Santa Clara County Voter's Guide On Children's Issues

Evergreen School District Governing Board, Vote for 3

Jim Zito

Well educated children & strong families are the heart of all communities. Leaders must support local businesses, religious facilities & all schools because they provide the foundation for strong families. As a Trustee, I engage community input, advocate for strong early learning and the education of the "whole child" by providing resources.

  1. In a recent poll by Choose Children 2022 of likely general election voters, more than half of parents with children under age 18 say they are likely to move out of the Bay Area in the next few years. What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how will you make our region a place where all families can thrive?

    1. Cost of living – Bay Area living expenses for a family of 4 is now over $11,000/mo. So, family take-home income must be ~ $140,000 per year to be comfortable!
    2. Affordable, quality education – CA ranks in the lowest 20% in public school academic performance. We’re not competitive with our charter & private school counterparts.
    3. Affordable childcare & healthcare. Many families require both parents to work full time. The lack of quality affordable childcare, and social & emotional health programs for all students reduce the quality of life for many families.
    Elected officials are responsible for understanding of the needs of families.

  2. As we have learned over the past three years, without quality, affordable, childcare, parents can’t go to work. What will you do to address challenges accessing childcare and preschool programs in our diverse communities?

    As a school board trustee, I would review and advise our school district to allocate resources to provide accessible and quality pre-school, T-K, full time kinder and after school programs. With declining enrollment there is no shortage of available school space for these programs. As my school district has already started to provide these programs, I would continue to recommend and support my District in partnering with public and private providers for these pre- and afterschool programs. This would also be an opportunity to provide affordable childcare close to where parents live and work and siblings go to school. The challenge will be for the District to find the resources to do so.

  3. Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the opportunity gap that children in low-income families and children of color confront (e.g., lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors, and enrichment activities). If elected, what will you do to increase equity of opportunity?

    Equity is at the center of full District academic performance. However, while many Districts provide extensive training to school administrators and teaching staff, detailed and accurate performance tracking of all school populations are not consistently or accurately tracked and diagnosed. Districts must ensure “end-to-end” student & family services are provided to all communities, including our homeless and frequently mobile students & families. They must ensure these programs are making a significant and sustainable impact on our students. My District has partnered with private, city and county providers to ensure healthy meals, quality enrichment and afterschool programs are provided.

  4. What steps will you take to support inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities and their families to be fully included in our community?

    As Board Trustees, we approve the District’s budget. We also provide the vision & direction our administration follows to ensure a high-quality education for all our students. Recently our District brought back into our programs all but the highest need special needs students. We applied COVID special funding to provide the infrastructure & training to bring back our students. We have much more to do to ensure the quality of their education is up to a high standard. My focus will be to provide the support and funding to hire and retain the necessary Paras, counselors, special needs teachers and scaffolding programs to support our special needs students to join normal classroom activities.

  5. There is a mental health crisis among children, youth, and those who care for and educate them. If elected, how will you use the resources of your new role to improve access to mental and behavioral health services?

    As a 12-year trustee, I consistently advocate for full funding for wrap-around services available to all our students. As a middle school teacher, I have seen first-hand how the COVID era has dramatically affected our students’ dependence on social media, and their reluctance to interact face-to-face with teachers, administrators and their peers. Those responsible for caring for our students’ social & emotional needs are in high demand, and are inadequately trained to handle this new kind of social isolation. As a Trustee, I will continue to provide the vision, guiding administration in building & funding the staff and programs necessary to address these important needs.