Fresno Bee voter guide

Welcome to our guide for Election 2016 races. Compare candidates' views side by side, then create your own ballot, which you can print or email.

Candidates: Don't see yourself here? Missed our invitations to participate? Contact dbeeman@fresnobee.com to be added.

Important note: Candidates' responses have not been edited except for clarity, language and libel. Candidates provide their own photographs and video. Candidates for non-partisan offices are listed as No Party Preference, regardless of party registration.

Fresno Unified School District Area 2

Fresno Bee stories about this raceFUSD superintendent a focus of school board election

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  • Candidate picture

    Elizabeth "Rosas" Jonasson
    (N)

  • Candidate picture

    Yuritzy Villasenor
    (N)

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Biographical Information

What is your position on Fresno Unified's use of lease-leaseback agreements for construction projects?

How are you preparing to enter the school district at a time when it is under federal investigation? How will you deal with the public's concern about these issues?

The achievement gap and truancy continue to vex Fresno Unified schools. How would you attempt to fix these issues?

Would you prioritize career technical education at Fresno Unified schools? How would you balance initiatives that promote college with programs that focus on vocational careers?

A group of business and education advocates are preparing a proposal to split Fresno Unified into two districts that they hope will get on the ballot in no more than three years. They argue Fresno Unified is too big and inefficient to make real progress on issues like improving graduation rates and closing the achievement gap. What is your position on this proposal?

Do you favor or oppose Proposition 55, which would extend by 12 years the temporary income tax increase enacted in 2012 to support schools and colleges?

Were you pleased with how district officials spent new Local Control Funding Formula dollars this past school year? How would you like to see the new dollars spent this year?

School districts across the state are adjusting to the new Common Core standards. Is the district doing enough to prepare teachers and students for the new standards? What, if anything, would you change about how schools transition to this new way of teaching?

In your opinion, what are the district's top three challenges? How would you address each of these issues?

Is technology in education important? Is the district doing enough to get devices into the hands of kids? If so, how would you help improve access to technology, especially for low-income or other at-risk students?

Why are you the best candidate to serve on the Fresno Unified school board? (Text or YouTube video.)

Age 34
Residence Fresno
Education Masters in Business Administration, California State University Fresno
Occupation Teacher/Director
Public service experience (Partial list of experience) Fresno County Measure C Citizen’s Oversight Committee member, Fresno County Council of Governments Transportation Technical Committee member, City of Fresno, District 1 Implementation Committee member, Central California Latina Network Board member, Parent Institute for Quality Education volunteer Junior Achievement Volunteer
Facebook/Social media https://www.facebook.com/jonassonrosas/
I support the procurement method of lowest responsible bidder.
We have to restore trust in Fresno Unified. The public has a right to know exactly how the district is spending their tax dollars. I am fully committed to an open and transparent process that involves plenty of opportunity for meaningful, ongoing engagement with the community and will make decisions with this feedback in mind. I will be available to meet with residents who have questions about the district and I will set up community listening and question and answer sessions.
This is an issue particularly acute in my Southeast Fresno district. Fresno Unified must do more to engage the parent and community collaboratively, to provide students with a respect for education and learning. We also need to track the progress of each individual student, providing intervention if needed with student, parents and staff working together to come up with a plan for success.
Career technical education is the top item on my agenda and vital for my district. Vocational education provides an option into the middle class. I do not believe it is an either/or proposition: we must prepare students for careers and college at the same time. Career-focused learning also stimulates creativity and makes learning more “real” to many students. Providing students with a vocational option in electrical work can lead to a career in the construction sector and/or a college diploma in electrical engineering. What we need to do is spark that initiative, motivate kids to stay in school and become productive members of society. The school, parent and student should work together to come up with the best path for each individual student.
Fresno Unified is able to provide many opportunities such as the School of the Arts at Roosevelt, or Duncan Polytechnical, that a smaller district would not be as able to provide. However, it is up to the residents of that area to decide via a democratic process.
I am in favor of Proposition 55, continuing the much needed revenue for our public schools.
I support greater local control of funding decisions, but we still have much work to do to ensure that the greatest amount of input from parents, teachers, students, and the community is taken into account and addressed. In speaking with residents of my district, I see a need for increased support services for our students, especially the most vulnerable ones due to socio-economic conditions and/or health reasons. We should be investing in campus safety officers, nurses and school psychologists to help students that don’t have support systems at home.
I will collaborate openly with the teachers to ensure they get the training and preparation they need to achieve the high standards we demand. I think more can be done to work towards this goal, for example, ensuring teacher have the professional development necessary to transition their curriculum. I also believe that parents play a crucial role in this transition and we need to engage them as well. For many years lessons were taught in a certain way and with this change parents feel frustrated and unable to help their kids with homework. We need to bridge this gap.
Career and Vocational Education I will represent one of the most impoverished districts in Fresno Unified and greater access to career and vocational education is critical to the revitalization of the Southeast Fresno community. I will advocate for increased funding for vocational education and partner with the community and businesses to provide greater opportunities for our students.

Investing in Our Students We need to ensure that our schools have the appropriate support staff they need to assist them in being successful and safe including, nurses, counselors, aides and appropriate security staff to protect the safety of our students. We need this support to provide a successful learning environment.

