Name: Cindy M. Ruiz
Occupation: Realtor in the Tri Counties area of San Gabriel Valley, North Orange County and San Bernardino County areas for RE/MAX Realty 100 in Diamond Bar.
Governing Board Member for Walnut Valley Unified School District.
1. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and why you should be elected or reelected to the Walnut Valley Unified School District Board of Education.
My family and I have proudly lived in the Walnut Valley community for 25 years. I am married to my husband, Paul who is a Walnut Valley teacher at Chaparral MS, and I have two college-aged children, who both attended, CJ Morris Elementary, Suzanne MS and graduated from Walnut HS. Prior to becoming a Realtor, my experience is as a leader in Fortune 500 companies, my business background includes management, finance, accounting and payroll, sales training and recruiting. I am a Licensed Real Estate Agent serving the needs of homebuyers and sellers in Walnut Valley and surrounding areas. As a parent and community member, I have always been actively involved in a variety of programs in our schools and community.
· CJ Morris Community Club President and Treasurer
· Suzanne MS Community Club Vice President and Hospitality Chair
· Walnut HS Athletic Boosters for Softball, Baseball, Football, Soccer, Water Polo and Swimming
· Walnut HS Parent Partners Book Fair Chairperson
· Equalization Task Force (fighting for increased funding for our district)
· WVUSD “IT Campaign” (Instructional Technology) Fundraising Chair raising over $500K District wide
· Walnut Valley Unified Coordinating Council
· Walnut Valley Educational Foundation Director and now VP of Fundraising
· Walnut Youth Softball Association Treasurer, Tournament Director, Team Manager, and Team Mom
· Walnut Pony Baseball, Walnut NJB, Walnut AYSO Team Mom and volunteer
· FC Barcelona Club Soccer Team Administrator
· Lead Volunteer for the American Cancer Society at the Local, Regional and State levels
· Founding Chair for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Walnut
· Chair for the American Cancer Society SGV Gala Fundraiser 2012 and 2013, exceeding goal.
· Board Liaison for the City of Walnut
· Past board representative for LACSTA (Los Angeles County School Trustees Association)
· Master’s in Governance graduate, CSBA
· Member of the California School Boards Association
· Past President, Vice President, Clerk of the WVUSD Governing Board
Why I should be re-elected:
I am passionate about our school district and community as evident by my ongoing commitment and service to quality education and quality living. I am an advocate for ALL students, parents, and community members. I believe that every child deserves a
World-class education in a safe environment that allows them to grow into a productive, contributing adult to our future society. I am honored to have served as a member of the Governing Board for the past 12 years and thereby contributing to the achievements of the district.
· Within the top 20 school districts in the state
· Top school district in San Gabriel Valley
· API score exceeding 900
· National Blue Ribbon Schools
· California Distinguished Schools with South Pointe receiving the Exemplary Arts School Award, one of the first in the state for 2013
· Both Diamond Bar and Walnut HS ranked as the Best High Schools in the Nation
· International Baccalaureate programs (Elementary and High Schools)
· Mandarin Dual Immersion program
· Walnut HS International Baccalaureate Career Certificate Project Lead the Way Bio-Medical Sciences Program
· Superior rated Performing Arts, Athletic and Academic Programs
· State of the art new buildings and schools utilizing bond dollars
Despite the state’s financial crisis that adversely affected our schools, we were able to increase our academic achievements, and by working with our associations’ we were able to balance our budget not only for this year, but also for the required 3 years.
Our district needs strong, proven leadership with the experience to protect the quality education in Walnut Valley and the vision to lead us into the future. I believe I have not only the experience, but the passion for education and I will continue to work tirelessly to keep WVUSD as a top district in the state and maintain your confidence as a member of this board, focusing on Kids First.
2. What do you see as the primary role of the school board?
To ensure that our students receive a top quality education and are prepared to compete in our global society by:
1. Setting the direction and establishing the vision for the district.
2. Establishing and maintaining a structure that supports the district’s vision and empowering the staff to implement by:
A. Employing the Superintendent and setting policy for hiring other personnel
B. Overseeing the development of and adopting policies
C. Setting the direction for and adopting curriculum
D. Establishing budget priorities, adopting the budget and overseeing facilities issues
E. Providing direction for and accepting the collective bargaining agreements
3. Create a supportive environment by supporting the Superintendent and staff
4. Ensuring accountability to the public
5. To demonstrate community leadership by building support for public education in the local community and at the state and national levels.
