Monterey County Office of Education
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Monterey County Office of Education
MCOE provides resources and support for the county’s 24 school districts, two community colleges and state university.
Total Revenue: $81,085,344 Total K-12 Schools: 124 Total Enrollment: 69,851 Average Class Size: 26.4 Student/Teacher Ratio: 21.1 to 1 Four-Year High School Dropout Rate: 6.7 percent Graduates with UC/CSU Required Courses: 32.5 percent Students Receiving Free or Reduced Lunches: 60.7 percent
Trustee Area 2
Vote for One
FERNANDO ROBERT ELIZONDO
Occupation: In 2004, I retired after 38 years in education – a career spanning classroom teacher, principal, central office administrator, county schools administrator and 14 years as a superintendent of schools.
Presently, CEO/President of Elizondo Educational Strategies, Inc. The firm consults with and trains school administrators and school boards throughout California.
Also serve as the executive director of the California Association of Latino Superintendents and Administrators.
What’s your previous experience with Monterey County schools?
Served as Superintendent of the Salinas Union High School District for eight years from 1996-2004 where we initiated a campaign that brought millions of dollars into the district and oversaw the building of new schools and modernizing 100 percent of our schools.
As superintendent of the Salinas Union High School District I worked closely with the county superintendent and the county school staff.
In which areas would you give Monterey County public school passing grades? Failing grades?
There are not any areas which should be given a failing grade, and, in fact passing grades can easily be given when addressing both the educational and housing needs of students. My experience has taught me the challenges our schools face demand complex answers and difficult decisions by proven leaders. Foremost, as superintendent, I interacted with teachers, support staff and administrators who work hard to improve education for all our students. In my experience as a superintendent of schools, I directly experienced educators and support staff who on a daily basis worked diligently to improve educational opportunities for students.
In every county in California, educators continually review and work to improve the teaching-learning cycle for all children. As a Monterey County Board of Education member, I will be committed in reviewing and seeking funds and other resources, which improve educational programs and staff development opportunities for all employees working in Monterey County schools.
What are the top two issues facing county schools?
Two high on my priority list are: Availability of resources; and strengthening the relationship with business community. Available resources are important ingredients in providing educational programs for Monterey County school districts. Therefore, I would be very active in securing additional funds to enhance resources for our students. I would work closely and maintain strong communication linkages with local and statewide policy makers.
An equally important issue is maintaining and strengthening a closer relationship between the education and the Monterey County business community. As a county, we continually address issues such as student and staff safety in our schools and communities, promoting nutrition and physical fitness and seeking available resources for the provision of education programs, which enhance learning. It is my strong belief that the education and business communities should and can collaborate much more effectively in crafting and supporting strategies to address these issues.
What issue flies under the radar of the current board or the public?
I believe adequate and modern school facilities are a growing issue in Monterey County. The need to address a growing student population in portions of our county will continue to strain existing school facilities. Additionally, the modernization of existing and aging school facilities will be a continuing challenge.
When I arrived at SUHSD our schools were old and unable to house the ever-increasing student population. In 2004 when I retired our district team was proud of both the new construction and the modernization of 100 percent of our remaining schools.
The Monterey County Board of Education and superintendent are strategically positioned in the county to provide leadership and be a strong voice for the education community in addressing the need for school facilities improvement.
What will you accomplish that your opponents cannot?
Energy will mark and best describe my tenure as a member of the Monterey County Board of Education. I will be committed in my role and tenure as a Monterey county trustee to being more visible and active in various community based and statewide associations. I’ll work tirelessly and team with fellow school board members in our county in lobbying for our fair share of resources with those in Sacramento and the State Department of Education.
What endorsements have you received, if any?
I have received the endorsement of the Monterey County Business Political Action Committee, an organization of county leaders in the business, agriculture and hospitality industries of our area. I have also been endorsed by over 125 individual education, business and community leaders. (A full list of those endorsing my candidacy may be viewed at www.VoteForFernando.com.)
What is your education-related background (work, volunteerism, education)?
I retired after serving 38 years in public education. During my career, I was a classroom teacher, school principal, central district office administrator, and county office administrator, and I have 14 years experience as a school district superintendent. I also served two terms as an elected member of the Ventura Community College Board of Trustees.
I’m a graduate of the California State College System. I received my Masters degree from Baylor University and Doctorate in education from the University of Southern California.
Throughout my career, I held memberships in Optimist International and Kiwanis, and since 1985 been active in Rotary International. Presently, I am a member of the Salinas Downtown Rotary Club.
In 2006-2007, I proudly served as a member of the Monterey County Criminal Grand Jury.
What other civic experience do you have?
My civic experience through the years includes memberships in the Kiwanis and Optimist International, and I am presently a member in the Salinas Downtown Rotary Club. I am also a member of the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce. Have made presentations and been a business sponsor of the of Commerce Leadership Salinas Program.
Should MCBOE advocate for healthier school lunches?
Yes, the county schools office can be a valuable resource to school districts in addressing the whole issue of nutrition. The county superintendent and the board can and should work with local superintendents and business entities in establishing strategies, which provide options for not only healthy food and education in nutrition but for physical fitness programs for our students. An excellent example is Healthy Eating Lifestyles Principals HELP established and coordinated through Mills Family Farms.
What is the one book that every school kid ought to read before graduating from high school?
I won’t identify the importance of any specific book, instead look at it more broadly by stressing the larger issue of literacy. I would support strategies that internalize both the joy and importance of reading.
I’m a strong supporter and advocate of the development of bilingual skills in our young people, which would include the learning a second language. That, in my mind, is more critical to our children’s long-term success in an era of globalization.
didn’t respond to the Weekly’s questionnaire.