Increased Parent and Community Participation The parents play the most important role in the life of a student, and we must do more to ensure parents are part of the process. We must pull together the whole community, businesses, non-profits, faith based organizations and all community interests to come up with the best path forward for our students and encourage them on that path.
Many students in my area are poor and may not have the access to technology that more affluent students have, but they deserve the same opportunities. Our schools should provide technology that students can use to do their homework and lessons at school or at home. I will work with both the public and private sector to ensure our students have access to the technology and develop the technological skills they need to be successful in the modern world. A good example of expanding those opportunities is to increase our partnership with internet service companies to provide low-cost broadband internet access to underserved communities.
As a third generation teacher and volunteer in the classroom I understand first-hand the challenges our educational system faces and I have the experience, passion and fortitude to make change happen. I received my MBA from Fresno State and I have the honor of teaching students there. I am fluent in Spanish, allowing me to communicate with many District 2 residents. Having worked in government I understand how complex decision-making can get and the need for collaboration. I also understand how frustrating it can be to advocate for change from outside government. I have been an active member of the community, working to make Fresno a better place for our kids. I am passionate about education and my focus will be on the students and families of Fresno Unified. I will bring about a collaborative, transparent and accountable decision-making process to Fresno Unified and I promise to be available to listen and work through your concerns. I would be humbled to receive your vote.
Age 40
Residence Fresno
Family Single
Education Liberal Studies and Spanish B.A. Current Graduate Student in Community Leadership and Transformation at Fresno Pacific University
Occupation Teacher
Facebook/Social media facebook.com/yuritzyvillasenor
The lease-lease back agreements for the construction projects of Gaston Middle School are under federal investigation at this time. My position on this issue is if the district is responsible for these type of actives, they need to be transparent and resolute for our community. It is critical for the legal procedures to be followed and business ethics to be implemented in all matters of the district. In business negotiation when projects are contracted out it is usual procedure to have multiple bids to ensure the most appropriate economical bid. Also, having at least two or more options of design for a school construction are ideal in the choice of design.
It will be my responsibility to keep the district accountable for the decisions made in regards to fiscal responsibility. Board members and the public need to be informed of the amount of funding being used in the litigation process for this investigation. I will ensure that the public is informed and also that no other negotiations such as these are done during my term as trustee.
The partnerships between the schools and the parents is the first step towards solving the truancy problem in our schools and supporting our students. It is important to engage the parents in programs such as Opening Doors /Abriendo Puertas where it gives parents basic information on how they are the first teachers of their children. In addition, increasing support for students services such as social workers, counselors or psychologists who would work with the students to identify further causes of truancy. Studies have shown that student’s with consistent attendance increase their academic achievement.
Vocational programs can have a high academic component that prepares them for college and the 21st century work force. It is critical to provide a program that would equip the students with a vocational career while preparing them for a four year college degree. This could be achieved through the integration of vocational training within the a-g requirements for college. Vocational careers can be made available to all students as a resource for the them to have a skill set in supporting them through their college experience.
I would need further demographical information and data that would support the benefit of dividing the school district. I am interested in meeting with these business and education advocates to hear their perspective in this matter before stating my position to this proposal.
Yes, I support Proposition 55 because it will provide continuous funding for our schools.
I am pleased with the use of funding in the following areas: - English Learners - Teacher summer school based on their rate of pay - Counselors to expand restorative justice efforts - Expansion of Gifted and Talented Education

I am not pleased with the use of funding in the following area: -$250,000 for legal cost in the no-bid construction contracts

The new dollars spent this year: -Plan to support reading by the 3rd grade level -Increase access to technology and training -Increase Student Support Services nurses, social workers, psychologists -English Learners -Vocational and Career Tech. Education in all High School
I believe that Fresno Unified could be doing more to support our teachers and principals with the new Common Core State Standards.

The transition when adopting new standards or curriculum (such as the new reading curriculum, Wonders) needs to be done progressively in a three-year cycle to be introduced with ongoing training for new employees entering the district. Teachers need additional training to support them as they learn to implement the new standard. The training continues with additional local teachers sharing their experiences on how they are implementing the standards to have real life experience on how it is being implemented. The state gives the district a certain timeframe to fully adopt the new state standard. In the same way the district should allow their employees a timeframe to learn how to teach the new state standards.
The top three challenges in the district are Training, Technology, and Community Trust. Our educators need to be trained early on before expected to implement new state standards or curriculum. It is fundamental that teachers receive training and support with the information they need to teach our children. In order for us to request higher test scores we need to supply the students with the access to technology. We need to partner with local and non-local organization that are expert in technology to create a plan to bring computer access to our children. It will take time to regain the trust of our community. The improvement of our students education and the ethical accountability of our district will gradually regain community trust.
The new state testing is all computerized and our children need more access to technology weekly. All our children in all our schools need to have access to computers to prepare them for the current test demands and also for future jobs. There are many companies in the Silicon Valley that would be willing to partner with us to give access to computers to our students. I would start that discussion with these questions: What about contacting Mark Zuckerberg Facebook CEO and Dr. Priscilla Chan to ask if they are willing to support us with a plan to bring computer assess for our children? Can we partner with other outside of the Fresno Area? Can we work with Bitwise to bring more creative and innovate ways to have access to technology in our community? These are some ways we can start partnering with other organizations to help us improve in our access to technology.
In my experience as a teacher, I have seen the lack of the most basic needs for our students. As a principal for six year, I have had the opportunity to implement change that gave economic stability and regain community trust. I have been in education for 12 years working with students, parents, staff, administrators and community members. As a resident that grew up in southeast Fresno, I understand my community and their needs. I am aware that as a trustee, I am to bring accountability to our district leadership and propose change that will enable for our students to have the resources they need to learn and regain the confidence of the community. I am committed to a higher standard of education for our children of Fresno!