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New EUSD trustee passionate about aiding underprivileged

Patricia Sinay, who’s passionate about closing the educational achievement gap among groups that have fallen behind, recently joined the Encinitas Union School District board.

On Jan. 13, the EUSD board interviewed 11 candidates and appointed Sinay, an Encinitas resident.

“We have a great district,” Sinay told the Encinitas Advocate after the agenda item concluded. “We have a diverse community, and we want to make sure we set policies that help everyone.”

Sinay founded and oversees Community Investment Strategies, a firm that designs and implements programs for educational and philanthropic organizations. Her resume also includes teaching a public service course at UC San Diego.

Trustee Carol Skiljan said Sinay’s “breadth of experience” impressed her. Skiljan added she liked that Sinay emphasized helping students with lower socio-economic backgrounds during the interview with the board.

“We’re all in the same boat, and we need to help everybody rise,” Skiljan said.

During her interview, which was held in open session, Sinay said her highest priority as a board member will be closing the achievement gap.

This refers to the academic performance disparity that often plays out among economic and racial lines.

To bridge the gap, Sinay said EUSD should look to success stories inside and outside the district for examples worth modeling.

Trustee Emily Andrade said Sinay has “a wealth of experience” rallying different community organizations together to aid the underprivileged.

Along similar lines, Sinay said the district should look to partner with nonprofits when appropriate. In Poway, for instance, she connected affordable housing groups with the school district to make a difference.

“There’s a lot of resources that aren’t connected with the schools,” she said.

Born in Mexico to a Peruvian mother and Argentine father, Sinay immigrated to the United States when she was 4 years old.

Sinay has two children who attend Paul Ecke Elementary, an EUSD school. As her resume notes, her family chose to settle in Encinitas because of the district’s dual-language immersion program and the community’s diversity.

“For these reasons, my role — as a Latina, bilingual parent at Paul Ecke and my contribution to my children’s classes, the school and the district — has been to act as a bridge-builder among the parents of different socio-economic and/or cultural backgrounds,” her resume states.

Each candidate was given 10 minutes to answer four questions, including: “What are some major accomplishments of the district in the past few years and what, if any, areas for improvement should the board address?”

Candidates were judged on their understanding of the new Common Core standards, their ability to withhold making a decision until the facts are presented, their willingness to commit time to the board and other criteria.

After the interviews, board members submitted secret ballots with their top two choices for the position.

Sinay is replacing Maureen Muir, who left the EUSD board last November after being elected to the San Dieguito Union High School District board. Muir’s EUSD seat expires in 2016, prompting the search for a candidate to fill the rest of her term.

Sinay said she’s open to running for the EUSD board in 2016.

“If the community supports the work that’s being done, then I should keep moving forward,” she said.

To save money, the EUSD board last November opted for an appointment process rather than calling a special election.

Two residents addressed the agenda item. They both urged the board to appoint Jennifer Hamler, the sole challenger who faced three EUSD trustee incumbents in November’s election.

Echoing the other trustees, Gregg Sonken called the crop of candidates stellar.

“We have a tough decision,” he said before the vote. “You’re all qualified.”


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