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Meet the Area 2 San Dieguito Union High School District candidates

File photo
(Staff photo)

With two long-time board members leaving the board this year, San Dieguito Union High School District will add two new board members to two available seats. Two candidates, Leslie Schneider and Katrina Young, are vying for the Area 2 seat which represents the communities of Encinitas and Carlsbad.

Leslie Schneider
Leslie Schneider
(Courtesy)

Leslie Jacoway Schneider
Occupation: Medical Device and Biotech professional
Education: Bachelors Degree in Business with minors in Communications and French
Community Service: Current school board member for EUSD, PTA, EEF, School Site Council leadership roles within EUSD, Homeless Youth Outreach team for YMCA, Family Services support team on Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, R12 Mother/Daughter Christian service organization and many others throughout the years.

1. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the San Dieguito Union High School District?
SDUHSD needs a plan to open schools. As a mom, I see the downward spiral of my kids and others in terms of poor motivation for school, lack of access to sports and few socialization opportunities because campuses are closed. SDUHSD has not produced a plan to return to campus learning and there is no indication that is even their goal. Our middle/high schools are forced to spend hours daily staring at a screen hoping to learn something while parents have become default tutors to fill in the learning gaps. This is not a workable solution. Every family should do what is best for their own personal situation but should be provided a choice to attend school in person. While our students watch friends in private, charter and other public schools return and prepare fully for the next chapter of their lives, SDUHSD students sit at home. This is unacceptable.

2. How would you propose to address those issues?
First, the board needs a solid well thought out reopening plan that they can vote on. The board must ask Superintendent Haley to present options for at home/hybrid learning as well as in-person learning while following all state and county safety and health guidelines. These plans already exist for schools of similar size and circumstances and can be adjusted for our district. Finally, parents have been ignored and silenced by the board and publicly shamed for wanting their child in school. The administration needs to work with all stakeholders: teachers, the board, and especially parents to get our children back in school.

3. Do you agree with the way the San Dieguito Union High School District operates? If not, what changes do you think need to be made.
SDUHSD is recognized as a high-performing district with engaged parents and teachers who love their work, but we need to do better. As I have done on the Encinitas school board, I will continue to make independent decisions and not be pressured by special interests. The role of the board is to represent parents, students, and taxpayers and to look out for their interests. Transparency, clear communication, and independence are the hallmarks of a well-managed school system and school board. The first step in making this vital change is to elect me, an experienced school board member and a professional, as your school board Trustee. The next step is to get our kids back to school.

Katrina Young
(Courtesy)

Katrina Young
Occupation: For the past 22 years, I have been a stay-at-home mom for my three children (Sean 22, Carolyn 21, and Allison 19). Before motherhood, I worked as an editor for a healthcare information group and, before that, an assistant editor for a local literary agent.
Education: I received my B.A. in English from UCLA
Community Service: For the past 16 years, I have volunteered in our community as a Girl Scout Leader, Team Mom, PTA President and Board Member, and member of La Costa Canyon’s Board of Directors. Currently, I serve as Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster children, as well as the Board Chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. A passionate supporter of children’s health, I have held over 70 meetings with members of Congress and was invited to attend the 2016 White House Precision Medicine Initiative. More locally, I was an active member of the Surf Cities Chapter of National Charity League, where I served on the Board of Directors and supported several charities in our community, including Meals on Wheels, LCYO Champions League, La Posada de Guadalupe Homeless Shelter, the CRC and more. I now serve as the Sustainer Liaison where I recently completed a series of educational panels on raising teens.

1. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the San Dieguito Union High School District?
I believe the biggest challenge our district currently faces is staying on top of the increased social-emotional needs of our teens. Mental health, academic pressure, social media, and substance abuse were issues before COVID-19. In many instances, these problems may be compounded after quarantining seven months at home, isolated from their peers and social interactions. Anxiety, depression, substance abuse, cutting, and even suicide are alarming and terrifying concerns shared by all. As the mother of three recent SDUHSD graduates, I fully recognize that these are not just issues to be solved by individual families, schools, or even districts. Mental health and social-emotional wellness must be addressed within the general community at large. Even under the best of circumstances, our students can not reach their full academic potential unless they are fully supported emotionally. Mental health, physical wellness, and academic success must all go hand in hand.

2. How would you propose to address those issues?
I fully acknowledge that there are no easy solutions to the mental health issues that our teens currently face. I also deeply empathize with the enormous responsibility these concerns place on families, teachers, staff, and administrators. However, I believe that by sharing resources and ideas, our community can, and must, do more to provide our children with the emotional support they need to thrive. While I applaud recent steps our community has taken towards talking about mental health, much more work needs to be done. A big believer in addressing issues at its root cause, I would advocate for creating a Task Force to gather relevant information and then share it with other districts, locally and across the nation. This is not an isolated issue unique to SDUHSD and it will take a collective group of communities, and not just our own, to truly solve this issue for our kids.

3. Do you agree with the way the San Dieguito Union High School District operates? If not, what changes do you think need to be made
San Dieguito Union is the top-ranked school district in San Diego and one of the top five in the state of California. This is due to our excellent classroom instruction, strong parent support, as well as dedicated collaboration between all district members. However, especially with families isolated at home due to COVID-19 restrictions, communication and community input are more critical than ever. With a history of clear, transparent, and consistent communication, I would like to open additional channels to make sure all members of our community have equal access to district news and updates. At the very least, I would like to see more community forums, regular surveys, and accessible links to vital resources. COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in many ways, but we, as a district, can still find ways to continue to work together for positive results, especially in the best interests of our children.


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