As your board trustee, Laura Bratt will be committed to partnering with and being a strong ally for our broad spectrum of communities as she brings a much-needed perspective to our leadership and shines a bright light on our wide variety of insightful stakeholders, ensuring each decision is made through the lens of transparency, equity and compassion so that together, we can deliver a strong, supportive educational environment for all of our students!
I will create a framework that removes barriers and allows for growth in trust through authentic transparency about where and how the district and board gathers their information, how they make recommendations and decisions, why they choose one path over another, and what the expected outcome is. In order to create greater transparency we must engage all stakeholders in real conversations, asking questions, gathering data, having personal interactions with various groups by holding office hours, attending committee meetings, parent groups, going into the classrooms and speaking with students and teachers, and giving detailed reports on why decisions were made – pros and cons, data used, expected outcomes and return on investment metrics. Hard decisions will have to be made and not everyone will be happy, but I will do everything I can to make sure that each part of our educational family impacted understands why and how it was made.
I will look at all issues through the lens of equity, ensuring that the broad spectrum of communities in our district are empowered to reach their full potential. I will actively work to break down the structural disadvantages and marginalization of our entire SRVUSD community – such as disparity in early education, implicant bias, household insecurity, mental and social health, curriculum design, and learning challenges. I plan to view these issues from both a larger system and individual student perspective to better understand the barriers and unique challenges that all stakeholders face.
I will promote compassion throughout SRVUSD by listening to, learning from, empathizing with and supporting all communities in our district in an authentic and consistent way. My goal is to give everyone power to be themselves and the tools to appreciate those that seem different from them. I will approach each issue and challenge with respect and inquisition. I will use my position to shine a light on others’ experiences and perspectives, supporting them as they speak about their concerns. And as a calm, reflective, and respectful person, I will lead problem-solving in a supportive and collaborative way, ensuring that concerns are discussed, questions are heard and answered, and everyone walks away feeling united rather than divided.
Laura's Vision for San Ramon Valley Unified School District
An intentional transition back to On-site Learning in a safe, effective, and efficient way
The quick and reactionary transition to remote learning last March due to COVID-19 was very difficult for everyone involved. The teachers and administration have spent countless hours trying to “make it work” even though they’ve been given a moving target. Parents and students are frustrated by the change and fear of the unknown. Once things are safe and the District is able to start it’s transition back to 100% on-site, I would ensure that it is done with well thought out intention. I believe this can be done in a way that prioritizes the student communities that have the most to lose from remote learning – such as special education, ESL, IEP/504, food and housing insecure families, early elementary, students who are struggling with the remote model, and families who cannot manage remote learning due to work/health/other situations. I would also ask the admin/teachers/students to look at what has worked with the interim remote learning model and bring those ideas into the on-site model so we can take this frustrating experience and learn from it, making the educational experience better than ever before. I believe that this can be accomplished with the right leadership.
Restructuring our approach to managing SRVUSD's 2020-21 and future budget shortfalls
SRVUSD is looking at a budget shortfall of $16M in 20/21, $28M in 21/22 and $38M in 22/23. This is due mainly to a projected decline in enrollment as our community ages. This does not yet take into account the costs associated with shifting learning models due to COVID and unknown additional financial support from State and Federal funding. While I don’t have the magic answer and know that our administration has been hard at work balancing the budget, I struggle with some of the expenditures – mainly the superintendent and top admin raises costing $710,556. While I am not privy to all the information, I believe this decision was NOT in the best interest of our students. We need to look at expenditures such as these relative to value and cost to the individual student and entire district. I would insist that our administration review all expenditures through the lens of finding the best possible alignment of resources and student-centric goals, adjusting as data comes in. I know that this will be difficult as the district feels like it is between a rock and a hard place and much of the revenue and expenditures feel out of their control. However, if motivated by leadership, I believe that it can be done.
Prioritizing truly supportive Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging
My goal is to lead systemic change within SRVUSD by looking at how our district views/supports our students, families, teachers and staff who look, act, speak and learn differently from the so-called “norm”. I will do this by shining a light on the value of diversity, inclusion and equity, guiding conversations around ways to support, learn from and celebrate our broad spectrum of communities, and make decisions based on equity so that every student leaves our school system feeling empowered, heard, culturally intelligent and ready to take on the world. I believe that our community is ready for this and that it is most definitely accomplishable.
Focusing on both Academic Achievement and Academic Fulfillment
Our students should leave our school district with a love of learning and the knowledge that they received a world-class education, giving them the tools to be truly competitive as they step into their future. In order to deliever a strong and supportive educational environment for all, we most reach further then achievement and look to academic fulfillment to more fully empower them. Moving onto University after graduation is an excellent choice and every student should be fully supported by our district and school-sites to acheive this goal. We also need broaden the pathways for our students and support and de-stigmatize choices other then University to ensure that each student graduates having been challenged, feeling confident in their ability to acheive their individual goals, and pride in themselves and the choices they make. By looking at our curriculum policies from elementary on up through the lens of discovery, critical thinking, and diverse viewpoints, we can empower every student to reach for their individual dreams and find fulfillment in their educational experience..
Comprehensively supporting Social, Emotional, and Mental Wellness
As a parent with 4 children in the district, I see first-hand the level of daily anxiety our students feel around academic achievement, safety in our schools, social pressure, climate change, marginalization, and now layered with COVID, economic insecurity, and remote learning stress. We need to teach our students from TK on up the skills, vocabulary, and bravery to be able to voice their opinions, talk about their emotions, listen to and learn from the diverse viewpoints around them, and feel empowered to change the outcomes. Prioritizing social and emotional literacy at an early age will build a foundation for navigating the anxiety and pressure that all of us feel. Our district also needs to furthe support our middle and high school students by providing more counselors and separating the academic advisor role from the social and emotional wellness role. Ensuring that each high school site has wellness centers and each middle school has both counselors and social/emotional literacy programs that help students continue to build the foundation for both resiliancy and compassion.
Building Trust and Transparency in our leadership
As a Board Trustee, I will break down barriers between our board and administration and the teachers, staff, parents, students, and create authentic, full-circle communication that will allow for greater transparency and help to build back trust between the stakeholders. I will initiate a straightforward communication framework, with opportunities for community engagement in decisions that impact them, and encourage full-disclosure of goals and outcomes that all communities can easily attain and comprehend. In order to truly deliever a strong and supportive educatcional environment for all of our students, we have to work together and understand in the hard decisions leadership makes, regardless of whether we agree with them or not.