Believing her “job is to go out and learn about different parts of the community so I can better inform about the decisions we make in the community,” Chandler resident, mother, and community member Patti Serrano wants to bring a district parent’s perspective to the Chandler Unified School Governing Board.
A first-generation daughter of immigrants, Ms. Serrano has extensive experience in the children’s health arena, she will, if elected, work to help improve the Chandler School district academically, fiscally, its workplace environment, and inclusivity among all stakeholders.
Ms. Serrano graciously took the time to respond to questions about her candidacy for a seat on the Chandler Unified School Board.
The questions and her responses are below.
- What are at least two reasons you would like to run for the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board?
“These past few years have been more than tough on all of us; between the handling of the pandemic and continual, growing attacks on public education from our state legislature, our public schools have been hit hard. Knowing there exist concerted efforts to dismantle Public Education that over 90% of Arizonans, like me choose, is frustrating and disappointing, but we have the tools to do all we can to protect our public schools and do better. One of those tools is electing pro-public education candidates from our local school boards to the highest office in the state. As a strong public-school advocate, I felt compelled to contribute this sort of representation to our Board.
Additionally, after years of following the Governing Board and attending meetings, realizing we did not have one Mom serving on the Board with firsthand experience and testimony to Board decisions that directly impact our families grew more and more evident, along with the degrees of separation most of the Board Members have to our contemporary times and current school experience. Then, I learned that in our District where over half of our students identify as non-White and almost 30% identify as Latin@, we have yet to have a Latin@ Board member serve our communities. With Board Member Love exiting after this term, we may have no representation from anyone who can identify with over half our student population in this way. As a first-generation daughter of immigrants, I know electing a “Serrano” to our board would mean progress and give our students and families a greater sense of inclusiveness with meaningful representation.
On top of being an embedded public-school advocate and a Mom in the District, I happen to be a product of our CUSD schools, having graduated from Hamilton High School in 2001. My family has grown proud and invested roots here between a family that has and continues to teach in District for over 24 years now, and all of our local family’s children moving through our schools from our Husky Pups program through to high school graduation, with countless extracurricular activities and contributions in between. We are Chandler Unified School District.
As a Mom, I ‘get it and am ready to bring representation to CUSD that prioritizes the best education we can offer at all of our schools; for our children, our educators, our staff, and the community at large.”
- Please tell the reader what at least two qualifications you have to serve on the school board are.
- “Serving our School Boards is very much a job in management and community representation. I come with clear project management and community advocacy receipts. I directly know what it takes to coordinate and bring stakeholders together to accomplish goals and outcomes in the best interest of a community.
As a project director and coordinator in academic research and education advancing children’s health, my professional skills and current experience directly translate to this job:
- Hiring (Superintendent) – I am directly involved in hiring processes for the grant-funded studies I work on; helping create any related assessments, interview questions, reference checks, and more.
- Developing/approving /monitoring budget – I do exactly this in relation to grant applications and the grant-funded studies I work on, in addition to completing accountability budget reports for our funders.
- Setting salaries – In relation to developing and monitoring our grant-funded study budgets, I help set pay rates and address requests for pay rate increases.
- Approving purchases – I do exactly this in relation to all grant-related purchases.
- Developing/approving policies – I develop and internally help approve study standard operating procedures and human subject study policies that often must earn IRB approval. Working in academic research, these policies must be strictly adhered to and/or improved on when necessary, in order to properly collect the data we seek. This often involves Pilot studies.
- Adopting curriculum – In helping create, assess and seek improvements on Evidence-Based Parenting Programs (EBPPs) that are based on specific curricula, I continue to build on best practice knowledge directly related to this. In addition to adopting the curriculum, I am experienced with helping adopt research measurements and skilled in building research batteries composed of different measurements to assess our programs.
- Closing & constructing schools – While I am not directly experienced with closing or constructing schools, I am experienced with closing and starting large grant-funded studies that require detailed accountability. I also happen to have other structural project management experience having personally helped oversee the renovation of residential homes.
