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Talking Points: Riverbank Unified School District Q&A

RIVERBANK UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

Five candidates are vying for two seats in the Nov. 6 election. Steven Costalupes, Pamela P. Floyd, Kevin J. McBride-Luman and John Mitchell Jr. answered these questions from Bee staff writer Eve Hightower. Cohen Blount could not be reached for comment.

Q: What do you think are the toughest issues facing Riverbank teachers?

COSTALUPES: The hardest things for any teacher, I think, would be keeping children motivated to learn and getting the involvement of the parents in their child's education. If we allow the teachers some creativity in the way in which they teach, maybe the children would want to be more involved.

FLOYD: I'd guess student achievement and motivating students.

McBRIDE-LUMAN: To always live out the fact that teaching is a calling, not just a job. And the other really challenging thing is to be creative and remain creative, and not be weighed down by the pressure of tests and assessments.

MITCHELL: The teachers we have do an outstanding job, then the state jumps in. I think the teachers have their hands tied. They know how to work with each student. They know how their students learn. Then the state jumps in and says, "You can't teach that way."

Q: What don't students receive in Riverbank schools that they should?

COSTALUPES: I would have to say pride. Pride in their school is extremely important to children. These kids need to know that we (faculty, board members, parents) are trying to uplift this district for them and that their participation in this is imperative.

FLOYD: I think they're getting the academics they need. They have all of that. I don't know of anything they are missing.

McBRIDE-LUMAN: They should receive more arts and music and financial literacy. They get math in school, but not always math's practical application. That's part of the reason we have so many foreclosures right now is people didn't know what they were getting into.

MITCHELL: More independence from educators because we have a lot of great students and parents. Advisers sometimes push curriculum so much, it's overkill. A lot of time, students are trustworthy and deserve a little space to figure things out for themselves.

Q: Most of the money school districts receive is earmarked for certain projects and expenditures. With the limited amount of discretion board members have over money, what would you do with it?

COSTALUPES: We are a district with a large percentage of English-language learners. We need to put into place the absolute best programs possible for teaching them English as early as possible so that they are learning at the same pace as the rest of the student body.

FLOYD: Field trips are limited. That's "enrichment." So it would be nice to support that. And supplies and kids who need extra help -- perhaps tutoring.

McBRIDE-LUMAN: I think we should support more arts and music and financial literacy in school.

Also, have a method in place to let teachers run with an idea and try out something new.

MITCHELL: I'd look toward the teachers, maybe giving them higher pay.

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