Gary Lym, Board of Education
Gary Lym, Board of Education
Do you support passage of Measure I? Why or why not?
As a long term Alamedan, someone that attended our schools as a student and now has a son attending our schools, and serves as a parent volunteer in our schools, I support maintenance of all our facilities. However, parents and community members have demanded to know why there is no specific allocation to individual schools in the bond measure. The community has expressed apprehension to the language that these decisions will be made after passage. Our community deserves to know the specifics prior to voting for the measure as opposed to hoping for an equitable allocation after passage.
If voters approve Measure I, how would you prioritize the projects it would fund?
Projects should be approved based on safety issues and concerns to our schools.
If voters reject Measure I, what if any facilities projects would you continue to seek to implement, and where would the money to pay for them come from?
I will continue to prioritize projects based on safety issues. The district currently has a budget for deferred maintenance and capital facilities that should be examined to see what projects are scheduled. In addition, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) has given districts flexibility to address facility needs or goals provided they are part of the accountability plan.
If elected, you will be charged with hiring a new superintendent for Alameda Unified. What characteristics and experience do you think the ideal candidate should have?
The superintendent serves as a role model to his/her administrator who is responsible for implementing the board’s directive at their site locations (i.e., schools). The superintendent should provide guidance to achieve this objective. This individual should be a demonstrated instruction leader, effective communicator, good listener, understands budgets and a good manager.
The district’s recent demographic study found that Alameda Unified’s student population will grow by 1,000 students over the next decade. How do you think the district should accommodate these new pupils, and where will the money to pay for and new schools and/or services needed come from?
As a board member of the Community of Harbor Bay Isle, I represent Village 5, which is made up of the five associations that pay the Mello-Roos bond that was responsible for establishing Bay Farm School, the fire station and surrounding infrastructure. With the future development of new homes, we must pass this cost onto the developer to provide the necessary infrastructure that will be needed to support the additional student population.
How do you think the district should address parents’ desires for different types of learning environments?
If feasible, both logistically and financially, I support the opportunity to provide different types of learning environments for our students within our existing structure. A parent decides what academic environment is best suitable for their child’s success.
Community members have expressed distrust in the school district. How will you help the district regain their trust?
If elected, I would work with my fellow board members in providing a clear directive for our superintendent to build a collaborative partnership of trust with parents, teachers, staff, and the community on how we focus on student achievement. My accounting background provides me with a comprehensive understanding of budgets and how to manage them in a fiscally responsible manner. That includes understanding the justification of the expenditures and their relevance to meeting the needs of our students. My experience as a professor permits me to establish good rapport with the community. I would like to meet regularly with members of our community to listen and understand their expectations of our school district. Transparency with accountability is essential to regaining the trust with the community.
What strategies would you use as a board member to rebuild the relationship with Alameda’s teachers given the animosity between the teachers union and district leadership in recent years?
I think school board members should be accessible to all stakeholders, especially our teachers and their representatives. During my tenure on School Site Council, I made a point to meet with teachers to discuss their views on budgetary items that affected their curriculum. Through such meetings, we were able to fund their requests while securing additional savings. In addition, these meetings were insightful as we discovered many of our teachers were in need of essential materials. Only by having regular meetings will I be able to understand our teachers’ concerns. I plan to regularly visit all our school sites to have these productive discussions with our teachers.
As a board member, what would you do to address the discord that has existed between school board members and to help the board run more effectively? What experience do you have that would aid those efforts?
Each member of the school board is passionate about their views on what is best for the school district and our students. I believe it is important to respect disagreements and be mindful that we serve at the pleasure of the electorate. I am managing director of the Alameda Vipers Basketball Club that provides a year round competitive basketball program to our local youths. In this organization, I must listen to a variety of stakeholders such as parents, coaches, players, and other club directors. We have grown to 17 teams and what makes that possible is being a good listener of what people are asking. In addition, I have served on my homeowner’s board and been president for the past 13 years. Having served on many boards, the one common factor that promotes success is being a good listener and having the willingness to be flexible to other ideas.
How would you collaborate with the city, and on what issues and/or projects?
I would collaborate with the city when there are joint use properties that benefit the community and school district. For example, the district has a joint use agreement for use of our swimming pools at both high schools with the Alameda Recreation and Park Department. Also, we have shared use of our parks that are adjacent to school sites.
The district has seen high turnover of principals at schools. How would you support leadership development and staff retention?
I have served on the principal selection committee for both Bay Farm and Lincoln Middle School. In both committees, the panel was looking for an individual that: takes responsibility for student success; understands the importance of hiring, developing, and retaining excellent teachers; and someone that can build a strong school community through effective communication, outreach, and visibility. We must ensure the superintendent provides the guidance and leadership to their administrators on being a successful principal at their site. One of my goals is to be visible and accessible throughout my entire term by regularly visiting all schools to listen to teachers, staff, administrators and parents.
What is your understanding of Common Core, and do you think it’s a positive step for education? Explain your answer.
Common Core is a set of standards that are internationally benchmarked and has been adopted by California. Therefore, the district must work collaboratively with the teachers, parents, administrators and students for successful implementation. The district must provide sufficient collaboration time and materials to ensure that teachers can effectively implement Common Core standards.