Above all, I see this role as one of community commitment and listening. My strong ties to stakeholders and leaders will be of great benefit to serving our School Board.
- Rooted family in CUSD Community
- Bilingual, 1st Generation, daughter of immigrants who will provide direct and comfortable access to the Board from our Spanish-speaking community members.
- Listening & sound boarding – I have a track record of going to different parts of our community in order to listen and learn about different needs and experiences.
- Use of all resources against defunding of and attacks on our public schools as an elected official
- Personal ties to pro-education advocacy groups”
- If elected, what are at least two education-related issues you would champion as a member of the Chandler Unified Governing Board?
“I am invested in helping CUSD achieve and build on its current goals for the better. In order to help our students achieve full academic potential, we must recognize and respond to our children’s whole well-being that including academic, social, emotional, and/or mental health needs. I firmly believe in meeting our students where they are, acknowledging one cannot learn to the best of their ability if their basic needs are not met. This requires courage and a willingness to evolve and invest in this more holistic approach in order to produce positive outcomes in our schools, prepare tomorrow’s workforce, attract economic investment, and foster innovation.
Coming from a data collection background, I also look forward to analyzing and preparing data that can hold meaningful information and lessons to help the District improve. I intend to request and review reports beyond budgets and collaborate to prioritize working towards better together. Examples include looking at:
- CUSD sub-groups across employment
- Disciplinary action events across school sites
- Addressing learning gaps across demographics and school sites
- Teacher retention rates
- Holding accountable feedback loops on any parent, educator, and staff survey(s) that often feel like they go nowhere from the outside looking in.
- Addressing inequities across school sites as simple as access to shade.”
- Please describe your views on the legislature’s attempts to ban certain types of books, mandate a distorted version of history education, discriminate against children in the LGBTQ community, and change the funding formula for public schools.
“Along with over 80% of Americans, I do not agree with the movement seeking to ban books and an accurate account of history from our schools. I also vehemently do not agree with any attempts to discriminate against our children in any way, including their gender and/or sexual identity, and I do not agree with our underwhelming funding formula that consistently leaves Arizona at the bottom of the list for public school funding.
I have a track record of showing up in our statewide efforts to protect our public schools, our children, our families, and communities across all of these specific issues. In fact, this is one of the reasons I chose to run for this position – knowing there exist other candidates statewide pushing these dangerous actions that knowingly, negatively impact our children. Alongside our other Pro-Public Education candidates, I cannot stand by and watch, and instead chose to take this action of running for School Board feeling extremely passionate about being a representative voice for our community members that are made to be vulnerable by such nefarious policies and beliefs. In particular, bearing witness to our student youth who consistently show up to tell adults they need better support, are not safe, and presenting concrete solutions that elected officials cannot seem to come up with themselves is igniting my action.
I have submitted public comments, and emails, attended school board meetings, collected Prop 208 signatures in an attempt to raise school funding, I’ve showed up and advocated for lifting the cap on the problematic Aggregate Expenditure Limit that almost left schools unable to finish this last school year; I have organized for pro-education support and was a district social media influencer for passing our recent bond override and am always looking to listen to our school communities, showing up to support the made to be vulnerable students that include those identifying with our LGBTQ+ community. Currently, I am a Volunteer circulating petitions to gather signatures to refer HB 2853 (the recent and largest universal ESA voucher expansion for use in private schools in Arizona).”
- Is there anything not covered in the first four questions that you would like the readers to know about you and your candidacy for the Chandler Unified School Board? Please explain.
“Listening is the basis of our campaign. To learn how to best support meaningful work within our District, my campaign is founded on listening to and learning from our key stakeholders to be the best voice we can for our District while working towards goals. This starts with engaging and listening to our students who know their situation best. We are actively engaged with students, parents, and teachers with a commitment to involving and creating a safe space for the community. I am committed to supporting great schools in all of our zip codes, north, and south of the 202.”
Please click on the below social media sites to find out more about Patti Serrano and her candidacy for the Chandler Unified School District Governing Board.
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Visit our website at SerranoForChandler.com – in construction!
Reach us at: (480)331-9147