School Board Candidates Respond to Community Questions

All five candidates were invited to respond and three accepted the offer. Below are their responses to 5 general questions written by the Tartan Shield and reflecting the community concerns reflected in a Tartan Shield community form. The responses are unedited by the Tartan Shield and are the candidates own written responses.


To read the candidates' responses to a personal question from the community or to read "A Letter from the Editor" concerning this project, please visit the third issue of the Tartan Shield for 2022-23 school year.


The general questions are as follows:

Question 1: Considering that there has been a turnover in administration throughout GUSD, how do you plan to respond?

Question 2: How will you ensure that voices not heard at board meetings are valued in the decision-making process? For example, students, parents/families with limited English proficiency, and others.

Question 3: How do you plan to bridge the gap between the older generation and newer generation (different values, different perspectives, different life experiences)?

Question 4: How do you plan to approach the superintendent about learning loss within our schools?

Question 5: Given the declining enrollment in GUSD and throughout California, there is a resulting decline in money per student. Some of you have proposed to improve facilities, technology, staff development/training, etc. So, how do you plan to fund these improvements? What is your strategy regarding budget?




Question 1: Considering that there has been a turnover in administration throughout GUSD, how do you plan to respond?


Zondra Borg:

"Fact: The School Board has one employee, the Superintendent. Much of the turnover in GUSD total was due to the Board offering generous retirement packages, since GUSD was overstaffed - this was something that had to be addressed, and saved the district $1 million dollars annually. This savings also allowed GUSD to give teachers and staff one of the largest pay raises they had received in some time. There are nine Principals in GUSD. Several former site leaders are enjoying retirement and some have been promoted to district-level positions and are serving all students. In the past three years, GUSD has had the opportunity to hire six new Principals. And, anytime GUSD has posted a new position, we receive a high quantity of qualified applications for these positions. The current new Administrative staff completed a rigorous application process by site staff, parents and district administration. The Superintendent makes the final decision on hiring administrators and is always making decisions based on GUSD district goals and the best fit for the site. Continuous professional development, mentoring and support is provided to all new staff."


Gary Clifford:

"My plan is to be a stabilizing force that creates an environment for transparency and open communications. Working with others I will help create a dynamic work environment that will not only strengthen current employees’ relationships with the district, but will have others seek employment in Glendora."






Monica Garcia:

"The board has several important responsibilities, one of them being the hiring of our Superintendent. As a parent and volunteer, I have seen first hand how an administrator not only leads the school district or school site, but they set the tone that affects all aspects of school life for our students, teachers and staff. I can not make any decisions or assessments from where I sit today, but as a board member it will be my intention to fully assess the current situation for

GUSD. I would like to take time to evaluate our interim-superintendent, and listen to the recommendations of the consulting group. I will be diligent about hiring a Superintendent that is qualified and understands the values of our community. Someone who is willing to do the work needed to ensure our district is continuing to grow while preparing ALL students for success in

their post high school lives. Hiring a Superintendent that meets these requirements will help ensure that our district is working as a team towards a common goal of “equipping our students with knowledge, skills, and character to succeed in college, career, and life in an ever-changing global society” (GUSD Mission)."



Question 2: How will you ensure that voices not heard at board meetings are valued in the decision-making process? For example, students, parents/families with limited English proficiency, and others.


Zondra Borg:

"For parents and families of English Learners (EL), there are committees called ELAC (English Learner Advisory Committee) held at each of the sites for advising the principal and staff in the development of a site plan for English learners and submitting the plan to the School Site Council for consideration of inclusion in the School Plan for Student Achievement, sharing the importance of students’ regular attendance at school and parents' input on the curriculum needs of their EL students. This is a way for families to have a say in their students' educational experience.


There is also a DELAC (District English Learner Advisory Committee) comprised of parents, staff, and community members designated to advise district officials on English learner programs and services. GUSD now has translating services available to families via their phones. Translators are always provided for such meetings along with translated copies of meeting notifications.


All parents are invited to attend school and district meetings such as School Board meetings, School Site Council, PTA, various booster clubs, Parent Conferences and daily communication with teachers. Translators can be arranged for their attendance as well. There are also ways that parents can be in touch with student progress via Aries, Parent Square, site and district websites. Parents are also encouraged to look over daily assignments for accuracy and graded work and assessments to follow their student's progress."


