Menifee School Board Forum - Recap

Five of the six candidates for Menifee Union School District board showed up this evening for the scheduled public forum hosted by the local...

Five of the six candidates for Menifee Union School District board showed up this evening for the scheduled public forum hosted by the local PTA. Victor Giardinelli couldn't appear due to laryngitis.

The forum was held in a format similar to the "town hall" format, where candidates took turn answering questions from the public. Betti Cadmus, the district's public information officer, moderated the event.

The meeting was sparsely attended. I counted about 30 people in the audience, and of that number about 10-12 were actually parents. Most of those parents were part of the PTA hosting the event. I think I counted only two parents who were not PTA. The other 20 or so people in the audience were employees of the school district.

I wasn't able to find out if all 20 of the employees lived in Menifee or not; it could very well be that some of them don't live in the district and may not even be eligible to vote.

The forum fielded only a total of five questions. I don't know how many of those questions were asked on the standpoint of being a parent, versus the standpoint of being an employee. But considering that much of the audience were district employees, it could very well be that some questions, if not all, were asked on the standpoint of being an employee.

Combine that with the possibility that some of those employees may not be elgible to vote in this district, I'm not really certain this forum allowed candidates to differentiate themselves from each other in the minds of parents.

It also didn't help that this forum coincided with the last Presidential Debate.

Questions and Statements

Below are the questions answers from the forum. Please take care to note that these are not the candidates actual answers, they're just my summaries and paraphrases. The only recording equipment I was able to bring with me was my pen and notepad, and therefore had to abbreviate everything to keep up...

Candidate Opening Statements

Jerry Bowman - Cited his 30 years experience in education, Masters Degree in Arts. Works as a consultant with other school districts helping them facilitate their professional learning communities. Is a US Army Vet. Says he wants to address the "whole student", meaning addressing not just their education, but helping develop their life experiences, future needs. Wants to put students first.

Randall Freeman - Cited his achievements as a leader in the local Masonic Lodge in relation to assisting the local schools. Cited his experience raising four daughters, three of them being triplets. Has taught at Val Verde School District for 20 years, and taught kindergarten for 10 years. Is the only teacher with a National Board Teacher Certification. Is working towards a doctorate towards childhood education.

Pheoba Irey - Cited her experience as a reading teacher in several states. Says she believes we have an excellent school district. Stated during her tenure as school board member, the district saw three of its schools become California Distinguished Schools. Helped the unification effort, campaigned for single track, and continue her goals for excellence in education the next four years.

Ron Ulibarri - Cited his eight years experience as a teacher, and his owning a local real estate business. Says he knows the teachers here and that helps him develop a good sense of what MUSD is. Says he has a willingness to make the district the best district in south west Riverside County. He mentioned that as a real estate broker, his clients always tell him that they're buying a home in Murrieta or Temecula because the schools are so much better there. That made him want to improve Menifee schools. Wants to pay more attention to student needs, focus on the basics, and not be too "test oriented".

Manolito Vitug - Cited his long experience working in the banking industry. Now teaches finance management at Mt San Jacinto College. Also volunteers as a reading tutor through the MUSD "Great" program. He wants to establish a revenue generating center within the school district to bring about financial stability. He wants to put more emphasis on developing the "human qualities" in children, such as Honesty and Duty, through the arts and sciences.

Questions

1. How will you better facilitate communication between b