Kim Trutane is a parent and school volunteer.
1 – What are the biggest challenges facing your School District and how will you tackle them?
Albany Unified is an excellent school district and our main challenge is to maintain that excellence. Our schools are overcrowded, and we can thank our community for passing school construction Bond Measures B & E in the June 2016 election to relieve overcrowding and improve seismic safety. Moving forward thoughtfully but promptly on the construction projects is the most efficacious way to address the overcrowding problem. Having an adequate number of classrooms for our growing school-aged population is fundamental to keeping class sizes small.
2 – Do you believe there are systemic problems with racial/sexual/gender-based or other discrimination in your district’s schools? How would you tackle them?
Our elementary schools actively teach socio-emotional learning to bolster a positive, nondiscriminatory atmosphere and coach kids on the practical skills necessary to get along with others in the classroom and on the playground. In their freshman year of high school, all students take the year-long course, Identity, Health, and Society, which reinforces acceptance of diversity in all areas. However, I realize that there is no place that is completely free of discrimination, and more can always be done.
3 – Do you believe the school-to-prison pipeline is operational in your School District and what will you do to close it down?
School-to-prison problems begin with exclusionary disciplinary policies that remove students from the school environment, decreasing instructional time, removing daily structure, and increasing opportunities to engage in criminal behavior. Studies have found that a high school dropout is much more likely to be incarcerated than youth with a high school diploma. Albany has a very low rate of suspensions and expulsions. These measures are used rarely, and carefully, to ensure the safety of all students.
The preferred way to avoid exclusionary discipline is to provide alternative routes to a high school degree that meet the needs of a broader range of students. AUSD offers a variety of programs, some in place now, and an exciting one in development. One is the award-winning Venture Program for building business, design, and retail knowledge; another is the Environmental Design, Science, Engineering, and Technology (EDSET) program. EDSET includes an integrated off-site internship program. The Design and Build program is new this year, and combines Computer-Aided Design (CAD) skills with Physics coursework. Students will spend one day a week at Laney College using Laney’s Fabrication Lab. AUSD received an 880 Career Pathways Trust grant, and staff is working on developing career-focused pathways in the areas of Information Communication, Technology/Digital Media, Engineering, and Biomedical utilizing the extensive course offerings at local community colleges. By establishing a high-school-to-community-college-to-career pathway, we can create a positive, instead of a negative, pipeline.
4 – Do you support having police officers on campus? If so, in what capacity?
Because of Albany’s small size, police are near at hand in case of need. Their response time and cooperative relationship with the schools has made it unnecessary to have an on-site School Resource Officer.
5 – What limits to students’ freedom of expression and privacy do you think are appropriate for public schools?
That’s an interesting question that drives a great deal of policy. Albany Unified’s mission states that we provide a safe, supportive, and collaborative environment. So expression that would reasonably make other students feel unsafe, unsupported, or excluded would not be sanctioned. Regarding student privacy, there was a change in the algorithm for producing student passwords for the AUSD network that was designed to reveal less student information. At the elementary level, students are instructed in basic online safety. In my experience, today’s teens are less concerned about protecting their privacy than perhaps they should be. I would welcome instruction at every school level on protecting one’s privacy in the digital age.
6 – What do you think the School District should do to offer support to homeless, foster and impoverished children and children coming from violent homes?
The California Homeless Youth Project stated that California has the largest homeless student population in the country; about 4 percent of California students are homeless (twice the national average). Children that enroll in Albany schools through the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act are given a great deal of support. AUSD must specifically define these supports in the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), and track measures of progress. Although the numbers of homeless, foster, and low income children are not large in Albany, these populations are monitored and assisted in various ways, through nutrition services, access to psychological services, and English Language Learning programs for students with language needs.
Children living at University of California at Berkeley University Village (located in Albany) are a valued part of our school community. Although some of these children may currently qualify as low income while their parent(s) are in school, these children definitely come from home environments that value education highly. The diversity that these students bring into AUSD is a gift and an opportunity for our district. It is important not to stereotype populations under general categories such as “low socio-economic status”.
7 – Given the explosion of autism diagnoses, what is your plan to make sure children and their parents are getting the proper support?
California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office 2013 Overview of Special Education in California states that roughly one in ten public school students receive some special ed services. Students with diagnosed autism comprised about 10% of students with disabilities in the 2011-12 school year, and about 1% of the total K-12 population. Many regulations govern the implementation of all the different forms of special assistance students with disabilities receive. I would be interested to hear from autistic students and their parents what kind of support they need from the district.
8 – What should the District do to tackle problems of truancy?
As a Board Trustee, I would support policies that support working directly with the student and their family to determine the cause of the truancy problem. The student may be in need of services that the district already provides, such as alternative education programs or psychological counseling.
9 – Are you running as a Berniecrat?
No, I am running just as a local concerned and involved parent.