*Editor's Note: this is the second of three profiles on the three candidates for two seats on the Dixon Unified School District's Board of Education. The profile on incumbent . The profile on Joe DiPaola will be published in the coming days.*
As a coach for the and the Rams, Guy Garcia motivates his players to achieve greatness on the basketball court. It’s that same desire to watch his student-players excel on the court that propelled Garcia to enter the race for one of two seats on the
But a seat on the school board will come with a different set of challenges than those Garcia’s used to facing on the basketball court; they are challenges that Garcia has received a fair amount of insight on as a board member for the , Nor Cal Swim League, Sunsweet Growers Board and his current position as president of the Dixon Schools Athletic Boosters.
Aside from the academic success of Dixon’s students Garcia, 49, a father of two daughters who’s lived in Dixon for the past seven years, hopes to restore fiscal stability within the district.
As the school board race heats up each candidate – including incumbent John Gabby and local attorney Joe DiPaola – is forced to consider a financial situation in which the district is deficit spending and may have to make substantial cuts should state revenues fail to materialize.
Through the experiences on the aforementioned boards and through his career as a Dixon farmer and former process engineer systems analyst for High Tech and Fresh Express , Garcia believes he can bring an emphasis on fiscal responsibility to the table as well as a spirited presence with his passion for the students in the district.
Garcia’s goals of promoting fiscal stability and student achievement in academics, athletics, extra-curricular activities as well as trade and career building can be achieved if the schools and the board work closely together, Garcia said.
“I think that recent school boards have been very disjointed,” said Garcia. “And you have to have a collaborative approach to reach any kind of successful solution.”
Garcia believes to bring real and lasting solutions for many of the problems plaguing Dixon schools, the district needs strong grass-roots support, out-of-the-box thinkers and volunteers.
“It’s not about ‘I’ and ‘me,’ it’s about ‘us’ and ‘we,’” said Garcia. “Solutions aren’t going to come from me sitting on the district board. Solutions are going to come from the people collaborating on all of this.”
Through his experiences, Garcia says that “Every successful venture, over time, has to do with involved people.”
He believes that successful decision making needs to involve everyone – from the board, to the staff, parents and the students. Each stakeholder has a voice and should therefore factor in to the decisions made by the school board, Garcia said.
Garcia would love to see especially large support from parents.
“You have to think outside the box, even outside of your own comfort zone,” said Garcia. “And when you see active parents, you see successful kids.”
Garcia said that now – because of the dip in the economy, the lack of funding by the state, and fiscal irresponsibility in recent years – the district is now in a state of damage control.
“And now, you have to create a new model to maintain the system,” said Garcia. “A model that requires more parent involvement, and now you need to find a way to create more revenue.”
For successful and quality education, Garcia wants to focus on getting the parents, teachers and students more engaged in the schools, and one of the ways, he believes, is through more active school programs. Programs have been downsized and cut however, because of a limited budget.
“Without athletics, without band, without drama, without some of the trades, you’re going to lose population and attendance,” said Garcia.
Population and attendance is one of the major sources of funding for schools and Garcia believes that, with enough collaboration and creative problem-solving, that the district can bring some of these programs back.
“If we can do it, you’re going to have a more engaged and more interactive student body, as well as more involved parents,” said Garcia. “We have to find a way to fuel students’ passions for their careers.”
While there is a lot of focus on ways for the schools to improve their test scores, Garcia has a different approach.
“Go straight to the students, go straight to the teachers and figure out what works for them and how we can help,” said Garcia. “And from there, we can become more effectively involved, and there will be more success. Better test scores will become a byproduct of that.”
Garcia believes that if the goal of the district is to solely improve test scores, then the schools are not putting enough emphasis on the overall success of the students.
But, despite all that the district faces, Garcia says he remains optimistic about the future of the district.
“I believe that the community that we have is a very cool place to live,” said Garcia. “And the school is a very big portion of our success.”
But to protect our schools and community and to rejuvenate their success and spirit, Garcia says that the schools have to get creative, but also return to the basics.
“There is an education that is far beyond reading, writing and arithmetic, and it creates a culture on campus that is dynamic,” said Garcia. “It’s fun, it’s a destination and it’s so much more than just tests and books.”
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the name of the board that Garcia served on. He has served as a member of the Sunsweet Growers Board. Please contact the editor directly at email@example.com for any corrections.
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