Everything South City would like to extend our thanks to Rick Ochsenhirt as he shares more information on why he is running for School Board and what he would bring to the table if elected. There are 3 open seats on the School Board. Please remember to vote in this November election.
Everything South City Questions for SSFUSD Board Candidates
1. Do you have, or have you had, children that attend(ed) our SSF public schools? If yes, what was the best experience your child(ren) carried with them after that course/teacher/experience?
Public education is not for the benefit of students nor is it for the benefit of parents. Public education exists for the benefit of social order. I’ll pay taxes to school although I have no children because I don’t want to live in a country with uneducated people. That statement has been true since the beginning of organized society. I believe the experiences provide by an educational institute are the foundation for a child’s skills and memories of his/her school years leading into adulthood
I want to serve as a school board trustee which I believe is a position of honor and respect given to someone who has the desire and commitment to serve. I’ve had the opportunity to serve our community for the past 17 years in a variety of ways and positions. I would like to continue my involvement with the school district by becoming a policy maker. I’ve been a member of two school bond oversight committees starting in 1998. I’ve learned a lot of the inner workings on how bonds benefit our schools physically with updated facilities. I’ve developed an understanding of the financial and budget analysis that are extremely important to the cohesive stream of construction projects. Over my many years of serving the school district, I’ve visited all our school sites and have seen the improvements allowed by these bond measures. I must say that it is very impressive and our students are reaping the benefits. I believe the oversight committee has and will continue to do the good work they have been assigned by the trustees.
2. Why should the community at large vote in this election for SSFUSD Board members?
I believe the community has a very important motive to be involved with voting for our school board trustees. I believe our citizens need to consider each candidate’s motives and agendas that they bring into the campaign. I have spent over 17 years serving my community in numerous roles: appointed positions, several service clubs, fraternal organizations, as a business owner(realtor), chamber of commerce, volunteer, two school bond oversight committees, my All Souls community and a good neighbor. In all these endeavors, my fellow members saw the leadership ability I processed and elected me to serve as an officer up to and including the presidency.
I have run campaigns in the past. I believe that experience will help me immensely in this coming campaign. I’ve campaigned for ballot measures in SSF through the years: Costco club, the card club, tax increases and two bond measures. I believe the voters will see in me as I walk their neighborhoods and engage with them, that I have the experiences to fulfill the office of trustee. They will then make their decision who they want to vote into the office of school board. I believe they will be choosing a candidate to represent them whose integrity, locality and work ethics are unchallengeable. I hold these morals as the soul of my life’s faith.
3. What is your number 1 concern about our schools and what is your plan of action to address this?
My goals will be many as a school board trustee. I believe the first and possibly the most important goal I will want to reach is my service to the parents of the children of the school district. They are the decision makers. They bring the children to our schools. I believe they are the most important group to concentrate our efforts to fulfill their wants and needs. Parents will let us know if we are doing the job of setting policies that provide a safe and sound environment for their children in order to receive a first class education. I believe I have this ability to reach this goal as a school board trustee.
My second goal involves the outreach to other stakeholders in our community. I want to see local community leaders and service groups become part of our discussions. I need to see collaborations take place between these groups. In the past the SSF chamber of commerce had an education committee that had school district representation serving on it. I would like to see this type of involvement
My third goal will be to encourage biotech companies to collaborate with the district. We currently have nearly 100 bio businesses east of highway 101. Genetech has taken the lead on this by providing a mentoring program that allows students to attend classes on Genetech’s campus.
My fourth goal will be helping to implement an exciting new program from the SMC office of education called the “Big Lift”. Its mission is to adopt an overall goal of increasing countywide reading proficiency of third grade students.
My fifth goal is now that common core is the standard, testing procedures must be relevant to the new curriculum. The district has done some preliminary testing (practice) of the students, but the analysis of the tests and the future pathway of testing must be completed.
4. Our community has been upset over the lack of retention of good teachers and principals. What do you see as the problem and how would you rectify that?
The question of what do we do with the issue of lack of retention of good teachers and principals, is one that all school districts must deal with in the course of doing business. The common elements are pay, benefits, school environment, administration, board policies, union leadership, flex time, commute, housing, children, parents and the community. All of these factors will come into play for each teacher’s decision on employment and maybe others.
