Q&A with Paso Robles School Board Candidate Tim Gearhart
Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of Q&A’s for all candidates running for Paso Robles School Board.
Q&A with Paso Robles School Board Candidate Incumbent Tim Gearhart
What motivates you to become a school board member?
My family has lived in Paso Robles for 33 years, and I’m proud of my community. I’ve taught for 36 years, 21 years here in Paso Robles, and becoming a school board trustee was the next step in my service to my city. I want to continue to “give back” to the school district that educated and graduated my three children. I want to continue the improvements we’ve begun for our students, their families, and the community.
What attributes are essential for successful school board members?
Attributes for a successful school board trustee included patience, willingness to do research including an average of sixty pages of material for each meeting, willingness to put the welfare of our students before any personal agendas or political beliefs, honesty and integrity, and the ability to work with others successfully.
What is your vision for education in the community?
My vision for education is to prepare our students for college, career, and community. We will prepare ALL students for success in whatever field they choose. They are the hope and future of our nation, and I hold this responsibility as being critically important. I’ve worked on a system to find and support students with behavioral or academic problems early in their education and to give them the extra support they need to be successful. Trustees are to develop and support policies and procedures to ensure student success.
How does the school board decide what is important?
Our present school board is composed of many talented people with experiences that help them differentiate what is or is not important. District administration is there to help identify legal issues that we must address, and offer academic direction for our fourteen grade levels. We turn to our fiscal experts to keep the district solvent. The parents and community give feedback about their students and programs, citing which seem to be working and those that are not. This district is one with the community, and we create excellence and solve problems together.
What is your education background?
My educational background includes a BA from UCSB, a Master’s Degree in Education, Elementary and Secondary Education credentials. a CLAD certificate, and advanced studies in Special Education. I am a South Coast Writing Project Fellow based in UCSB and have given 28 in-services in five districts on writing skills across the curriculum. I’m presently tutoring students with unique educational problems besides my school board responsibilities.
Do you represent the school system or the community?
Although I’m actively involved in service groups like Kiwanis, Paso Cares and youth soccer, I was elected to work and represent Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, it’s students, parents, and its employees. I do not allow my political views, personal agendas, religion or any other personal factor to interfere with my sworn duty to this district. If I had chosen to represent the community, I would have run for a City Council position. My expertise lies in the field of education.
What have you accomplished in regards to school-related situations that make you a good candidate?
I respond to the needs of the students, parents, and employees of the district. Right now, safety is a critical concern and I’ve been supporting actions designed to support student and staff safety at all of the school sites. This includes safety from external threats and internal issues that affect our students. Some student safety issues include actively stopping bullying, offering mental health services through a health and support program with access for students and their families. Fiscal safety is critical to the district’s ability to educate our kids, so that’s another area of attention. I’ve been actively involved in all budgets and supporting “deep auditing” of the district, uncovering budget problems that are now rectified. I’ve also supported visual and performing arts programs across the district, which includes art, drama, dance, and music in all school sites. Third through fifth grades now get free sports activities after school at all elementary schools. I’ve established a chess program across the district as well.
Can you comment on recent disciplinary issues within the school district, and how would you resolve them?
As a retired teacher, I certainly know how disciplinary issues can affect learning in a classroom The high school teachers were very concerned about these issues and brought it to the board’s and administration’s attention. In response, we’ve met often with the teacher representatives and, together, worked out changes in the disciplinary programs at all cites. For the older students, I’ve supported a “Community School” that is designed to help redirect “problem students” in a supportive, well structured off-campus school, this in response to shared teacher concerns. We have a firm disciplinary process, but also we have a positive support program designed to foster continued good behaviors. It works!
What are some of the issues facing PRJUSD?
All California school districts have issues! Ours include budget concerns, safety issues, academic procedures that guarantee equitable education to all students, and programs to support our English learners, lower socioeconomic kids and more support for our special educational students.