School Board Candidates Respond To Questions From LAHS ‘Topper Times’ Student Publishers


The “Topper Times” is a newsletter published at Los Alamos High School by student members of the IVote Club. In their November edition, seven students covered the Los Alamos School Board races for Tuesday’s local election in detail and asked all the candidates some excellent questions. On Friday morning, the “Topper Times” appeared on social media and the Los Alamos Reporter began receiving phone calls and emails about some of the answers given to the students on certain issues discussed with the students. In addition, a letter to the editor was received Friday afternoon.

Although the Reporter already had the publication, she sought permission to publish the “Topper Times” as a whole. Permission from the parents of four of the seven students was received by Los Alamos High School staff by 6:30 p.m. Friday to add the students’ names to the portion of the newsletter below. If permission is received from the parents of the other three students, their names will be added.

* Luke Favorite is another member of the IVote team. He wrote about the UNM-LA Advisory Board race for the “Topper Times”. Others who contributed to the November edition were Karl Sinkula and Philippa Fung.


District 1 – Ellen Specter – Written by OLIVIA KOO

LAPS’ motto is to prepare confident, life-long learners–what does this mean to you?

Specter: To me the motto means that learning doesn’t stop when a student graduates high school, but a good PreK-12 education in LAPS provides young adults with the skills and hopefully the interest and motivation to continue to learn throughout their lives.

How is educational progress/achievement (pick one) best measured?

Specter: I can’t pick just one. It depends on the learner and the subject. For some classes and some students, a test might be the best measure. For others, class participation and day to day work and assignments might be a better way to assess progress. There are students who can best show their achievements through a portfolio or project. There is no one size fits all for the best way to measure progress and achievement.

COVID-19 Policy

How will you approach COVID protocol if elected? What are your views on mask mandates?

Specter: Throughout the pandemic, I have done my best to keep up with the latest science based guidance and research. However, I am not a doctor or epidemiologist myself, so I rely on the experts. At the very least, LAPS should follow state mandates and guidance.

That being said, I have also seen the state decision makers lag on some tough decisions like closing schools or enacting mask mandates. I err on the side of caution in these public health matters with the goal of as much face to face in school learning as possible.

Masks are an effective (not perfect) tool to help decrease the community spread of Covid-19 and help keep schools open. I am in favor of mask mandates for everyone indoors and outdoors where transmission is high. `

Critical Race Theory

It appears that Critical Race Theory is a recurring topic in this year’s election cycle. What are your thoughts?

Specter: This term is misused by the Republican Party to distract, raise fears and stoke racial tension. CRT is a graduate level course that is not taught in K-12 schools.

Environmental Policy

Do you think being eco-friendly is a top priority? If so, how would you help make our school district move towards being more eco-friendly?

Specter: Yes. I would like to see LAPS practices, purchases and building decisions made with impact on the environment as an important factor. As we have rebuilt and remodeled schools, I have frequently raised this topic.

As we have rebuilt and remodeled schools, I have frequently raised this topic. Other ideas include purchasing electric or hybrid vehicles, installing solar panels on new buildings when this becomes economically viable, xeriscaping when practical,

Final Questions

In your opinion, what is the most important issue LAPS should address? Why, and how will you address it?

Specter: Right now, the most important short term issue is hiring a new superintendent who will be an excellent leader for LAPS. The process has already begun. I look forward to working with the rest of the School board to hire and successfully on board our new Superintendent.

What will be your first or main priority if you’re elected to the school board? Why?

Specter: Hiring and onboarding a new superintendent who has the necessary experience, similar values and a commitment to educating the whole child so that LAPS students and staff can thrive.

Why should voters vote for you?

Specter: Because I’m the only one who chose to run for this seat 😉 But seriously, I urge District 1 voters to cast their ballots for UNM-LA Advisory Board representatives and even more importantly, to vote for the School Mill Levy re-approval.

District 2: Stephen Boerigter, Paul Jaramillo and Antonio Jaurigue

What motivated you to run for office?