Gary Clifford:

"My responsibility is to create a platform for all voices to be heard, and the ideas expressed be reviewed and considered in the district’s decision-making process. These include voices from our community, parents, businesses, employees, vendors, and students and will include bilingual and multilingual solutions as needed."





Monica Garcia:

"I would love to see more community engagement at the board meetings. We all know that when everyone has a voice, and everyone can be heard, we can best work together to tackle challenges and create a district that gives every student the tools they need to succeed. I also understand that attending evening meetings is not something that many parents have the ability to do. With that said, I have thought of a few ways the school board can engage these voices that have historically not been heard at school board meetings.


  • I would like to see the Board put together a “Board Update” to be included in the District newsletter. This would provide quick updates on things the board has been working on, significant actions that were taken during closed sessions and public meetings, and include a way for parents to follow up and engage with Board Members should they have questions or concerns.


  • As a Board Member, I will be intentional about meeting with groups that have historically been underrepresented at our board meetings. I have had the opportunity to meet with many of our parents during my campaign and have listened to their concerns. Many of these conversations have been in Spanish (of which I am fluent) and in Mandarin/Cantonese (thanks to my volunteer who has helped with translation). I would like to recruit volunteers who would be willing to meet with these groups, in their native language, to discuss or share with the Board what resources or assistance they may need. Same applies to our students, they should always have a seat at the table and their voice should always be heard. We need to meet these stakeholders where they are to help facilitate their participation."



Question 3: How do you plan to bridge the gap between the older generation and newer generation (different values, different perspectives, different life experiences)?


Zondra Borg:

"Bridging the generational gap is about many things other than what makes us different. It is about being open to learning and understanding why these differences exist. It is about changing the mindset for which we were traditionally taught or feel and exploring new ways to communicate with others.


We are all faced with the task to leverage our differences in a way that makes each person around us successful. This requires the core skills of patience, listening with respect, asking to learn vs telling a person what to do, compromise, adaptability, admitting when one may need help, and above all learning how to be flexible in your style to not treat others the way you would want to be treated but to treat others the way they would want to be treated. I try to never forget that I was once a person in school without years of life experience and as I said, listen to learn and understand. As members of the “older generation,” remembering that our perspective on life is very different from the “newer generation” and just listening to understand helps so much and builds respect and relationships."


Gary Clifford:

"Our community respects all generations, values, and perspectives. While serving as a GUSD Board member it is my responsibility to encapsulate all of the aforementioned into the best solution while solving opportunities. My advisory team will represent the diversity of our community.  This multifaceted approach will be woven into decision-making that will enrich our organization."





Monica Garcia:

"Educating our community on our successes and challenges as a district is one of the ways I believe we can help bridge the gap. As part of my campaign, I have gone door-to-door and I have met many community members who no longer have school aged children in the district. I find that often they are uninformed or have received incorrect information second-hand about our schools. I would like to see a multi-pronged collaboration between our schools, city, library and senior center to provide our residents with community-wide updates. Our older residents, which make up a high percentage of the voting population, need to be made aware of the needs and challenges our schools are currently facing. In order to bridge that divide, we need to be intentional about sharing this information, and getting ahead of misinformation, with them in a way that is accessible. I also believe it is imperative that we create more opportunities for our students to tell us exactly what they would like to see more of and for our students to be an active part of the multi-pronged community education efforts."



Question 4: How do you plan to approach the superintendent about learning loss within our schools?


Zondra Borg:

"Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports (MTSS) is a program already in effect to support the whole student. It means supporting all students in three areas,

1) academic, 2) mental health 3) behavior, using support and resources and meeting students where they are. This process involves support from all staff including administration, counselors and teachers. Analyzing data and making data-based decisions on learning loss, daily assignments and assessments will make a difference in students’ educational experience. Students that do not require this program will have opportunities for enrichment. At the recent October Professional Development, the entire certificated staff was engaged by a key-note speaker and break-out sessions for training on MTSS, including the whole student and how to mitigate learning loss and improve student outcomes. There were other options for staff on this day, but the focus was on Multi-Tiered Systems of Supports. Following the data will be one way for teachers and administrators to gather evidence of progress towards mitigating learning loss. The School Board has asked for timely ongoing reports on MTSS and student outcomes."


Gary Clifford:

"Districts where schools stayed remote longer, experienced more significant learning loss. I will work with our team and the superintendent to put objectives in place to recover from learning loss, and then move towards exceeding our previous years’ goals. Documenting where we are, what objectives our

Superintendent will put in place, and then checking and measuring those results, will be the key to success."