3. One key thing school board members are tasked with is voting on budgets and making sure the district is spending wisely. What kind of experience do you have working with budgets?
With over 26 years of business experience in finance, accounting, payroll and working with budgets on a variety of levels in the private sector, along with 15 years of managing budgets for non-profits as a volunteer, and the last twelve years of experience in school finance as a governing board member. I feel I possess the knowledge and background that is required to understand the complexity of managing the district’s overall budget. The challenge is the way schools are funded by the state and having to prepare a budget based on projected figures three years out. School districts are the only entity in which this is required.
4. If elected or re-elected to the board, what will be your top 3 priorities for the upcoming term?
1. Continue to improve the district’s fiscal stability by seeking additional funding and by ensuring proper implementation of the state’s new funding structure for schools (Local Control Funding Formula-LCFF)
2. Increasing our Academic Rigor by challenging our students in the classroom with the emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) and ensuring proper implementation of the state’s new academic Common Core Standards.
3. Provide safe, modern schools with the completion of our modernization projects utilizing bond funds from Measures S and Y.5. What are your thoughts on WVUSD’s District of Choice Program? Do you support it? If so, why? If no, why not?
The District of Choice legislation was implemented in our District prior to my tenure on the board. It was established to provide parents and students with a choice to attend a school district that provided academic choice and programs that may have been lacking in their district. It served the WVUSD district well at a time of declining enrollment.While I am a parent who believes in Choice, I also believe that our WVUSD students should and will have priority in placement and opportunities. However, I have also suggested a review of the program to determine its effectiveness and the overall benefits to our district.
6. Do you have any specific changes you want to make in school district policies, programs, or the various school curricula being offered? If so, what changes do you want to make and why?
The district’s policies are reviewed and updated on a regular basis. This is to ensure we are adhering to the laws and mandates of the state. With the state’s new academic, Common Core Standards mandated, our school curricula will experience change.
I am always looking to improve our class offerings to make sure we are serving the needs of all our students. I attend each school on an annual basis to visit with teachers, students and the principal to gain insight into the needs of our students and to determine if we as a district need to make any changes to our programs.
7. School districts, including WVUSD, are rolling out new standards known as common core. What are your thoughts on common core? What are some key issues, if any, you see with implementing it?
While implementing change of this caliber will be a challenge all in itself, there are great costs that go with it. I believe it will be beneficial to students as a whole. We in Walnut Valley are better prepared than other districts due to the strong curriculum already offered through our International Baccalaureate programs. Many of our teachers already teach using the methods within the new Common Core Standards.
Outside of costs, which the state is providing some additional funds to assist with implementation, professional development and the use of technology will be critical to its successful implementation.
8. What are your thoughts on how the district’s test scores are trending year to year? How important of a measure do you feel test scores are in determining student achievement? How important do you think they are in evaluating teacher performance?
I believe the high, test scores in Walnut Valley is a testament to the commitment of our teachers, students, support staff, and parents. WVUSD is recognized as one of the highest achieving districts in the state. When achieving at high levels as we do, you will see some minor adjustments from year to year based on the student population receiving the test. While tests are used to determine a student’s level of knowledge at that point in time, it does not always reflect the student’s true understanding of the topic. It is only one measure in determining achievement.
While many factors need consideration in evaluating a teacher’s performance, I do not believe test scores should be used as a single indicator in reflecting the overall teacher’s performance.9. The WVUSD recently hired a new superintendent. What do you think the board’s role is in working with a superintendent?
The Board and Superintendent relationship is critical to the success of the district. It sets the tone for the entire educational direction. The Superintendent must communicate on a regular basis with the board and vice versa. He is to provide the leadership and support to meet district’s objectives. The board and superintendent are to work together as a governance team to make decisions that that will best serve all of our students.
10. What are your thoughts on the importance of parental involvement in helping students achieve. How will you engage the community to improve public schools in the district?
As an involved parent reflected in my introduction, I believe parental involvement is critical to the success of our schools and students. Children need to feel the support to increase their success levels. Our parent groups; Community Clubs, Boosters, foundations provide a variety of support levels at the school sites. We are fortunate in Walnut Valley to have this type of support from our parents and the community.We will continue to offer opportunities throughout the district that encourages parental engagement. Many of our schools provide activities that encourage parental participation like socials, cultural fairs, back to school night, student performances, and more.
I will continue to encourage and support community forums, suggest communication through a variety of methods (Outlook, websites, emails) and parent workshops and programs.
I have always made myself available to the community and I welcome your input, please feel free to contact me at 909-598-6057.