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A closer look at those running for the Delano Union High School District Board of Trustees

Student wellbeing, campus safety, and ensuring children are prepared for their futures are the top concerns of Delano parents and the DUHSD trustee candidates.
Delano (FILE)
Posted at 6:00 PM, Nov 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-01 21:18:53-04

DELANO, Calif. (KERO) — The pledge seen on the Delano Union High School District website reads “From cradle to career. The latest state test scores which came out the last week of October shows that 64 percent of Delano High School students met or exceeded the standard for English language arts, and only a quarter of the students met the standard for math.

This issue, along with student safety, preparedness for adult life, and mental wellbeing, are the main concerns for the people of Delano, and many would say school board members are supposed to reflect the values of their community.

The Delano Union High School District seres around 4,200 students and includes Cesar Chavez, Delano, Valley, and Robert F. Kennedy High Schools. The Delano UHSD Board of Trustees supports the educational programs and direction for resources across the district.

Three people currently running for trustee seats on the DUHSD board are Ann McBride, Valerie Jasso-Gorospe, and incumbent Art Armendariz.

Ann McBride is a local farmer and computer engineer. She wants better vocational programs for students and a bigger focus on technology.

“When they get out in the real world, they are going to have problems finding jobs, so let’s take these kids, let’s evaluate them when they come in as freshmen,” said McBride. “Let’s find out if they are better for vocational programs or if they are better to be on-track for college.”

McBride adds that when it comes to safety, she wants all teachers to have Narcan in response to fentanyl use in schools across the nation. She also wants to see an increase in the presence of law enforcement on campus in response to mass shootings and gang activity in Delano.

“Crazy people come on campus. We have a wall that could be easily scaled by somebody,” said McBride. “They could just get in there. If we have armed law enforcement, they could prevent these catastrophes at these schools.”

Campus safety is also a top concern for candidate Valerie Jasso-Gorospe, and not only in the sense of law enforcement presence. She would also like to create more safe spaces for all students to feel comfortable in school.

“We have a lot of students who are primary caregivers in their homes. We have a lot of students who are living with addiction in their homes. We have a lot of students whose families are still very fearful of their documentation status, whether they are in a mixed status family or not,” said Jasso-Gorospe.

Jasso-Gorospe, a community engagement director from an unincorporated area of Kern, grew up in Delano. She says it gives her a perspective into the different issues the community faces, and she wants to make sure someone on the board can identify students facing extraordinary barriers.

“School safety can mean an array of different things, with students feeling unsafe because of their gender identity, or if the student identifies as LGBTQ,” said Jasso-Gorospe. “What makes them feel safe and unsafe?”

As mother to two students in the school system, she says addressing students’ mental health challenges is more important than ever, as the nation faces a rise in drug abuse.

Art Armendariz, who has been on the Delano UHSD Board of Trustees for the last 16 years, says the board is focused on.

“Pop it in their mouth and next thing you know we have a convulsion, and like the saying goes, ‘it takes 10 minutes to take action’ and we have to do that,” said Armendariz. “We have to save our kids, and this is one way of doing it, to have our staff ready and have that Narcan ready to go.”

Armendariz says that although he doesn’t know of any overdose cases in Delano, he and the other members of the board are concerned about drug use in schools and are looking to be pro-active.

Because community members have pointed to negative interactions happening between law enforcement and students, they have concerns about putting more police officers on campus. Armendariz says law enforcement can address this concern by maintaining open communications with students, especially those who are showing signs of distress.

“We want to make sure the officer develops a dialogue with the student,” said Armendariz. “The officer is here to protect the students, basically, and they also develop a dialogue. He walks among the students to get a feel for what’s going on, and develop a relationship that also increases out in the streets.”

23ABC reached out to the two other candidates running for a trustee seat in Delano, Eloise Carillo and Lionel Reyna, but they were not available for comment.