CUSD candidates debate over district issues

CUSD candidates debate over district issues
Current CUSD member Ann Tanner, left, and challenger Sage Naumann listen to questions from members of the Carlsbad Republican Women's Federated on April 22. Photo by Rachel Stine

CARLSBAD — Voicing competing views about Sage Creek High School and an agreement with MiraCosta College, two Carlsbad Unified School District Board of Trustees candidates campaigned before the Carlsbad Republican Women Federated on Tuesday.

Republicans Ann Tanner, a psychotherapist who is finishing her first term on the CUSD Board, and Sage Naumann, a 19-year-old owner of a web consulting company, are running for two of the four seats up for election this November.

Tanner, who is currently serving as the board president, emphasized her dedication to preparing Carlsbad students for college and career to compete with students around the world.

She explained that high school students around the world, particularly in China, are passing the U.S.’s Advanced Placement exams.

“(CUSD students) are going to be competing in a global environment,” she said. “Those kids who are studying their brains out in China, that’s who we need to compete with,” she said.

Naumann urged meeting attendees to look past his age and consider his focus on fiscal responsibility for the district.

He said the school board needs to consider alternative revenue streams that do not rely on taxes. He proposed that the Board cut costs by working with the city to share maintenance trucks.

“We have to take responsibility about our own budget,” he said.

Questions from the audience led to a disagreement between the candidates about recent school board decisions, notably the opening of Sage Creek and the leasing of classrooms to MiraCosta.

CUSD’s second high school, Sage Creek High School, was built with funds from Prop P, a $198 million general obligation bond passed by residents in 2006.

The school opened in fall 2013 with only a freshman class, despite some opposition from the teachers’ union and parents.

Naumann argued that because so few students enrolled to attend the new school, the district should have delayed the opening of the high school and rented its facilities out to a charter school instead.

He said the school district could have earned revenue by renting the facility, rather than spend money operating the new school for only about 300 students.

Tanner maintained that the district had an obligation to open the school as soon as possible because of voters’ approval of Prop P. She said that the school’s enrollment would build gradually over the next three years.

Sage Creek will have more than 600 students in sophomore and freshman classes for the upcoming 2014-15 school year.

Tanner added that Canyon Crest Academy, in the neighboring San Dieguito Union High School District, also opened with a small freshman class several years ago and now accepts students by lottery because more students want to attend the public school than it is able to enroll.

In response to questions, Tanner also highlighted CUSD’s agreement to share classrooms at Sage Creek High School with MiraCosta. Under the agreement, CUSD students will be able take any of the college’s classes for free.

The agreement will allow easier access to college classes and enhance college readiness for high school students, Tanner said.

Naumann pointed out that MiraCosta College now allows all high school students in San Diego County to take classes for free. He said that the Board should have charged MiraCosta for use of its classrooms.

“I personally think that the MiraCosta agreement was one of the most embarrassing agreements we’ve ever done,” Naumann said.

Most of the CRWF members said that rather than choosing sides between candidates, they planned on supporting both to ensure that more Republicans sit on the board.

In addition to Tanner’s term, the terms of Veronica Williams, Lisa Rodman, and Claudine Jones on the district’s Board of Trustees also conclude at the end of this year.

There are four available seats on the Board this election rather than three because Jones was appointed to the board in September 2013 to take the place of Kelli Moors, who resigned.

Jones’ term is set to conclude this year so the public can vote for someone to serve the remaining two years of Moors’ original four-year term, set to end in 2016.

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