Community Panel offers seed funding to two WCCUSD School Board candidates

WCCUSD School Board candidate Micahel Gonzales.
WATCH: Full candidate interviews, and explore evaluation criteria, panelist bios, and details of the 2018 Community Panel process

Two candidates in this year’s WCCUSD School Board race have have been offered* funding from the 2018 Community Panel convened by Education Matters.

Candidates Michael Gonzales and Carlos Taboada both earned enough panelist votes to qualify for seed funding they can use to continue their school board campaigns.

Gonzales, a first-time candidate, received the strongest support from the panel, garnering “yes” votes from more than 75% of the panelists. In doing so, he qualified for $10,000 in campaign seed funds.

Top: Community Panel interviews Patricio Dujan. Above: Candidate Carlos Taboada addresses the panel.

With more than 60% of panelist votes in his favor, Taboada qualified for $5,000 in seed funding. Taboada ran for WCCUSD School Board in 2016, but did not participate in the Education Matters seed funding process that year. 

The ten-member Community Panel voted on each of the four candidates who chose to participate in this year’s seed funding process. Participating candidates included Gonzales, Taboada, Patricio Dujan, and incumbent Liz Block. Other school board candidates either entered the race after the deadline to join in the seed funding process, or chose not to participate.

 Community Panel vote determines seed funding awards

The Education Matters seed funding process is unique to WCCUSD. It is specifically designed to empower community stakeholders with a chance to help any candidate launch a viable campaign. Through their participation on the panel, a broad cross-section of parents, educators, and community advocates convened to interview candidates and decide which to fund.

The 2018 Education Matters Community Panel (top row, from left): Katherine Acosta-Verspraskus, Ron Shaw, Daniela Felix, Sarah La Due, Scottie Smith, (bottom row, from left) Ada Bustamante, Ivy Winston, Tana Monteiro, Derek Suring, and Tamisha Walker.

“Seed funding can be a powerful force to enable a candidate to make direct contact with voters,” said veteran teacher Sarah La Due.

“I am proud to be a union member and to teach at a district school, and I wanted to make sure that the interests of our students, families, teachers, and communities are heard,” La Due said.

La Due was one of five returning panelists who served in the role during the 2016 election cycle. Five other community members were new additions to the panel this year.

First-time panelist Ivy Winston engaged candidates on a range of issues during the interview sessions.

“I was looking for someone that can function on an executive level that knows our community, that knows our district, in terms of where our greatest deficiencies lie, [and] with some type of solution,” Winston said.

“We need somebody that knows about policies, is more insightful, [and] that can close the achievement gaps for all kids that are struggling.”

Detailed process informed rich deliberations

To make their seed funding determinations, the panelists reviewed detailed questionnaire responses from each participating candidate before their in-person interview. During each 40-minute interview, the panelists asked each candidate pre-drafted questions based on their questionnaire responses, and follow up questions on various topics. 

Education Matters Executive Director Jason Singer reviews the candidate rubric with panelists prior to candidate interviews.

Following the interview sessions, panelists used a detailed scoring rubric to evaluate each candidate’s strengths across five categories:

  • Educational Knowledge & Experience
  • Commitment to Educational Equity & Excellence
  • Bold, Responsive, & Solutions-Oriented Leadership
  • Understanding of the School Board’s Role & Impact on Student Achievement

  • Financial Leadership & Stewardship

The panelists’ composite scores on the rubric were displayed during a 20-minute deliberation, after which each cast a single yes or no vote to determine whether to award seed funding.

“I really appreciate the efforts that EM undertook to make sure the panel was empowered to discuss freely and come to its own conclusions, independent to those that EM itself might hold,” said first-time panelist Derek Suring.

Panel’s decision is not an EM endorsement

The seed funding process is not an official Education Matters endorsement.

Education Matters will evaluate and may engage the complete list of active WCCUSD school board candidates in the coming weeks. With additional input from the Community Panel, along with data and information about every active candidate’s qualifications, Education Matters will determine whether to endorse any of the candidates vying for a school board seat in the November election.


*UPDATE: Candidate Carlos Taboada first accpeted, then later declined, the $5,000 campaign seed funding offered by the Community Panel. 

WATCH: Complete candidate interviews

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