Politics

🗳 Election 2022: Two seats on the ballot for Cypress School Board

In Trustee Area B, current city councilman, and spouse of the current board president is running to replace her, facing a parent endorsed by the teachers' union. In Trustee Area C, an incumbent is facing a newcomer.

Map of Cypress School District Trustee Areas courtesy of Cypress School District website
Map of Cypress School District Trustee Areas courtesy of Cypress School District website

There are two seats on the November ballot for the Cypress School District Board of Trustees which governs six elementary schools in Cypress and La Palma. The district is split into five trustee areas, with candidates running to represent Trustee Area B and Trustee Area C.

In Trustee Area B, current Cypress City Councilman Jon Peat is running for the seat his wife, Bonnie, has held since 2018. She is running for Cypress City Council. Peat’s opponent, Troy Tanaka is a parent and landlord in Cypress. In Trustee Area C, incumbent Sandra Lee is running for re-election and she is facing Kyle Chang, a public health statistician.

You can visit a candidate’s campaign website by clicking on their names below. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order. Each candidate was emailed the same five questions and given a maximum of 250 words to respond to each one.

Trustee Area B

Candidates

Jon Peat, Cypress City Councilmember

Troy Tanaka, Parent/Landlord

Jon Peat

1) Why are you running for the Cypress School District Board of Trustees?

I am running for the Cypress School District Board of Trustees for a couple of reasons:

First, I believe it is everyone’s responsibility to be involved in their community to make a positive difference for others. I would like to continue serving the children and families of our community as a member of the Board of Trustees;

Second, I want to utilize my leadership experience in industry and in our community to ensure the Cypress School District remains focused on academics and student achievement. We have very good schools with excellent teachers, staff and administration. I want to continue the success of our district by investing in our teachers and staff so that they have the tools and resources needed to provide a well-rounded, high-quality education program for every student. I want to strengthen communication among all of the stakeholder groups to build the strongest team possible and I want to make sure that we are managing our resources effectively so that we remain a financially strong and healthy organization. As a parent of a special needs child, I understand the importance of individual learning plans and working with parents to ensure the success of their students. As a member of the Board of Trustees, my attention will always be on doing what is best for the students and their families.

2) If elected, what is the first thing that you would like to do?

While the role of a member of the Board of Trustees is to provide guidance and oversight for the district, I believe it is very important for the leaders of an organization to have a foundational understanding of how the organization operates, the plans for the future and the challenges that the organization faces. In order to develop that foundational knowledge, if elected, my first priority will be to meet with the different departments within the district to learn about their operations, to understand their plans going forward as well as the challenges they face in achieving their objectives. I would like to visit each of the schools to gain their perspective on what is working well and to understand the challenges that they face in providing a high-quality education program for the students. I will listen to parents to make sure I understand their priorities and concerns and I will meet with the other trustees to draw upon their wisdom, experience and understanding of how best to lead this organization. I will listen and learn so that I can be well informed on the issues we are facing and about our plans to best serve our students and families in the coming year.

3) What is the biggest challenge facing families in your district right now?

I believe the biggest challenge facing families in the Cypress School District is ensuring that the district is focused on providing a well-rounded education utilizing an academics-based curriculum. Parents that I have spoken with are concerned about the introduction of non-academic topics, such as Critical Theory, into their children’s curriculum and they want to ensure that such topics are not part of the curriculum in Cypress. Parents are also concerned about the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic is having on their education as well as their mental and emotional health. As a result of remote learning many students have fallen below grade-level learning in key subjects like math, reading and science. Other students, along with faculty and staff, are struggling with issues related to mental and emotional health. Investing in the tools, training and resources to help close this learning gap and to provide the services to address the mental and emotional health needs of students, teachers and staff, will be a priority for me, if I am elected.

4) What is something that makes you excited about public education right now?

A couple of things that I find exciting about public education right now are the excellence of the Cypress School District and the way that parents are getting more engaged in the education system. The Cypress School District has outstanding people at every level, teachers, staff, administration and Trustees. They provide an excellent, academics-based educational program for all students. The district has strong support from the community and I am excited about the opportunity to join the team and continue serving our students and families.

I am also excited to see parents and families getting more involved with their local school districts. I think it is critically important for parents to know what their children are learning and to be involved as members of the Board of Trustees, as members of PTA, as volunteers at school and by participating in school board meetings. I like the fact that we are having a competitive election this year. It will give voters a choice and allow them to select the person they believe will best represent them as a Trustee for Area B.

5) Most can’t vote, but your leadership will impact pupils in numerous ways. What do you want students to know about your candidacy?

Above all else, I want students to understand the importance of education in their lives. Whether they pursue a university degree or a career in a skilled trade, education and the desire to always be learning is key to a successful future.

My candidacy is built upon my many years of community service and experience as a manager in a major aerospace company. For the past eight years, I have served on the Cypress City Council and gained valuable experience in the successful operation of local government. As part of the Council, I have worked on committees with the Cypress School District to find solutions to some of the issues the district has faced.

As the Chairman of the Board for the Boys & Girls Club and as a Director of the Champion Baseball program, I have worked for more than 20 years to serve children and families in our community.

As a member of industry, I have gained valuable experience working with government organizations and successfully developing and managing large operating budgets.

As a candidate for the Board of Trustees, I will use all of this experience to serve the students and families of the Cypress School District. My commitment is to provide every student with a well-rounded, high-quality education that prepares them for success in their educational journey and for success in life.

Troy Tanaka

1) Why are you running for the Cypress School District Board of Trustees?

I am running as a parent with two boys attending Morris Elementary and to ensure our local School District is run for the benefit of our students, and supportive of our parents, families and teachers. If elected I would be the only board member in district B with children in the school district. As a parent, I believe we need to improve communications between the District and its parents and other stakeholders. I am also running to support our educators, and am proud to be the only candidate endorsed by our District's teachers.

