Helen Renteria, Donna Fraser discuss issues facing WUSD, K-5 conversion and making Woodlake Unified better
By Paul Myers
WOODLAKE – The seat for Area B on the Woodlake Unified School District Board is up for grabs on November 6.
Incumbent Helen Renteria is attempting to fend off challengers Donna Fraser, a retired teacher and Armida Martinez, a retired account technician.
Renteria says that for 45 years she has been honored to be associated with the Woodlake community and serve on the board.
“As a parent, I had the pleasure of seeing my own children benefit from a small school environment, where relationships were developed and minds are inspired. As an employee of 36 years, I engaged in productive dialogues that promoted a unified theme of Woodlake pride. Lastly, in the past 10 years as a board member, I have consistently dedicated my time to learn, interact, and promote the talents of our students,” Renteria said.
Fraser says her experience working in the school district for 38 years and serving on the WUSD budget committee makes her uniquely qualified for the job.
“I understand the working dynamics of the school system and its budget. Another of my strongest qualifications is my true concern and compassion for the youth of Woodlake,” Fraser said.
Martinez says she has attended Woodlake schools and so have her children and grand children.
“I’ve always been an active volunteer with our schools in one way or another. I’m a Woodlake person through and through…these children are our future,” Martinez said.
• What do you see as the main issue facing the school district?
“When students succeed in school, they succeed in life. It is important that we promote students to the highest academic levels. By maintaining high expectations, providing the best instructional practices, and entrusting our teachers with the essentials to do their best, I believe Woodlake schools will improve student achievement. It starts by ensuring every school dollars counts. As a board member, I will always ask the question, ‘How does this benefit students?’.” – Renteria
“An important concern of the district is declining enrollment . WUSD must compete with a growing number of education options that parents have available. It is essential for our district to promote to the community our quality teachers; efficient and attractive facilities; safe learning environment;and, exceptional instruction and extracurricular activities.” – Fraser
“Money is the root of a lot of our issues, makign overdue equipment updates or enticing quality teachers to come here. Our current teachers and educators are struggling to survive on their slaries too. We need fiscal room for classroom supplies as well as for maintenance and other supportive departments.” – Martinez
• What are your thoughts on converting to K-5 schools?
“I always appreciate the opportunity to listen and learn. From what I have gathered as a board member and active participant in discussions, school surveys, and research articles, the conversion to K-5 is not necessarily the perfect fit for our community of Woodlake. I have asked my questions and listened to our families. At this time, I support the majority of voices. I am not in favor of the investment.” – Renteria
“Thoughts on converting to K-5 schools: Community K-5 schools are being looked into ; Restructuring the schools may provide increased opportunity for teachers to have vertical collaboration between grade levels and more continuity in curriculum delivery and design. It may also bring more preschool monies to our district. Consequently, there are many other aspects to consider, including school boundaries, cost of structural retrofitting and parent desires and concerns.” – Fraser
“I’m not in favor. If enough people show interest then it would need to be discussed. Remodeling schools for students of various ages costs a lot. With bullying in schools, no one wants to hear ‘my school is better.’ Our schools are still small enough where it makes sense for our kids to start and end school together. It might need to be reexamined yearly depending on growth.” – Martinez
• How can you help Woodlake Unified be better?
“First, I will consistently ask the question, “How does this decision benefit our students?” Secondly, I will continue to advocate for empowering students with learning opportunities that prepare them for the demands of the world by securing highly qualified educators and administrators, all the while supplying the necessary tools to make learning accessible. Third, I want to continue the momentum of building our school environments with technology, safety, inspiration, and pride. Lastly, I want to be a positive voice for the newcomer, the athlete, the scholar, the challenged, and the unspoken learners that need someone to believe in their learning by being present. If elected, I will be present. I will welcome ideas, encourage discussion, and promote the energy that motivates our students to reach their fullest potential.” – Renteria
“As a board member , I want to help the WUSD Board and Superintendent make decisions that will best serve all the students in the community and move those students to be highly successful citizens. It is my desire that WUSD be one of the best in the state.” – Fraser
“I want to really listen to our people, students, faculty and staff. I want to understand their concerns os we can ask the right questions and make the right plans. Changes need to be made now while planning for the future so that when the future arrives, we’re ready for it.” – Martinez
This article was updated at 3:17 a.m. on Oct. 25.
Correction: The second responses to the final two questions are from Donna Fraser and not Armida Martinez. Armida Martinez did respond to the questionnaire via text message prior to the response deadline.