Monica Garcia:

"As is always the case, our budget needs to be considered when making these recommendations, but I would like to see more support offered for our teachers. I would like for our teachers to be able to recommend students for intervention based on the learning loss they are seeing every day in their classrooms as early as possible. The sooner we can identify these needs and intervene, the better our students will be able to rebound and meet their grade-level benchmarks. I would like to see the multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) fully implemented as soon as possible and have established intervention support teams at every school site. In addition, I would like to see our district applying for grants that will provide additional funding sources for these types of programs to be implemented and established long term.



Question 5: Given the declining enrollment in GUSD and throughout California, there is a resulting decline in money per student. Some of you have proposed to improve facilities, technology, staff development/training, etc. So, how do you plan to fund these improvements? What is your strategy regarding budget?


Zondra Borg:

"Fact: 80 - 85% of any school district’s budget is spent on salaries and benefits of employees, certificated (teachers) and classified (all others). GUSD’s annual budget is approximately $85 million dollars. This means that GUSD has between 15 and 20% of its annual budget to cover all other expenditures including those mandated (required by law or Education Code), supplies, utilities, repairs, and daily maintenance of facilities and anything else deemed necessary for serving students.


With declining enrollment, a very concerning issue, the district only receives funding for the number of students enrolled in the district. Facilities, teachers and classified employees are dependent on having funds to pay their salaries and benefits. It is important for administration to keep a close eye on staffing (staffing control) so as not to exceed the number of all staff that are needed compared to the number of students in the district. The same goes for facilities, GUSD needs to keep facilities filled with students.


The Board of Education (School Board) has given direction to the Superintendent to explore ways to bring unique programing to this district in order to attract new students to GUSD to help with declining enrollment and bring innovative programing to current GUSD students. The three programs being considered are:

1) Dual-Language Immersion beginning at an elementary site in 2022-2023.

2) a partnership with Garner-Holt for a mobile lab introducing animatronics to several elementary schools. This program has endless possibilities in the areas of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math).

3) An aviation program at Glendora High School through San Gabriel Valley ROP and Career Tech Ed of GUSD. Courses are offered from credentialed teachers where aviation and related areas of aviation are taught with the possibility for a student to graduate with a certificate with ground work hours for becoming a pilot or other careers in aviation.


These three creative and very desirable programs will hopefully attract new students to GUSD and serve students and families already attending while keeping classrooms in use. All three also have the possibility to grow each year by adding another grade level yearly, with the end result of having these programs at all grade levels and sites in the future.


As far as facilities, ultimately a bond issue will need to be brought to the voters of Glendora as the work needed to be done is in the millions of dollars and the current funding from the state will not cover these expenses. In the meantime, GUSD will continue to maintain and repair systems that are outdated and continue to communicate the facilities needs to the public in hopes of passing a bond in the future."


Gary Clifford:

"No current GUSD Board member has addressed declining enrollment over all of these years. As a business executive and long-time community leader I will work with all of our outside agencies, local community, and the Superintendent to create a balanced budget. This means challenging traditional budget decisions and making the best decision. The district has valuable assets that could be used in a more efficient manner than they are currently. Once elected and seated as a board member, I will use my budgetary expertise and create an arena that will allow improvements in facilities, technologies, and training. A great example of this is the time I spent on the Glendora City Council where we made significant civic improvements during tough economic times, reengineered city departments, and created cash reserves without raising taxes."


Monica Garcia:

"This is the BIG question. First and foremost, I would sit down with Mrs. Tracey Vakcar, Assistant Superintendent, to learn more details about how our current budget is allocated and how we can stretch those dollars to go further for our students. We have big problems to solve and very little money to work with; this demands creative problem solving. We need to find creative solutions to help mitigate the declining enrollment- some of which are already in the works, like a

Dual-Immersion program, and offering robotics classes to attract new students to the District. I would like to work with Dr. Kelsen and Ms. Vackar to make sure we are doing everything we can to tap into Grants that can assist in funding some of the staff development/training and technology needs. With regards to our facilities, this will take a community effort. We have not passed a school bond in 17 years. If we are serious about wanting to have a #1 district and understand that our schools are the main reason people move to Glendora then we, as a community, may need to invest in our schools through a bond."









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