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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
School

Morongo Unified School DistrictCandidate for Member, Governing Board, Area 5

Photo of Jennifer Decker

Jennifer Decker

Retired
1,505 votes (47.16%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Improve communication, both between the school district and the community, and within the school district's operations.
  • Work with a team to examine the budget and competing priorities to develop possible resolution for some of the current issues.
  • Initiate a job satisfaction survey throughout complex district operations, and effect appropriate changes to maintain high morale.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Retired administrator of human service agencies
Deputy Director, San Bernardino County Aging and Adult Services Department (2001–2003)
Member, San Bernardino County Transportation Advisory Committee — Appointed position (1999–2001)
Executive Director, Seniors Council of Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties, Inc. (1982–1998)
Member, San Benito County Long Term Care Committee — Appointed position (1993–1998)
Member, Santa Cruz County Transportation Advisory Board — Appointed position (1990–1997)
Senior Analyst, County of Santa Cruz Social Services Department (1981–1982)
Administrator, La Posada Senior and Disabled Congregate Living (1979–1980)
Executive Director, Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County (1975–1978)
Member, Santa Cruz County Employment and Training Commission — Appointed position (1975–1978)

Education

Stephens College, UC Santa Cruz (current)
Stephens College, UC Davis, San Diego State, Universidad de Guadalajara, UC Santa Cruz, San Jose State AA Highest Honors, BA, Psychology, anthropology, art, social services administration (1985)

Community Activities

Board member, Senior and Disabled Fund of San Bernardino County (2010–2015)
Board member, Red Cross of Santa Cruz County (1990–1996)
Chair of Supervisory Committee, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union (1991–1994)
Board member, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union (1988–1991)
Board members, Santa Cruz Community Legal Clinic (1982–1985)

Biography

I grew up in an agricultural community with a rich blend of cultures. I was fortunate to travel extensively in my youth. I have attended 8 colleges and universities in different places, including the Universidad de Guadalajara in Mexico. I did Master's work in Social Service Administration. On my way to several professional positions of authority, I worked at several menial agriculture-related jobs, and in my first human services employment, worked my way from secretary to administrative assistant to deputy director and ultimately executive director. After that, my positions were executive, but I never forgot my roots, and have always preferred a "flattened" hierarchy in which all staffers are considered to have equal importance, just different job titles.

Who supports this candidate?

Organizations (3)

  • Democrats of the Morongo Basin
  • San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee
  • Community Action Fund of Planned Parenthood

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

I was recruited as a teenager to perform neighborhood canvassing for John Kennedy's campaign, and at 21, registered as a Democrat. However, I am quick to state that over the years I have several times voted for, and even campaigned actively for Republican candidates when I considered them to be the best candidate. I consider myself a liberal, by which I mean open-minded. I also consider myself a conservative, by which I mean thoughtful, careful, wanting information from all sides before making a significant decision. That said, I will admit to participating in a few actions over the years which might have been considered a bit radical; that was when I felt very strongly about something, usually something I considered unjust. I have been told that I demonstrate the courage of my convictions, a description I feel good about.

Position Papers

Current issues facing the MUSD Board

Summary

Communication and public relations

I have observed several recent situations in which members of the public seem to have misunderstood board actions, others in which the Board has not made public the fact that they are already working on a troublesome issue, which has led to public demonstrations of distrust. I have heard employee comments that board members appear aloof and uninvolved in--therefore, uninformed about--day-to-day school district operations. I hope to employ my history of facilitating effective liaison, cooperation, and collaboration to help improve the community's image of the MUSD Board as well as opening more clear communication within school district operations.

Budget and financial decisions

Summary

The complexity of facing competing priorities and allocating funds appropriately and fairly

The Morongo Unified School District is second only to the U.S. Marine base in the number of people employed. More than 400 of these employees are "certificated personnel,"  state-certified teaching professionals. It is acknowledged that the quality of the classroom teachers dictates the ability of the schools to educate our children. Developing and maintaining a high-quality classroom workforce is a challenge. Keeping qualified, productive and effective educators requires satisfactory salaries, benefits, and working conditions. However, these employees are supported by nearly 800 "classified" employees, without whom the schools could not exist. These are people who help in the classrooms; who operate the massive nutrition program serving two meals each school day at all sites; who are constantly repairing, servicing, replacing, constructing and maintaining the many buildings and all property owned by the district; who run the many offices and keep up with an enormous amount of paperwork; who handle the extremely complex accounting, bookkeeping, and clerical work; as well as supervisors and administrators. All of this must operate as efficiently and effectively as possible, paid for by government funding, much of which is specifically allocated to certain functions. Living within a budget is a challenge at any amount of money, but with a budget the size of the school distict's, taxpayers can easily become suspicious and disgruntled. I believe that more transparency is required in this system, in order to avoid resentment and anger among employees, parents, and members of the community at large. I would like to work with the Board and with district officials to examine ways of making more clear the very difficult allocation of limited funds.

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