Jeff Kingsberg, Temecula Valley Educators Association
Temecula Valley Unified School District residents have an opportunity to make a change for the better this fall. Trustees are to be elected in Districts 1, 4 and 5.
The TVUSD governing board has an important obligation as an oversight body. Elected by the community, they provide a critical check and balance against the passions of the TVUSD executive cabinet. The currently composed TVUSD governing board has fallen short in meeting this obligation since the COVID-19 period fell upon California schools in March. The board seems to lack confidence and cohesiveness as a group and appears indecisive. Meetings have lingered on inefficiently, often into the four to five- hour range. Board member responses to staff reports center around laudatory comments for the fact the staff is sharing their hard work with them. The TVUSD governing board should provide the community productive, efficient meetings which provide salient and time-sensitive information.
While the governing board should not be combative with the district office, it also should not be an overly cozy relationship. The TVUSD governing board should not act as simply an extension of the cabinet, and at worst as a “TVUSD Cheerleading Squad.” The governing board as community representatives should not be perceived as a “rubber stamp” for district initiatives.
The Temecula Valley Educators Association sought to meet with potential TVUSD candidates throughout the 2019-2020 year. In May, our political action committee conducted a full day of interviews, and action on their recommendations were taken by both the 12-member TVEA executive board and the 75 member TVEA leadership council.
TVEA is proud to recommend the following candidates for election to the 2020 Temecula Valley Unified School Board.
Trustee Area-1: Steve Loner
Loner is the parent of four TVUSD students, three of whom are enrolled at Ysabel Barnett Elementary and a sixth grader starting at Day Middle School. He has been instrumental as a parent at Barnett, working with PTA and LCAP groups collaboratively to seek continuous site improvement. He is a fire captain for the city of Riverside, and he brings sorely needed crisis management skills to the board. Loner will insist on a strong vision for the future, open communication and foster TVUSD students growing to become strong, empathetic and successful adults.
Trustee Area-4: Adam Skumawitz
Skumawitz is a financial planner and former professional soccer player as well as a CIF champion soccer coach for TVUSD. His wife Jennifer is an LCAP counselor at Temecula Middle School. They have three children, two of whom are elementary students at Abby Reinke Elementary. In his previous term on the governing board, Skumawitz asked many questions, urging fellow board members and staff to think “outside the box” and avoid complacency. He seeks more transparency and efficiency from our district and seeks to make TVUSD a district that inspires students, staff and families through a commitment to innovation.
Trustee Area-5: Steven Schwartz
Schwartz is a retired teacher who taught elementary and middle school in New York as well as at Mt. San Jacinto College. He holds a master’s degree in education as well as an advanced degree in administration and supervision from the City University of New York. He and his wife have grown children and grandchildren who live in San Diego. Schwartz’s platform as a TVUSD board member includes: teacher involvement and training in providing special education services, budget analysis with a review of administrative versus classroom spending and promoting cultural awareness by integrating the themes of racism and prejudice into curriculum where applicable.
Loner, Skumawitz and Schwartz will bring a variety of professional experiences both inside and outside of education. They have a combination of the necessary drive and tenacity to move TVUSD forward in these challenging times, while maintaining compassion for the critical roles played by teachers, students and parents in making TVUSD successful.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made for an uncertain time for our schools. Skilled and strong leadership is a must to navigate the waters moving ahead. Become educated about the candidates. Educate others. Expect your vote by mail ballot to arrive in early October. Complete it with the rest of your ballot and return by “Election Day” Nov. 3. This is an opportunity to take TVUSD governance to the next level.
Jeff Kingsberg is a 34-year TVUSD high school social science teacher. He has served as the elected president of the Temecula Valley Educators Association since 2014.