Boerigter: I’m on the LAPS Board today and would like to participate in three main initiatives: hiring the new superintendent, seeing the North Mesa Housing Study move forward, and construction on the White Rock elementary schools.

Jaramillo: My motivation stems from a deep care for the education of our students and for assuring a comfortable environment for all persons on our campuses.

Jaurigue: The pandemic has shown me how many voices have not been heard by the school board. From educators to parents, to some students, many have had needs that went unanswered. After witnessing this, I wanted to run so that I could put in the effort to communicate with as many people directly impacted by the school board to reflect what they want and need.

LAPS’ motto is to prepare confident, life-long learners–what does this mean to you?

Boerigter: Sounds like myself and my wife! Education is SO MUCH MORE than just getting a job. It’s about advancing the good of society and engaging in civil discourse.

Jaramillo: It means that our investment into our students today will determine how well and confident they are as they enter adult life and will represent our performance as a district.

Jaurigue: I believe that the value of education and continuous learning is the best way to promote individual growth far beyond school. That could mean that a parent can learn new ways to teach their children, or strives to get new certifications to advance professionally, to instill the values will set them up for success far into the future.

How is educational progress/achievement best measured?

Boerigter: Interesting… the best measures are a bit less quantitative. Can I bump into someone I don’t know in the grocery store and have a good conversation on any topic?

Jaramillo: I think by encouraging multiple attempts in mastery instead of stamping a grade on an assignment and calling it a day. It’s important to motivate students to their full potential before a final measure of their performance is finalized.

Jaurigue: The best way to measure progress is to have a baseline. Currently, standardized tests are the way we track the educational progress of the district. However, changes in standardized testing have left us with a lack of data to produce adequate trends of the district. As far as individual progress is concerned, the teachers are the first source of information on student progress. They are present during lessons and testing and can ensure that progress is made to advance the student. If progress is not made, the educators can and should be able to recognize it and take action to address the lack of progress. This could mean attempting to teach differently or contacting the parents to agree on an action.

COVID-19 Policy

How will you approach COVID protocol if elected? What are your views on mask mandates?

Boerigter: Following the state’s requirements. Let them be the experts (even if I don’t agree). I think we’re at a point where intelligent individuals can make choices.

Jaramillo: If elected I will push for student and parental choice of what precautions they will choose. Preferably no masks. They are dangerous and unsanitary and are not being used properly. If the district wants to mandate masks the district should provide the best mask available daily as students arrive. A new one every day. Again, this should be a student or parent’s choice.

Jaurigue: If elected, I would follow the advice of the experts. In this case that is the CDC, and NMDOH. If they advise us that masks are the best way to mitigate spread in our schools; that is the stance I would take. If the state mandates masks indoors for all educational facilities, I would support the enforcement of masks.

Critical Race Theory It appears that Critical Race Theory is a recurring topic in this year’s election cycle. What are your thoughts?

Boerigter: Teachers need to teach with passion. Children should be trusted to think. Jaramillo: CRT is dangerous and will destroy education as we know. I say this because CRT causes more division and reminds students of their past and can possibly hold a student from looking forward to their full potential. CRT also was a foundation to the birth of BLM and Antifa and we all know where that went.

Jaurigue: I sympathize with people’s concerns on what they think Critical Race Theory (CRT) is, however, it is more complicated than what soundbites would have some believe. Beyond being a law school curriculum, the fact remains that CRT is not in our schools, or at risk of entering our schools. Environmental Policy

Do you think being eco-friendly is a top priority? If so, how would you help make our school district move towards being more eco-friendly?

Boerigter: Yes – it should be an individual priority. It would be tough to create a universally accepted quantitative measure of “eco-friendly”. This is why “eco-friendly” or other measures such as “carbon neutral” should be about individual choices.

Jaramillo: No, it shouldn’t be a top priority. It’s important and we should all be consciously aware of the earth God has blessed us with and we are to care for it.

