My name is Milt Morrison. As a retired full-time instructor from COS and a former member of the Visalia Unified School District’s Board of Governing Trustees, I am seriously concerned about the upcoming election of the members of Visalia’s school board. Toward that end, I have attended a number of candidate forums and have been attentive to the published statements, spoken and written, of the candidates. Following is my opinion of Waltha Gamonian’s candidacy. She is the incumbent for the seat representing District 1.
Without fail, I have found that Ms. Gamonian’s responses to questions from the forum chairs and members of the audiences reflect a depth of understanding of, and concern about, the issue raised by the questioner. In addition, her responses demonstrate her realization of the connectivity of apparently disparate issues around sound, good education. In her response to a question about the “biggest issue facing” VUSD, Ms. Gamonian gives us information about students not reading and doing math at grade level because of “broken systems” which are currently under repair by the new superintendent recently hired by the board on which she serves. Without going into detail here, I can report to you that Ms. Gamonian outlined, in detail, a series of programs that the new superintendent and the board, including her, have implemented to remediate student disparities in math and reading.
Ms. Gamonian’s response to a question about increasing the number of VUSD graduates who are “UC/CSU eligible and prepared” lists specific programs which have been implemented toward assuaging the UC/CSU issue: California College Guidance issue, El Rise (language acquisition), A-G Completion Grant, and the UC Merced Advising Corp. (a counselor dedicated to UC/CSU admission for each high school). Also the addition of the third year of math increases UC/CSU eligibility. Ms. Gamonian is clearly informed about board matters.
Also of interest here is Ms. Gamonian’s sharing about her board’s implementation of the One Visalia Connected issue. Her implementation of, and support for, One Connected Visalia demonstrates, clearly, her realization of the connectivity of sound educational issues. This program requires that every student be connected to school in an area other than simply the classroom, e.g., sports, choir, drama, clubs, or with the community at large (sheriff explorer, church youth group, or an internship with a business). Here again, we see a candidate who understands the connectivity of life issues and educational issues.
I am also pleased that Ms. Gamonian is a member of the school board which decided to conduct a nationwide search for a superintendent and ultimately located and hired a spectacularly knowledgeable and apparently quite competent individual who in concert with the current board will lead VUSD to educational excellence. Citizens of School District One, I will be voting for Walta Gamonian. I trust that you will as well.