Think About Your Vote
Welcome to our Meet the Candidates profile blog: An introduction to the leaders in our community running for school board office.
Meet Karen Loebbaka
Which Marin School Board are you running for?
KL: Kentfield School District Board of Trustees
How long have you lived in Marin County?
KL: Since 2010
How many children do you have in this school district?
KL: I have 6th grade twins, Jack & Maddie
What are the biggest challenges facing the district now and in the next 5 years?
The implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is underway. Last year, KSD introduced Math CCSS curriculum and this year will introduce CCSS in Language Arts and Science. CCSS present an amazing change and opportunity for learning, as they dive deeper into subject areas and drive collaboration, creativity and critical thinking of the students. The shift, however, presents its own challenge as students and teachers – and parents – adjust to new approaches. The curriculum is definitely more rigorous. The next five years will be critical in making the transition smooth and successful.
Secondly, we are finally feeling a bit of relief from the financial challenges of the past five years. The State passed a new budget and legislation whereby local agencies (the districts) will be given much more control in how money is spent. This is very exciting, as in the past, “categorical” funding dictated where monies be spent, whether those areas needed it or not. There will be a state requirement for much more parent/community input on the budget and reporting back.
Lastly, KSD’s student population has seen a surge in the past four years and we expect that it will continue to grow in the unforeseen future. The Board is working on securing a building on our property that is lawfully ours but is being utilized by the Marin County Office of Education for mentally disabled adult students. The building would provide an additional six classrooms, enough to accommodate an entire grade, which would immediately solve the space issue with relatively little economic impact.
What do you think are the district’s greatest strengths?
KSD is known for its high quality teachers, instruction and enrichment programs. The current Board has done an exemplary job keeping the state budget crisis of the past five years out of the classroom. We have just hired a new Superintendent that promises to be spectacular – intelligent, financially savvy, a good listener and great leader. Both our elementary and middle schools are California Distinguished Schools, not only for the high quality education that’s provided, but notably for our focus on developing children of good character and eliminating bullying in our community.
What would you say are the district’s greatest weaknesses?
Communication. I have heard it said that an empty parking lot at a school board meeting is a good thing, because it means that there are no contentious issues. But that shouldn’t be the only reason for parents in the community to attend. We need to do a better job inviting participation as well as explaining what we are doing as a Board.
Why are you running?
I believe that my experience in the PTA, Site Council and on a variety of committees including the District Strategic Planning, Finance and Be The Change Committees, provides a natural springboard to serving on the board. I am passionate around public education and making sure that all kids in our district have the best education possible. Being on the Board of Trustees, working with really smart, dedicated people, gives me a voice for direction, on behalf of our parent community.
What do you feel you would bring to the school board that makes you unique?
I pride myself on my listening and information-gathering skills, able to sift through the “noise” in order to find the important nuggets of information to best guide our decisions. I’m curious, and am interested in learning what other districts are doing that’s working well. I have built strong, collaborative relationships with key stakeholders throughout the District – parents, teachers, administration and the current Board – and have a first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of the District so that I can hit the ground running.
What would be your main goals as a trustee during your tenure on the board?
My #1 goal would be to see the roll out and implementation of the CCSS in the most effective ways possible. There are so many amazing opportunities for teaching and learning that will engage and inspire our kids in ways never before. I am particularly interested in exploring ways to enhance our use of technology to support curriculum in order to prepare our students for 21st century learning.
I want to ensure that our graduating students are motivated learners, compelling communicators and compassionate contributors.
You can read more about Karen and her campaign at her website: http://karen4kentfieldschools.com/