Jaurigue: I do believe it should be one of the main focus points of the school board. Not only because climate change impacts everyone, but because there are going to be some very immediate actions that can be taken to promote eco-friendliness in our district. The most immediate action can be to implement green technology in the elementary school re-builds in White Rock. Both Chamisa Elementary and Pinon Elementary will be rebuilt in the next few years, and this is the best way to make those buildings reflect the most recent eco-friendly features.

Final Questions

In your opinion, what is the most important issue LAPS should address? Why, and how will you address it?

Boerigter: The most important question for LAPS is hiring the new superintendent. They will impact our community in a significant way.

Jaramillo: Student academics is number one. Stay focused on traditional classroom subject teaching. Math, science, social studies, language arts, etc. keeping racial issues, identity group thinking, and elevated sex education out of the classroom. Why? Because our data shows a drop in performance in the last ten years. I will push for these changes in whatever capacity I can once elected.

Jaurigue: Some immediate issues are on a timeline that requires immediate attention, such as the aforementioned White Rock elementary school rebuild, as well as a proposed housing initiative on the cross country lot near the middle school. There is also the process of selecting the new Superintendent for the district. But beyond those immediate tasks, one of the biggest issues is the promotion of the mental health of our students and staff, which the superintendent should promote as well. The past year has not been easy on anyone and the students have had to navigate changes that no one was prepared for. The same can be said for the educators who had to switch to a virtual classroom, establish a working model with students and parents who may not have been prepared, only to return to the classroom with the added responsibility of enforcing COVID safety. This has highlighted the need to promote a healthy mental state, not only during times of turmoil but during times of calm as well.

What will be your first or main priority if you’re elected to the school board? Why?

Boerigter: As with the past 4 years on the board, my main priority is to follow a three-step process on all subjects: listen, think, act.

Jaramillo: Volunteering, setting that example that I deeply care for the students and staff and assuring a safe environment for all.

Jaurigue: The hiring of a superintendent will be one of the first acts of the next term. With that, I will prioritize a superintendent that is not only focused on the superficial success of the district but also the wellbeing of the people that make our district what it is. Although this is not an initiative, my priority is to always listen to and bring the voice of the community to the school board. I will keep my email active and available to the public and hope to hear and reflect on all the concerns of the public. Why should voters vote for you?

Boerigter: They should vote for me if their personal preferences for a school board member align with my stated views and experience.  Otherwise, they shouldn’t.

Jaramillo: Voters should vote for me because I sincerely want students and staff to be proud of the district they are in and I will strive daily to keep making that happen.

Jaurigue: With 3 children in the district, 2 at the elementary level, I have shown myself to be an active member in the school district with a long history of volunteer work. With the connections I’ve made, I am in touch with what the school wants, but most importantly what they need. I am not going to enter the position with the mindset that I know what is best for the district and its citizens, but rather as a representative. If elected, I represent them. This is an elected position, not an appointed one, and I am best positioned to represent the county.

District 4 – Melanie Colgan, Rick Mooday – Written by ELIZABETH FROST

General Questions What motivated you to run for office?

Colgan: Melanie Colgan is a mother of five, a nurse, and current president of the school board. Prior to first running for office, Colgan was heavily involved in the schools, serving as Barranca’s PTO president, organizer for the Bobcat Bonanza and a classroom volunteer. However, she always felt like she could do more, and therefore decided to run for office. Colgan is running for reelection as she still wants to be involved in our schools and give back to the community. Furthermore, seeing as the school board is currently in a period of transition she hopes to see the projects she is currently working on carry forth. Colgan and the rest of the school board are in the process of choosing a superintendent, and she is also working on other projects, such as collaborating with Ms. Guy, the interim superintendent, to provide teachers with more time to plan lessons.

Mooday: Rick Mooday, a father of four, decided to run for office after perceiving a decline in the overall education his children received as his children moved through the LAPS system, particularly since his children and career have advanced to a point where he could entertain “this important commitment that [he] felt [he] owed to the community. Furthermore, “The insidious influence of self-hating and America-hating ideologies (CRT and the new version: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – DEI) has increased to a point where I could not, in good conscience, stand by and do nothing.”

