Ojai Unified School District Board Area 2 candidate: Rebecca Chandler

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Photo courtesy Rebecca Chandler
Rebecca Chandler


Voters in new Trustee Areas 2 and 4 will choose two Ojai Unified School District Board members Nov. 3. Since incumbent Thayne Whipple in Trustee Area 2 is not seeking re-election, the two vying for his seat are Rebecca Chandler and Jeffrey Starkweather.
1. Do you support Measure K? Why or why not?
The state of California has little to no options for schools to improve facilities. This means if we want to fix our facilities (some of which are over 100 years old), it is up to the community.
Not only do teachers need better facilities to teach students 21st century skills, but students need better facilities to learn in. This would allow much-needed modernizations to make our school facilities competitive with the rest of the county. 
2. Do you support the lease of the district office property? If so, what would you like to see there? 
The district office is in the heart of downtown Ojai. It is also an incredibly old building that is in need of repairs, which the district cannot afford. With such limited space in downtown Ojai, it would be nice to see something in that location that would bring more business to downtown and a space for families to congregate. What actually goes into that location would depend on what types of investors wanted to use the space. I would ensure that it was a place that supported our community values and stimulated our local economy.
3. Do you have any business interests in the district?
Currently, no, I do not have business dealings in Ojai Unified. Prior to running for the board in  2019-2020, I was hired to conduct online trainings during the crisis at a discounted rate. I am one of three experts in Ventura County who was capable of conducting the training. Teachers were in dire need of trainings and I stepped up to help them.


4. How should future district budget deficits be addressed?
Future board cuts should be addressed through stakeholder panels. Cuts should never be done in isolation. Therefore, all stakeholders — parents, teachers, students, faculty and staff — should be consulted on the impacts of such cuts to decide which are least likely to impact student learning outcomes. 
5. How should the district deal with declining enrollment?
The entire state of California is in declining enrollment. The best way to stop this is to make compelling programs that attract students. This can be done by improving facilities through Measure K, creating flexible options for families, making connections to industry with Career Education programs, and working with our unique community to bring life into our classes. Ojai is an attractive place to be and if our schools were truly reflective of our community, we would attract more students to our schools and combat declining enrollment.  
6. Do you support attracting interdistrict transfers to help address declining enrollment?
Ojai is already a District of Choice. I don’t anticipate this policy changing. However, surrounding districts are also in declining enrollment. 
7. Has distance learning in OUSD been effective thus far?
Distance learning was implemented in crisis. For 10 years, I taught online and I know quality online teaching is possible. However, attempting to train teachers and implement an online system while students are learning is never ideal. I believe that Ojai Unified made the best choice in an incredibly difficult time. I watched firsthand teachers work day and night to learn systems, build curriculum, and give everything they could to their students. Teachers and administration truly stepped up to do what was best for our students in a time that was less than ideal. I believe we are only going to see online learning improve as the entire system better understands how to deliver materials online. 
8. What is the role of a school board member?
The school board member’s role is to govern the superintendent by representing the community. Their duties consist of being responsive to the beliefs, values and priorities of the people of Ojai. Since I am a longtime resident of Ojai and an expert in education, my skills and understanding of the community will make me the best choice for this position.
9. Why should people vote for you?
I am completing my doctorate in education at the University of Southern California in education leadership. I am a credentialed teacher and worked in both live and online teaching for over a decade. I have brought trades unions to two other districts to get students apprenticeships upon graduation. I am currently the chief innovation officer for Ventura Unified School District, tasked with improving programs and making compelling programs. I know education from all levels. I am a mother of three sons one currently at Mira Monte, and another who graduated from Nordhoff. I love my community and want to use my expertise to support and grow our schools for all students. During this time of crisis, we need education experts on the board, people who can think creatively and understand the laws and regulations to improve the quality of education. I am that person. I became that person from dedicating my life to education.
10. If you have a candidate website, what is the address?
11. If you have a candidate email, what is the address?
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