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Ron Kasper, Lakeside Union School District Board candidate

Ron Kasper, Educator

Why are you running for school board?

My name is Ron Kasper and friends call me Shiloh. I love my community of Lakeside and have been a resident for over nine years and for three years prior to that I was living part -time here as I boarded my horses in Lakeside. Nothing is more important than excellence in education and keeping our schools safe for our future generation. My more than 30 years as an educator and with a family counseling background and well as trained in school administration and currently a substitute teacher for our Lakeside Union and my integrity, passion and experience has brought me to this important decision to further serve out community.

What are your top three priorities if elected?

My priorities are to quickly develop an action plan to address the Covid effects of over two years of lock downs, remote learning and hybrid learning and the significant educational lags throughout the nation. When elected, I will immediately propose a program to help any student to guide him/her to a rapid recovery this school year. And parent participation will be welcome.
And safety is utmost for our schools for all children, staff, and all employees. Uvalde has shown us that a tragedy like this can happen anywhere. We will continue to have the safest schools while opening our campuses.
Parent involvement is critical and more important than ever for successful schools. They entrust us with their children for seven or more hours each day. We owe our kids excellence in education as well as our partnership with parents. I will have ease of access to contact me.

With studies showing students are behind due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what would you do on the policy level in ensuring students behind are able to catch up?

I have been reading studies of the educational effects of Covid and am alarmed. A 2021 study by NWEA (Northwest Evaluation Association) cited-” Left unchecked, unfinished learning could have severe consequences for students’ opportunity and prospects.” Reading and math scores have fallen from 5-7 points in some grades. Congress approved over $120 billion in funding and required that a substantial chunk of it be used to address learning loss. Sadly, a recent report on media said more than 87% of those funds have not been used. These findings are nationwide. Please see my comment on question 2- my priorities.

Are you a proponent of armed teachers in classrooms as a way of addressing school safety for students, parents, and staff?

This summer after the tragedy in Uvalde, there was a public meeting at our school district regarding the safety our schools and specific plans for an intruder/armed person after the behavior of first responders in Uvalde became public. Our superintendent, Dr. Taylor, and the lieutenant from the sheriff’s Lakeside office, spoke and answered questions.
After listening to the sheriff personnel and superintendent and questions by parents and our community, I am convinced that our law enforcement will breach a campus by the first responding deputy without hesitation to save lives and not wait for back up. All the campuses I substitute teach in our district have radios in the classrooms which I believe are an added layer of support as well as shelter in place protocols and other emergency plans. I actually was in a class this past year when a real shelter in place was activated, and I am proud to say it was a lightening quick reaction to secure all children safely. May we leave armed response to the professionals who continually train for these tragic events, the sheriff department.

How can the district support homeless students?

As a photojournalist also, I have had numerous stories published of the homelessness in our community. And boots on the ground in the riverbed has been a regular assignment. As an educator, I am not usually told if a child is homeless because of privacy. But, as a teacher and my background, I incorporate our campus resources, our counselors, or administrators if there may be an assistance need as they have the community resource information. Being sensitive an accepting is paramount to each student that walks in one’s classroom. Today, not every child has a place called home. It is not their fault.

Under what circumstances is it appropriate to ban books from school classrooms and libraries?

I do not support censorship but support reading material that is age-appropriate and unbiased and parents have right to practice their beliefs if material conflicts with their values. Healthy debate by students should always be welcome while discrimination is not.

What past board efforts would you amplify or grow, and are there any which you would phase out?

Just yesterday, September 8, 2022, I was speaking with a colleague, and he said his child went to Lakeside Farms Elementary and then to Lakeside Middle Schools and excelled and is now a senior in high school. He was so positive about the district and his son’s education. It was nice to hear his comment.
But the district is coming out of a pandemic. I sensed how challenging it has been for kids, staff, and parents. I substituted to the end of this past school year, and it seemed like a long school year after over two years of Covid. Lakeside Union made it. All employees, children and parents were in it together. The resilience is there. A new year is here and moving rapidly. Thank you Lakeside Union and I trust my covering many classes last year made the transition a bit easier.

What policies or processes would you propose to support student life such as anti-bullying training, efforts to reduce student vaping and drug use, and extracurricular events?

Bullying is prohibited and must reported to a counselor or administrator. It is shaming, cruel and can have life-long negative effects or worse.
Vaping and drug abuse especially with the huge increase in fentanyl tainted pills or cannabis is alarming. Drug education especially now must be a continued priority for all kids in an age-appropriate manner. With fentanyl, taking drugs today is more dangerous than ever. My support for any additional assistance including community resources will be another priority. Vaping with flavored products can be attractive to young people and state legislators are noticing.
Extracurricular events are important in developing a full experience for kids and is enrichment for them. Let us explore what more can be offered.

Lakeside Union is well-known for its multi-language immersion and STEAM programs. Do you feel there is equity to these programs throughout the district, and if not, what would you propose to give all students access to these programs?

The Language Immersion Programs are recognized widely. It is credible to work with the kids developing their bilingual skills. Parents choose these programs for their children. I remember a few years ago I was teaching an eight-grade class and after the lesson, I saw a student reading in Mandarin. I asked her if she started in elementary school at Riverview and she replied-” Yes.” In today’s world, have a second or third language will allow students to compete in our competitive world especially when she is enters it. Our state ethnic and racial makeup is changing, and it is invaluable to be bilingual in any language. I teach regularly the primary Spanish Immersion Programs and it is a delight. And I so admire parents for looking ahead and rolling their child be immersed in a second language at such a young age. The enrollment is promoted and available to students.

What is it that makes the Lakeside Union School District special to you, and why?

Numerous factors make the district special. I enjoy the small town feel of the school environment, the multiculturalism, staff, and their hard work, of course the students and programs and parents, a friendly environment, and the superintendent and much more. One thing I always enjoy, no matter where I may be in Lakeside-shopping, having an ice cream, or at the gas station, I will hear-” Hi Mr. K-!” It is wonderful to have interacted with hundreds of students in the last several years and to be able to continue in a larger role on your school board.

Ron Kasper, Lakeside Union School District Board candidate

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Source: East County Californian

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