Q&A with Caitlin Vierra, candidate for Paso Robles School Board
Questions and answers with Caitlin Vierra
Editor’s note: The Paso Robles Daily News invited all candidates running for the board of trustees of the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District to participate in a Q&A to help inform local voters. We will be running them this week as we receive them.
Why are you running for trustee?
I am running to give back to our community. I see a need within our district for having more diversity of thought within our board and I can provide that while representing our taxpayers and our teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders. I listen with an open mind and value honesty and respect, and I look forward to the opportunity to use my skill set to serve the community.
What is the school district is currently doing well, and what would you like to see improve?
There has been a huge improvement in the distance learning program for the fall compared to the spring. This is an unprecedented situation and it’s commendable to everyone involved for the time and effort it takes to sustain distance learning.
As for improvement, I would like to see the board actually address public comment. Often time the comments of concerned parents and community members are glossed over and I think there should be a more formal process for recognition of their concerns.
What is your position on re-opening classrooms and protecting students from COVID-19?
First, we need to continue to have options as we phase back into on-campus learning. Some parents will need to have students back and some will remain in distance or homeschool, and those options need to be available.
For students transitioning back, the only way we can safely reopen is if we take mandated health guidelines seriously. Our best chance is to keep our students and their teachers in cohorts all day and prevent the mixing of those groups with detailed school day scheduling. This will minimize the need for mass quarantining of student populations when people become infected. The smaller the groups the fewer people need to be quarantined. It will be highly disruptive to our students, teachers, and parents to throw them back and forth between on-campus and distance learning with frequent two week quarantine periods.
How can the school district better serve students and meet its budget responsibilities?
I believe it is really important to have a plan on how to target our spending to close income gaps for our underserved populations before we spend our money, and we need to know how to measure if it’s working as expected. This way we can make continual improvement towards our most important goals of giving all students an equitable education.
Too often we continue to fund programs that have little success against our goals which is just wasteful. As a district, we need a priority list of what our goals are and spend down that list in order. Yes, some things will be de-prioritized until we are in a sustainable financial position but we can not continue to spend money with no return and expect all our students to thrive.
Is there anything else you would like voters to know about your candidacy?
I value gathering input and hope that the community will continue to call in to the board meetings and share their support or concern. Change happens by action and voting is just the first step towards seeing the change we all need. I encourage you all to continue to write in and express your wants and needs as we head into 2021! If I’m elected I will look forward to gathering community feedback and brining that back to the board meetings.
About Caitlin Vierra
Caitlin Vierra has an engineering degree from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont. She currently works in Paso Robles as a manufacturing quality manager. She and her husband have an elementary-aged distance learner and two toddlers who will grow up in this district. She is endorsed by the Paso Robles Public Educators. See more on her website at www.caitlinvierra.com.