I believe one of the most important objectives that the school board needs to recognize is provide a prevailing wage that is competitive with surrounding schools. If dollars aren’t available then some other incentive must be given to the employee to match the loss in salary. I believe it time to look at areas where we can build teacher’s housing such as on our surplus property, offering them below market pricing. One other issue that I want to stand up to is teacher tenure. Teacher tenure allows for the teacher who has earned this status to have “due process”. Due process assures the teacher can speak up when a student or parent needs help with an issue without the pressure of retaliation or termination. I believe it also allows the teacher time to plan their lessons to offer a better education for the students. I believe talk of bad teachers is not correct. The “bad” teachers have been let down by the lack of professional development offered to them or they haven’t received the best instructions. I don’t believe in the bad teacher argument. Let’s give these teachers a new method of less memorization and more cognitive thinking.
5. What is the #1 thing that makes you best qualified for this position on our School Board?
For someone like myself, it isn’t easy choosing the most significant contribution that I have provided to our community. My service has been given in so many ways, I’ll list a few:
Eleven years as a planning commissioner: new housing with a requirement of 25% of units are priced below market rate, higher housing density located around El Camino corridor that has transit instead of individual car drivers, developing the bio industries east of 101 bring jobs to SSF, bringing mixed use of retail and housing together, developing the city by providing zoning updates every five years to allow for economical changes.
Four years as a park and recreation commissioner: two ribbon cuttings of new parks paid for by funds from housing developers, Alto Loma and Avalon parks. Also the fire station at Terra Bay paid for from fees collected from developers.
Twelve years as a board member of the chamber of commerce: examples of events for SSF residents; Santa comes to town, Taste of SSF, Genetech comes to town, Annual students scholarship awards, Shop locally campaign, Local business mixers and the Annual awards and installation dinner.
Eight years on two different school bond oversight committees: the first in 1998, we installed the internet and phones to all classrooms, provided ADA restrooms and added portables; the second in 2011and myself as chairperson, we went to solar power for energy saving at all school sites, all portables will be replaced and new classroom modules are being built., two campuses Buri Buri and Martin are being rebuilt. What an improvement!
I can go on and on, but I will finish with what I truly believe has been my greatest accomplishment for the community. The issue came to me as a planning commissioner under the law of “land use”. As a city council appointed officer, I’m committed to uphold my responsibility to all.
The issue before me was to vote on the planned parenthood health clinic locating on grand ave. My own religious beliefs were on the line and especially because my church of All Souls filed against the proposal. My vote cost me personally and profusely in that I was relieved of my duties within the church, but as I communicated to my pastor, I would not have my vote abstained and I voted yes in the belief of separation of church and state as the US constitution’s fathers wrote it. Health care can now be accessed by our needing citizens who otherwise would go without care. It was not about abortion but health care for all and land use.
6. There has been much controversy over the electives being offered a tour High Schools. What courses do you believe to be the most beneficial to our students?
I believe you must start with the budget process, a living breathing document that needs constant attention and adjustments. When one works on a current budget, you need to examine the previous ones. I look to see if revenues are stable or do we need to look for other resources to bring more monies into it. Also, the other side of the budget is expenses. I want to examine programs to see if and how they are producing the desired results. I’m concern when expenses are cut without true regards to their worth. It is important to our school budget for the board to understand what the governor and legislators are going to do with the education budget for the state. Very soon our school district will change from basic aid school to ADA. Our budget will need to reflect this change. We have just adopted our budget under the LCAP from the state’s demand of the new LCFF program.
When we held the workshops with the community during the LCAP process, we heard them say that they want more attention and time spent on classes surrounding the arts. We heard band, auto mechanics, wood shop, dance, painting and public speaking. We also heard that more advanced classes and high tech instruction is needed to be offered. I believe one must partner with all agencies and stakeholders to create a profound educational environment for our students. I want our leaders to engage with our fellow peers at each level. I want our advocates to join like groups and share ideas and solutions to our common obstacles. Also, we need to lobby these groups for resources and laws protecting our concerns and abilities to educate our students at the highest level.
7. Due to limited space, Candidate Statements may not express all that you would like our community to know about you and your goals.What else would you offer? What makes your platform different from the other candidates?
What makes my platform different from the other candidates? In one word, I would say experience. My experience in SSF has a range that is so engrossing. I can speak on numerous issues past and present. All of these years of participating in local government allowed me to develop skills such as leadership, accountability, collaboration, listening and determination. I believe in our school district that all employees and educators treated with respect and prioritized as our most important resource we have to provide an exceptional education for our students. I want to provide the opportunity for them to succeed at their profession by providing enhanced professional development classes. I will fight to keep teacher tenure untouched by our state legislators by asking support from our advocates and lobbyists in Sacramento.
For more information visit on Rick’s campaign CLICK HERE
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org cell 415-602-446