Can you give me some basic background information about you and your career in education?

I came to Ridgecrest in 1969. Graduated from Burroughs High School in 1972. My wife Cherie’ and I raised our family (13 children) in the IWV and they attended SSUSD schools. Many of my 26 grandchildren attend or have attended SSUSD schools. I have been a small business owner in Ridgecrest for 44 years. 44 years restaurant (Farris’, John’s) 14 years of which, restaurant and furniture (Ashley Homestore). Past community service includes: board service for Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce, CLOTA and Alta one Federal Credit Union. Performing arts participation CLOTA, RMES, Farris Players, CCCC, and Randsburg Players. I have served on the school board for over 35 years. Currently serve as region 12 director of California School Board Association  (CSBA) representing Kern and Tulare counties. I also serve on the Board of Kern County School Board Association and the Kern County Committee on School District Reorganizing.


Why are you running for the school board this year?

I am running for the opportunity to continue serving as a Sierra Sands board member because I believe my experience and network developed in 35 years of school board service positions me to provide strong and effective leadership on behalf of the students in our community.


What are some things you hope to accomplish if you are elected to the board?

A school board is most effective and powerful when operating as a well functioning team. Due to the recent passing of our fellow member, Amy Castillo-Covert, the board will have a change of at least one member. My primary hope is to contribute to the building of a team that is reasonable, thoughtful, considerate, and respectful, that can work well together, considering the perspective and ideas of others to provide the best educational opportunities to our community.


Are there any federal and/or state programs that would provide financial assistance to the district that we have not taken advantage of yet?

The district has been very aggressive in the pursuit of state and federal funding sources to assist in our present circumstances. We are also being very strategic, thoughtful and purposeful to see that our short, middle and long term budget planning prepares us for what may very well be the most challenging fiscal future we have ever experienced. I believe that if other funding opportunities arise we will take advantage of those available and appropriate for our district.


What are your top priorities for the district?

Currently my top priority for our district is to continue to refine and improve our virtual program while pressing toward our earliest opportunity to SAFELY open our schools to on campus, in person instruction. Teachers, staff, administrators, parents and students are working hard to accomplish educational goals but much is lost with our current restrictions. The lost opportunities for so many weighs heavily on me. We must keep this objective before us.

What strengths do you bring to the board as an individual?

How many times have we heard “unprecedented times” used as a description of our current circumstances? I feel confident that this description is accurate as I reflect on my lifetime. As I consider these difficult times I am convinced that continuity, experience and consistency are critical elements necessary for the leadership of our district at this time. These qualities must be coupled with a strong understanding of and commitment to building an effective team. I am hopeful that I can continue to be a contribution to these principal strengths. Many of the decisions that affect local districts today are made at the state and federal levels leaving less local control for boards than most people realize. In the course of my service on the SSUSD board I have been able to gain access and provide influence at these levels through my elected service on the CSBA board. This position is contingent on my continued local board service. I believe this provides significant value to our district. If I am not reelected to continue as a SSUSD board member this access will be lost to our district.