Santa Ana Unified High School District School Board Candidates Answer Resident QuestionsVoice of OC | #students | #parents

Santa Ana Unified School District is one of the largest school districts in the state, serving one of the most diverse student populations anywhere in America across nine high schools.

A majority of the board members – Carolyn Torres, Rigo Rodriguez and Alfonso Alvarez – are currently running for re-election this year.

Three local residents – Cecilia Aguinaga, Judith Carrilo and Oscar Reyes – are running to challenge the incumbents.

Last week, a coalition of nonprofit groups – Latino Health Access, the Santa Ana Building Health Communities group, the Kennedy Commission and Vietrise – all cosponsored a joint debate between candidates, which would have featured Voice of OC moderation.

However, the debate had to be canceled when organizers realized that with a majority of school board members present, the discussion would violate the state’s open meeting laws because a majority of school board members would be opining on issues facing the school district without noticing the session as a public meeting.

In lieu of that’s night’s cancelled discussion, and out of respect for candidates who prepared and residents who need the information to make informed choices, Voice of OC offered all candidates the opportunity to answer in writing the series of debate questions that local residents expressed an interest in hearing perspectives about.

Three out of six candidates – one incumbent, Carolyn Torres and two challengers – Judith Carrillo and Cecilia Aguinaga answered.

  1. Budget 


Parents and Teachers have heard talks of SAUSD facing a budget deficit. From your review of the budget, is SAUSD facing a budget deficit? Please explain the district’s financial standing and what steps would you take to ensure classified staff are protected against massive layoffs.

Candidate responses:

Santa Ana residents need more transparency in how our public tax dollars are spent. I am calling for a top-down public audit of all SAUSD spending. This way we can increase accountability, by making it clear where our money is spread on ty by having annual public reviews. JUDITH CARRILLO

The budget is currently balanced. There is a difference between ongoing expenditures(costs) and revenue (money coming in) and one-time expenditures and revenue. One-time revenues often help us meet costs. However, if our ongoing expenditures and revenue stay the same, we will be in a deficit within a few years. This means we will need to figure where to cut our spending. Our staff salaries take up about 80% of our budget and I do not want to lay anyone off. During the Covid-19 shutdown, I, as well as my fellow board members Dr. Rodriguez and Dr. Alvarez, made sure that we took care of our classified staff, even when their positions did not lend to a virtual environment. We have also approved a retirement incentive to reduce costs and have had frequent special board meetings to directly address the budget. I encourage folks to watch the SAUSD board meeting video from October 20, 2020 if they want the most up to date budget analysis. Also, please vote yes for Proposition 15, as it will greatly increase our ongoing revenue. CAROLYN TORRES

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