 LAPS’ motto is to prepare confident, life-long learners–what does this mean to you?

Colgan: For Colgan, this is exactly what she based her platform on when she first ran, pre-covid: confident, life-long learners. Colgan wants “our students in LAPS to know that everyone has the ability to be a life-long learner, and that doesn’t necessarily mean going off to a fancy university when you are done here.” She hopes that students will not only gain a great academic background, but also vocational and technical training as they desire so that they continue building upon their skill in the future, whether that be in a four year university, community college, vocational school, or the military. She wants students to know that “there are plenty of opportunities, and that those are good opportunities and it’s worth taking advantage of them.”

Mooday: “It is a hollow and depressing statement illustrating the low expectations our school system has for our students. No wonder test scores are dropping when our ultimate goal is future ‘learning’. We ALL should expect our successful graduates to be capable of MUCH more than simply additional ‘learning’ when they graduate. Who wants to ‘learn’ for a lifetime? HS graduates should leave school not only capable of additional learning but fully ready to be ‘do-ers’, capable of following dreams and changing the world from day 1. ‘Lifelong learning’ is meant to sound noble but it is just another of the cynical ideologies (more CRT garbage) designed to dampen excellence in young Americans. It’s ultimate goal is to prepare future workers for an endless cycle of returning to government issued certification and training courses to meet ever evolving corporate needs blah blah blah.  It is depressing and students can see the hypocrisy in these thin ideologies.”

How is educational progress/achievement best measured?

Colgan: Rather than measuring this success in traditional grades and GPAs, Colgan believes that education progress should be measured by finding enthusiasm for something specific in one’s life. Colgan herself was an average student in high school, and it wasn’t until she took a lifeguarding class in her junior year that her mindset changed, as she fell in love with having the medical knowledge to help others in emergency situations. Colgan completed her high school career by earning her EMT license, which inspired her to become a corpsman in the Navy, finally becoming a nurse after being sent to nursing school by the Navy. The reason for her career success was not due to her school achievement necessarily, but rather her passion for the field. Colgan hopes that LAPS will provide students with opportunities to be inspired to continue learning after high school, as well as the confidence to do so.

Mooday: “The best way to measure academic achievement is through testing, written or practical. Not life crushing, soul stealing experiences but frequent and focused opportunities to show exactly what you can do (i.e. like a ‘do-er’). Many will say testing is not the best way, but rarely do they offer an improvement. Until they offer something better, testing is it. Every profession has a test, a plumber’s test is the homeowner flushing the toilet she just fixed; a roofer’s test is the first rain on the roof just completed and an artist’s test is whether or not the art can be sold to generate a decent life. Workforce multiplying programs need to be revived in the High School, to enable students in multiple tracks to succeed in crafts and building trades.”

COVID-19 Policy How will you approach COVID protocol if elected? What are your views on mask mandates?

Colgan: Currently the NMPED provides COVID protocol for the schools. However, Colgan states that there is always more we could do. We are currently following the mask mandate and positive case response protocol. Personally, Colgan believes that mask mandates are effective, and she is also pro-vaccine and social distancing. Currently 97% of the staff and 78% of eligible students are vaccinated, and Colgan would love to see those high vaccination rates continue.

Mooday: “Current COVID protocols in schools are satisfactory and effective. I will commit to implementing effective protocols to ensure our students stay in school. Closing our schools was exceptionally damaging to our entire student population. Keeping students and staff healthy while in school will be my top priority.

“When the word ‘mandate’ is used, I want to be specific as misconceptions are frequent. I do not agree with authoritarian government mandates (or anti-mandates). Government’s role is to protect citizen’s rights, not to direct private or community actions. Local control of school requirements is not what I consider a mandate. They protect students and the more vulnerable teachers and staff. They reduce the documented stigma that unvaccinated students and staff are currently facing. I believe that masks make sense for all schools right now.”

Critical Race Theory It appears that Critical Race Theory is a recurring topic in this year’s election cycle. What are your thoughts?

