Get to know your candidates campaigning for your vote this November
By The Paso Robles Press Editorial Board
TEMPLETON — The Templeton Unified School District Board has two at-large seats open. This year four candidates are vying for the seats. Candidates Fiona Bond and Jay L. Raftery, Jr. both announced on social media that they have dropped out of the race.
The remaining candidates running for TUSD trustee seats in the 2022 November election are: Janel Armet, Matt Allison, Jennifer Grinager, and Jason Tesarz.
Each candidate had the opportunity to answer the same list of questions in 100 words or less in addition to their introduction at 200 words. The candidate’s statement in its entirety is provided below, with the exception of Janel Armet and Jennifer Grinager, who did not participate.
The candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Director of Operations
I have lived in Templeton for nearly 17 years and I have 3 children attending Templeton Schools. We are in our 10th year of having a student at TUSD and we have nearly 10 more years to go.
I am a graduate of Cal Poly and a Marine Corps Veteran. I have always sought ways to be of service in our community. Whether it has been volunteering at our schools, serving on local boards, or coaching youth sports, community service is very important to me.
I will work hard to keep our schools focused on the important issues that promote student success. More than ever, we need to avoid the unnecessary noise and issues only meant to divide us, and stay laser focused on the fundamental issues that have made Templeton schools great: high academic standards, student health and wellbeing, high quality extra curricular activities and athletics, supports for our teachers and staff, fostering accepting and inclusive environments, and the constructive collaboration of all stakeholders: parents, students, teachers, staff, and community partners.
The results of this election will directly impact our schools, our classrooms, and our students. I will be a voice for our entire community.
I have lived in Templeton for the last 2 years and lived in Paso before that since 2015. I live here with my wife and 2 kids with one of them being in 1st grade at TES. I am involved in the community and helped put on the Templeton 4th of July parade last year and plan to continue to do so this year and more. And I was a coach for one of the Templeton farm baseball teams this past season. I currently work for a Cyber Security company as a Solutions Architect. My professional background has been around cyber security and data science. And I think those skills will help me to serve on the school board especially around understanding and dissecting complicate things like our budget.
Templeton is hands down the best place I’ve ever lived. For me, what makes it great is the people and the community. I love this place and want to serve the students and community by being on the school board. I want to make sure our students get a quality education to be the best citizens and Americans they can is a huge priority for me.
Describe your top three objectives if you are elected to the school board.
Allison: My top 3 priorities for Templeton Schools are:
1) Quickly and aggressively take additional steps to address learning loss. Our schools should be focusing on the important issues that drive student success. 2) Ensure that our district has the resources to recruit and retain excellent educators and staff. 3) Prioritize the importance of a school culture that values and supports all students.
Tesarz: 1) Addressing the math & reading proficiency gap along with learning loss from covid. Templeton school dropped more than the state average in math and reading. 2) Keeping Templeton schools fiscally sound. Being able to hire and keep quality teachers and administrators. The turn over in administrators is definitely an issue. There is also infrastructure that needs to be updated like the wifi network. 3) Listening to the community and parents around what they need. We need to not only listen but demonstrate that we are hearing what the parents and our community is telling us.
In the development of a school district budget, what goals and objectives would guide your decision making?
Allison: First and foremost, any decision should support the TUSD mission to provide “exceptional opportunities for learning and personal growth, nurture a joy for learning, and foster a culture of excellence and care for all students.” Beyond that, any financial decisions should have clear objectives, detailed implementation strategies, and provide for reports and audits to maintain transparency and accountability.
Tesarz: A school budget it a reflection of the goals of the school. I am onboard with the current goals categories we have in the district: 1) Student achievement 2) Employee resources 3) Fiscal integrity 4) Facilities 5) Technology 6) Communication
What are your financial priorities for the school district? (Examples: reduction in class size, improved technology in the classroom, maintaining current programs.)
Allison: It was just two years ago where the board was facing some serious budget shortfalls and they were going to have to make some very tough choices. The budget is now in much better shape and we need to be sure that we maximize every dollar. Our priorities should include addressing learning loss, planning for needed facility upgrades, particularly at Templeton Elementary School, maintaining and expanding current enrichment and elective programs, especially art and music for our youngest learners, and making TUSD a district of choice for top educators.
Tesarz: Our #1 priority should be addressing the proficiency gaps we have in math and reading. In the district our math and science scores are bad and are even below the state wide average. That is the lens we should be using when deciding on what to fund.
If elected, what three steps would you take to put our district on firmer financial footing?
Allison: Our district’s current financial stance is strong but there are always areas to work on. We should; 1) Protect our district’s expanded reserve funds as security for the future. 2) Work to retain our excellent educators and staff to avoid costly turnover and recruiting expenses. 3) Engage with the community to explore the possibility of a bond measure to address large facility needs and capital improvements.
Tesarz: Templeton is on petty good financial footing today. The current Superintendent and Chief Business Official has done a really good job at keeping the budget sound. We need to continue the good work that has been done and spend the new money from the state wisely.
Do you think there should be a police presence on the high school campus?
Allison: Templeton School District currently has an assigned School Resource Officer (SRO) who covers all 4 TUSD schools. Fortunately three of the four campuses are connected so there often is a SRO on or near the high school campus. Safety of our students is always our first priority but we need to be sure that when we address student safety we take a comprehensive approach.
Tesarz: I think it’s a good thing to have a police presence in the school. I don’t think the school should be a war zone though. And they shouldn’t be used as a crutch for every issue on campus. There has to be the right balance.
What do you think is going well right now in the school district?
Allison: We have a number of things going well in our district. 1) Our financial stance is in good shape. 2) We have robust athletic programs that often outperform the size of our schools. 3) We have a high number of enriching elective courses, AP classes, and CTE pathways for a district our size. This provides our students with multiple pathways to be college or workforce ready. 4) Our teachers and staff care deeply for their students and their schools. 5) We have an amazing community-school partnership that we need to work hard to preserve and continue.
Tesarz: There is a lot going well in the district today. AP Test taking has gone up 8 percent since 2019 and chronic absenteeism dropped by more than half since 2019. This means more kids are wanting to be at school and are even more engaged than before. This gives us a great opportunity to really engage with the students and get those math and reading proficiency numbers much higher.
Do you see yourself primarily as a representative of the community or as a representative of the school system? And Why?
Allison: School Board members must be a voice for their entire community. Schools are a place where the entire community pools its resources. School Board members must be able to put aside individual ideology and look at what is best for all students and the community. As a school board member I will work hard to engage with and listen to all stakeholders: parents, families, students, teachers, staff, and community members.
Tesarz: I will definitely be a representative of the community for the school system and our kids. Our kids and their education are the priority. The board’s job is to provide goals for the district and to provide governance and accountability.
Why should the residents vote for you?
Allison: I will be a School Board Trustee that is engaged with all stakeholders: parents, students, teachers, staff, community members. I will work to ensure that we stay laser focused on the important issues of student success, high academic standards, high quality extra curricular activities and athletics, multiple pathways to be college or workforce ready, support for our teachers and staff, and fostering accepting and inclusive school environments. I am running because I believe that I can make a difference. As fantastic as Templeton Schools are, we can always do better. I will work hard for all students, all families, our incredible teachers and staff, and the entire Templeton community.
Tesarz: I’m just a regular parent. I’m running because I want to serve our kids and make Templeton an amazing place to grow and learn. That’s my priority. I also believe the kids of our community need someone who is gonna serve their best interests and not a particular political agenda. I will do what’s right for the kids and keep their best interest at the forefront of all the things I do.