Nov. 2015 Advocate: Karen Schwarz: Election statement


Karen Schwarz: Board of Trustees election statement

In the November 3 SMCCCD Board of Trustees election, AFT 1493 has endorsed newcomer Maurice Goodman and incumbents Dave Mandelkern and Karen Schwarz. Below is Karen Schwarz’s candidate statement.

Continuing our Conversation

KarenSchwartz-webSince I have been on the Board I have always marveled at the longevity of our employees. I was first elected as a Trustee for the San Mateo County Community College District in 1995 so I am joining that group. It is an honor for me to represent this District in our College community and the voting community of San Mateo County. I am proud to represent the best faculty, dedicated support staff and always working to keep students first in all discussions and decisions.

The obvious biggest changes have occurred in the facilities. When I was campaigning and first elected I was shocked at the condition of the facilities. Due to the State cutbacks in education, in the early 90s, priorities were given to academics and capital improvements were put on hold. I totally understand why that happened. The District has always provided excellent education, even with deteriorating facilities. In my early years, the Board and administration started discussing how to correct this problem, and realizing the State of California would never provide the funding that was needed. Some of you might remember we tried to pass a facility bond, which was defeated. We regrouped and did pass our first one in 2001, followed by another one in 2005, and yet another in 2014. For all of you who have lived through the construction and will again, I personally Thank You. I realize it has been difficult, but look what we now have; more faculty offices, and better classrooms. I am very happy that we now provide first-rate facilities for our students and staff.

I always consider the finances of the District as my #1 priority. Keeping this District solvent and moving forward is no easy task, but we have forged ahead even during very lean times. I supported and am proud that during those times we worked together and had no layoffs or cut back in salaries. We are fortunate to have moved from State Apportionment to Community Funding. We now have more flexibility on where to apply funding, keeping in mind what are the priorities of this District and desires of the community. I am confident the decisions we make are always vetted by our District Shared Governance. I make my decisions only when I am confident all groups have had their opinion heard.

I was asked to talk about my accomplishments since being first elected. Let me say I alone haven’t accomplished anything. It should be obvious that it takes 3 votes to move any thing along. I have listened, and supported ideas that I feel will improve the District, and always keep students first in my decisions. Besides the facility improvements, I am very happy and proud that we have developed employee housing. Every place I go housing is the #1 topic. We can never solve the massive problem, but we have certainly helped our own. This District is the first in San Mateo County to provide this for our employees, and we are a model to surrounding cities, school districts, and municipalities.

I am proud that this District supports Veterans, with 3 resource centers, one at each college.

Middle College at every college gives opportunities to struggling and underserved students. I would hope you agree, graduation season is the best time at our colleges. The obstacles that some of our students have faced and accomplished to receive their certificate or degree deserves all the accolades from the proud families and friends.

My Thanks to all of you who helped us pass our latest Accreditation from the ACCJC. I also applaud the efforts of those who stood up to that agency. I am confident changes will be made, and San Mateo County Community College District, led by our Chancellor Ron Galatolo in cooperation with the AFT and others are responsible for this movement.

Many have voiced their opinion that due to my tenure I should be reelected easily. For those of you who know a bit about politics, nothing is guaranteed. I am running my campaign as I always do by reaching out to all I know for support. I am fortunate to have met so many in this county who are being very helpful. This includes the AFT. I am grateful for their support and can assure you I will be a faithful servant to this District if reelected.