Colgan: For Colgan, Critical Race Theory is a bit of a non topic, particularly since it is not being taught in our schools. In fact, CRT started out as a graduate school course for law schools, and hence definitely not law schools. She states that in New Mexico, the social studies curriculum is currently being updated, but that the Public Education Department has not released any information stating that it will include CRT, nor is an mandate of CRT expected.

Mooday: “CRT/DEI ideologies are simply re-hashed Marxism with a new and more agile class system definition that replaces the old ‘proletariat’ of bygone days. CRT denies the sovereignty of the individual and exerts sovereignty of identity groups (as long as they are convenient) but never benefits those groups. It has infiltrated our schools curricula already. My own children were taught in LAPS that the USA was founded on racist beliefs and foundations. This easily disprovable lie is believed by many students, adults and some sitting LAPS Board members. The founding principles of the USA are pinnacles of morality and anti-racism and have led to the pre-eminent position of the USA in the world today. Tens of thousands of minority potential immigrants line our southern border. They are NOT begging to enter the country because it is systemically racist! The words ‘All men are created equal’ were used by Abraham Lincoln to end slavery in America just under 90 years after they were written, Find me racism in those words or any of the 111 words that our country was founded on in the Declaration of Independence. Slavery, pervasive for all of recorded human history, was almost wiped from the planet in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s explicitly due to these ideas. The new proposed 2022 NM Social Studies curriculum is rife with CRT principles. In this document, Kindergarteners are asked to discuss members of their ‘identity group’. I have many more thoughts but will stop here!”

Environmental Policy Do you think being eco-friendly is a top priority? If so, how would you help make our school district move towards being more eco-friendly?

Colgan: For Colgan, the environment is definitely a priority, but not a top priority since issues such as COVID-19 take precedence. Still, Colgan supports environmental efforts within the school district, and seeing as students have passion for both change and the environment, she would like to see students lead the way. Colgan also believes that the schools could do more to incorporate three R’s (reuse, reduce, recycle) and composting. However, she recognizes that she is not expert on this issue, and is therefore open to other ideas.

Mooday: For Mooday, the priority status of an eco-friendly school depends on its definition. Assuming it aligns with his definition of sustainability, Mooday states, “I would say that it should be a priority, but my top priorities all involve enabling student success. At each opportunity, adopting economical and sustainable practices for all the schools should be a priority because it’s the right decision in the short and long term. When facility changes or upgrades are required, we should seek to understand all of the options to improve our environmental and ecological impact while conserving resources. Limiting our adverse impact to the environment while maximizing sustainability and fiscal accountability makes sense for everyone.”

Final Questions In your opinion, what is the most important issue LAPS should address? Why, and how will you address it?

Colgan: For Colgan, the most important issue LAPS should address is COVID-19, specifically keeping kids physically in school and prioritizing in-person learning. This includes enforcing masking and social distancing, as well as encouraging vaccines.

Mooday: “The most important issue is declining academic performance. Hiring the right Superintendent is the most important step in correcting academic performance issues. Distracted priorities and policies need to be addressed and are a large part of the problem. Inappropriate and constantly changing curricula are also part of the problem. Enabling our fantastic teachers, staff and counselors to do their job will get us most of the way back!” What will be your first or main priority if you’re elected to the school board? Why?

Colgan: Colgan’s main priorities are everything involving COVID-19, particularly working to keep learning in person, and finding a new superintendent who looks at students as a whole, rather than just from an academic perspective. She hopes to round out the district’s education to include trade and vocational training and to provide even more support to teachers.

Mooday: “Working to address declining performance is the main priority and hiring the right Superintendent is the first priority! Declining performance means less opportunity for LAPS graduates and that is unacceptable for me and should be for the entire community.”

Why should voters vote for you?

Colgan: Colgan responded, “I am a medical professional, and we are still in a global pandemic. But more importantly, I am also a voice of reason. I am not running on a political agenda, I am running for our students. I am running to keep them safe, I am running to keep them in school, I am running to make decisions that are good for our students, that protect them.”