2) If elected, what is the first thing that you would like to do?

We need to improve communications with parents & build stronger relationships, between teachers, families and the community. The current school board is lacking transparency and communication. I would institute regular "office hours" to communicate with parents and other stakeholders, and ensure there is a meaningful open line of communications.

3) What is the biggest challenge facing families in your school district now?

The challenges from the Covid 19 pandemic on learning and the effects on the students being behind in Math and reading are the largest current challenge. The impact from the pandemic on student learning was significant and needs to be addressed. As a parent I am glad my children are back to in person learning and the era of restrictions and mandates is a thing of the past, but we also need strong stable leadership to prepare for whatever challenges we face in the future.

4) What is something that makes you excited about public education right now?

We live in a rapidly changing world, and regardless of your dreams as a student, the pathways exist within just a short drive of Cypress. What is exciting is the opportunity to bring tools and resources never before available to students, and open them up to a near limitless range of opportunities right here in Southern California.

5) Most can’t vote, but your leadership will impact pupils in numerous ways. What do you want students to know about your candidacy?

I am an advocate of our students and running to put our students first. I will fight to create safer schools and for the resources necessary for students and faculty to have a safe and secure campus, and to be as successful as they can be in preparing for college, career and life.

Trustee Area C

Candidates

Kyle Chang, Public Health Statistician

Sandra Lee, Cypress School District Board Trustee

Kyle Chang

1) Why are you running for the Cypress School District Board of Trustees?

I’m running to provide the best education for my daughter and other children in Cypress.

2) If elected, what is the first thing that you would like to do?

The first and easiest thing I would like to improve is board communication and transparency. I’ve heard many families and parents talk about how difficult it is to talk to anyone on the board. I would like to hold regular informal meetings with teachers and families to discuss the issues that affect them. There’s also quite a bit of confusion about the finances of the school district, and I believe this can be improved with more frequent and clearer presentations on the board finances.

3) What is the biggest challenge facing families in your school district right now?

One of the biggest challenges is the disparity in education that is provided to families with resources and families without resources. I’m worried about families who are having trouble navigating the school system, or don’t know about the school and community resources that are available to them, or maybe don’t speak English as their native language, or don’t have the time or money to get all the school supplies they need.

4) What is something that makes you excited about public education right now?

I’m excited about the untapped resources that are available in the community. We have a bunch of great teachers that are excited about teaching, parents with skills and resources that they can provide to classrooms, and community organizations and groups willing to provide support to kids. I think it’s just a matter of mobilizing these resources.

5) Most can’t vote, but your leadership will impact pupils in numerous ways. What do you want students to know about your candidacy?

I would want them to know that although they might hear a bunch of bad things about politics, politics is really just a bunch of people in the community getting together to try to make life better for everyone.

Sandra Lee

Sandra Lee is running for re-election to represent Trustee Area C on the Cypress School District Board of Trustees. Courtesy photo.
Sandra Lee is running for re-election to represent Trustee Area C on the Cypress School District Board of Trustees. Courtesy photo.

1) Why are you running for re-election to the Cypress School District Board of Trustees?

I firmly believe that it is critical for students to have a strong foundation during their formative years in their educational career at the elementary school level. Furthermore, it is equally important that there is a voice on the dias who is in public education that will advocate for students’ best interest. I have nearly 20 years of experience as a teacher, an instructional coach supporting teachers, a school administrator, and a parent of a Cypress School District child which allows me to lead with various perspectives that ultimately benefit students.

2) If re-elected, what is the first thing that you would like to do?

If re-elected, I would like to explore ways to enhance channels of communication to strengthen our partnerships so that our energies are focused on our 3 district goals which are the following:

  • Student Achievement: Provide a rigorous and well-rounded educational program that effectively meets the academic, behavioral, and social-emotional needs of all students in a warm and supportive learning environment to ensure school success.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Maintain strong relationships with educational partners and provide opportunities for meaningful engagement to support the success of all students.
  • Resource Management: Maximize district resources to ensure the success of all students. Click here for 2022-23 District Goals

3) What is the biggest challenge facing families in your school district right now?

From an educator’s standpoint, coming back from post-pandemic teaching and learning, many needs are emerging such as addressing academic concerns and social and emotional needs due to the restrictions that came with social distancing. Having to cope with family or friend’s illness and/or death due to COVID-19 are real aftermaths that have made an impact on families. Students are having to relearn and practice social skills with one another while being able to regulate their own well- being. Students are resilient and it is up to us to reframe these new challenges into learning opportunities and growth.

4) What is something that makes you excited about public education right now?

Public education is rapidly changing where the focus is not so much about how much information one can memorize and consume but rather, students are charged to now think critically more than ever before about the information presented before them. This is the time to cultivate and weave into their learning experiences with opportunities of innovation, creativity, citizenship, collaboration, and problem solving skills.

5) Most can’t vote, but your leadership will impact pupils in numerous ways. What do you want students to know about your candidacy?

I would like students to know that they are our leaders of tomorrow. My candidacy is about my commitment to serving them so that they have the best educational experience in the elementary grades to be fully equipped to navigate their way successfully in middle and high school. I want students to know that all the adults that are supporting and cheerleading for them, such as myself, do what we do to advocate for their best interests because we believe that they are capable of fulfilling their dreams and unleashing their full potential.

Trustee Area D

In Trustee Area D, only the incumbent, Lydia Sondhi, turned in qualifying paperwork to run for the seat; therefore, she will not appear on the ballot and will be appointed to the seat per election law, according to the O.C. Registrar of Voters.

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