brea and former Council member of the city of Pomona; and Steve Lustro, director of community development with the city of Montclair and former Pomona Unified School District board member.
Patch: Why are you running for the Pomona Unified School District governing board?
Richard Rodriguez: Having dedicated 24 years as a teacher and principal to Pomona and Diamond Bar schools, along with eight years as a PUSD board member, I bring a wealth of educational experience to the board table. My background in education, combined with my colleagues’ diverse areas of professional expertise, has enabled us to make sound fiscal decisions for PUSD.
Our current board works well together and our respect for one another has united us in our commitment to ensure our students are better prepared to face the challenges of a 21st century society and a changing work environment.
I am running for re-election to the Pomona School Board because I feel it is critical during these challenging economic times to continue moving our district forward in a positive direction. With my experience as an educator in Pomona, I know first hand the impacts of board decisions on our schools, from a teacher's perspective as well as a principal's perspective. My top priorities are to continue to increase academic achievement; continue to ensure fiscal responsibility and seek additional sources of funding for education; and continue to maintain open communication and represent the interests of our community, our parents, and our district staff.
What is the biggest challenge facing the board today?
The greatest challenge our school board faces today is continuing to provide a quality education for our students with less funding. Through our cooperative efforts, we have managed to retain our core curriculum, instructional technology, arts, music, GATE, JROTC, and athletic programs, despite millions in state and federal budget cuts. We have been successful in acquiring grant monies to help fund these programs, such as an $18,000 grant by the Alcoa Foundation for our Adult Ed program, as well as a multi-million dollar School Improvement Grant; however, funding continues to be a challenge.
As our district's delegate to the State School Board Association, I have lobbied our state and federal legislators to end the cuts to education. I was instrumental in acquiring federal funds to secure the jobs of teachers and classified staff, enabling the district to rescind 113 layoff notices.
We must continue to seek additional sources of funding for our schools. It is our responsibility to provide the necessary resources that will help prepare our children to be responsible, caring, and successful in our community.
What makes you stand out from the other candidates?
I am the only candidate who has a Master's Degree in School Administration. I am the only candidate with experience as a teacher (Madison and Alcott, resource teacher at Kellogg), a principal (Diamond Point for six years, Mendoza for seven years) and board member. I was also a coordinator in state and federal programs.
I have dedicated my entire 32-year career to the Pomona and Diamond Bar communities and schools. This has allowed me the unique opportunity to examine issues from all perspectives, and make decisions accordingly.
If you could change anything in the district, what would it be?
Although we have made great strides to involve parents and community, true community partnerships can only be accomplished by continuing to build trust and confidence through transparency and accessibility. We need to do more to get parents and community involved in our students' education.
The school board and district administration know that in order to build better relationships with our community, we must listen to and act upon their interests. One key area of concern has been the lack of athletic facilities for all of our high schools. On November 3, the board voted unanimously to begin construction plans for new athletic stadiums at Garey, Pomona, and Diamond Ranch High Schools.
We must also continue to foster positive working relationships between the governing board, district administration, teachers and classified employees, which results in a more positive atmosphere for our students.
Please share any additional information you think readers would like to know.
I am a fourth-generation Pomona Valley resident and I have lived in the Pomona Unified School District for over 27 years. I have four grown children, three of which attended Pomona Unified Schools. I received my BA in Sociology, and my MA in School Administration from the University of La Verne. I am a proud veteran of the United States Army and California National Guard, and have been active in numerous community/civic organizations, such as the Fraternal Order of the Eagles (Pomona Post 2215) and American Legion (Pomona Post 30). I am past president and currently active with the Pomona Host Lions Club. I am on the San Antonio Regional Occupational Program Board of Directors.
During my eight years as an elected member of the PUSD governing board our district has shown eight years of significant and sustained growth in our API scores, despite budget cuts. I supported bond measure PS and helped lead a successful campaign to get it passed. I have been instrumental in acquiring funding to save teacher and classified jobs. I supported applying for and receiving a School Improvement Grant in the amount of $17 million.
I enjoy visiting our schools and interacting with parents, students and staff. I hope I have earned your confidence as an educator and board member.
With your support and your vote to re-elect me on November 8 I will strive to continue to provide the leadership necessary to promote family values and quality education, provide a safe environment, encourage integration of technology, and ensure fiscal responsibility.