Mooday: “I see the issues and causes of the issues threatening our students, parents, families, teachers and staff. I will seek to understand issues to enable effective policies for LAPS. I will empower and work with the new superintendent to maximize the value LAPS provides to graduates as they head out into the world.”

District 5 – Nickole Aguilar Garcia, Erin Green – Written by DANA ROELOFS

General Questions

What motivated you to run for office?

Aguilar Garcia: Garcia wants to ‘give back’ and ‘get more involved.’ As a 1997 graduate of Los Alamos High School, a native New Mexican, and several children currently in the LAPS system, she aims to provide prospective students with traditional education incentives.

Green: Green is a counselor that is passionate about “working with kids” and “giving them a voice”. She wants school “to be a safe space for young folks” and to “give a voice to the youth”.

LAPS’ motto is to prepare confident, life-long learners –what does this mean to you?

Aguilar Garcia: She believes that students should be confident to go out into the world with the tools they need for “all paths” and a strong educational “foundation”. Overall, she wants students to have a “feeling of confidence and independence” that will allow them “to take the next step, whatever that may be”.

Green: Green believes that there has to be “balance” and “mental wellness”. She states that different individuals come to this motto with different mindsets, and that it is not about striving for “academic performance” but about making students feel “valid and wanted.”

How is educational progress/achievement best measured?

 Aguilar Garcia: Garcia states that there is ‘no one size fits all, no one set of standards,’ and that progress and achievement is measured differently for every student. She believes that standardized tests are needed for a benchmark to know where we are at. For K-6, she advocates for assessments to be more ‘individual’ and to assess the ‘whole child.’

Green: Green states that it is measured “differently for every single child” and that we have to make sure every student is getting what they need. Because of gaps as to who does and does not perform well on standardized testing, she states that there should be “alternative methods to testing”. She urges everyone to ask themselves “how are we being creative?” and that we should not “reinvent the wheel”, but that we should look 100% at the issue in detail and determine the best way to move forward.

COVID-19 Policy

How will you approach COVID protocol if elected? What are your views on mask mandates?

Aguilar Garcia: Garcia has two “academically vulnerable” children and noticed how they, along with so many other students, struggled during the pandemic. Her educational goal is to address and “pay attention to learning gaps” that were created during the COVID-19 lockdown. She has “no issues” with mask mandates. When addressing the vaccine mandates, she claims the school board is in “no position” to make the decision as to the vaccine since they are ‘not medical professionals’, it should be a “personal choice” between the parent, child and their doctor. But she is very clear that she is “not anti-vax”, just “anti-vax mandate.”

Green: Green states that COVID-19 protocol is very “straightforward” and that we should follow the guidance from the World Health Organization and other medical professionals. She emphasizes that the school board has to “meet communities’ needs” with COVID policy. She supports “universal masking” and is “pro-vaccine” but does not support a “vaccination mandate” because parents and students should be allowed “to choose for their own body.” She advocates to “listen to the science, leaders, and experts.”

Critical Race Theory

It appears that Critical Race Theory is a recurring topic in this year’s election cycle. What are your thoughts?

 Aguilar Garcia: Garcia states that Critical Race Theory is a “complex issue” taught at university level courses that could not be “effectively presented” at the K-12 level and is “not appropriate for younger children”. She does not want education to be based on “trending or hot topic issues,” but on a traditional curriculum. She states that it could be taught later on if taught “objectively”, but acknowledges that it is difficult to do because it is such a political term.

Green: Green is aware that “CRT is not taught in the LAPS schools, but that the term CRT has started to become synonymous with historical facts about oppression of marginalized groups.” She states that although it is not taught in k-12 schools, Critical Race Theory encompasses an idea that “US history can make some people uncomfortable.” She states that the US is a country that was built upon marginalization and that we should “give youth all the information in a way that is appropriate for their age”. She reiterated that “I don’t believe in censoring information” and that there should be “no barriers between a person and the ability to appropriately access information.”

Environmental Policy

Do you think being eco-friendly is a top priority? If so, how would you help make our school district move towards being more eco-friendly?

Aguilar Garcia: “Definitely.” Specifically, she states that new infrastructure being built and “old infrastructure that is being updated should be eco-friendly, for example by having efficient HVAC” (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Garcia wants to “maximize resources” and “cut back on waste.” She states that it is “always important” to make sure we are using things efficiently, and that we have to be “cognisant of taxpayer money.” She also states that eco-friendliness can’t just be a top down reform, but that schools should get the “student body involved. “Everyone needs to be engaged,” it can be as simple as teaching younger kids to recycle paper after a school project.

Green: “Yes. 100% Yes.” To Green, “[climate change is] terrifying” especially having young children, and she is therefore “dedicated to the green initiative”. This means “producing less waste”, creating “gardening programs” and “planting trees.” She explains that the “county has great resources”,and is already doing a great job, and that we should “invite them[local experts] to come to a school board meeting.” PEEC also has a close relationship with schools that should be maintained. It is important to Green that being eco-friendly “stays a priority”, and proposes “gardening programs” and “focusing the rebuilds on environmental efficiency”. She states that “lots of steps are being taken for positive changes” and becoming “more sustainable.”

Direct Questions

In your opinion, what is the most important issue LAPS should address? Why, and how will you address it?

Aguilar Garcia: Academic Excellence: Garcia states that academic excellence has been on the decline, seen in test scores over the last several years since Common Core was implemented. She says that seeing a “lull” is normal after implementing a new curriculum, but we should “start to see a pick up after four years,” and “we aren’t seeing it”. She states that “Constant turnover in curriculum makes it difficult for teachers to validate the curriculum and the turnover is having an impact.” She clarifies that “we have incredible teachers and staff”, but emphasizes that teachers need a consistent curriculum. Special Education: Garcia has two children that are part of the special education program and states that their “special education teachers are incredible” but “overworked.” She says that special education teachers are working “non-stop” and calls to give them the support they need. She advocates for district to “recruit and retain special education teachers” especially after the COVID-19 lockdown because there is anywhere from “6 months to 2 years of learning loss” for students, often on the higher end for special education students. Trade Programs: Garcia expressed how influential and helpful a work-study program in high school was for her. She advocates for involving “other businesses, not just the lab” in offering opportunities to students that don’t fit the academic standards of the lab or their STEM-focused opportunities. Activities and Athletics: She is a “big advocate” of activities and athletics because it helps students academically, having to meet a certain standard to participate. She states that it gives them outside learning opportunities and engages them with the community.

Green: Emotional Support: Green explains that every school site will need a “different approach” to social-emotional wellness. She advocates to “pause and examine the needs of every different school site”, leading to success in all of the different schools since their individual needs can be met. She wants everyone in school to feel “welcomed and wanted.” She wants “kids to be kids” who are “safe [and] wanted”, and prepared for the transition into adulthood. She states that “counselor availability” is just as important as sustaining counselor positions long-term in the schools, because “kids in crisis need to have access to someone who can listen.” She also advocates for upholding “community norms to set a tone of acceptance and support.”

What will be your first or main priority if you’re elected to the school board? Why?

Aguilar Garcia: Garcia’s priority is “the search for the new Superintendent”. She states we have to “get the leader” before we can focus on other issues, someone who has shown great leadership skills in the past, preferably in a medium or larger district, and “someone who knows how to operate” and “how to manage the budget.” Garcia adds that someone that “engages with the community” is just as important. They have to be “visible”, “show up”, “engaged”, “known to students” and “seen as a team member”.

Green: Her first and main priority will be to address “mental health.”

Why should voters vote for you?

Aguilar Garcia: Garcia has a “vested interest” and wants to put “students first”. She wants to give staff the resources necessary to create an environment that will give students the ability to “take on the world” no matter how they choose to do so.

Green: Green is “deeply passionate about meeting every single student, parent and teacher where they are at,” making sure to “hold a space for their needs.” She emphasizes her capability to have an “unbiased approach when it comes to the entire district.” Her main goal is to make everyone in LAPS feel “wanted and safe.”